— AFRICA —CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: Feneco/UNTC started on February 25, in Gombe, a workshop on the drafting of a trade union guide for teachers in the DRC. This workshop, which is organized in partnership with the National Union of Secondary Schools Teachers from France (SNES/FSU), has brought together about twenty trade unionists as well as members of the national secretariats of Feneco/UNTC and delegates from several regions. - NIGER : Negotiations are going on between Areva and the Government concerning a new 10-year agreement for the mining of uranium. - SENEGAL : The association of the former employees of the National Fund for the Promotion of the Youth (Fnpj), the National Agency for Youth Employment (Anej), the Agency for the Employment of the Youth in the Suburbs (Ajeb) and the National Agency for street vendors (Anama) denounced at a meeting held on February 25 the poor handling of their records and demanded that the government should start negotiating with them in order to reinstate them. -TUNISIA: The administrative staff of the Ministry of Health organised a sit-in on February 24 outside the Ministry protesting against their "exclusion" from a proposed Article (Article 2) of the public service General Framework Agreement and the non-implementation of some agreements reached between the unions and the Government. — WORLD NEWS — - CANADA : FTQ (Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec) welcomes an initiative of the Minister of International Relations who is also in charge of Francophonie and international trade (MRIFCE), Jean-François Lisée, who announced that a plan of action would be adopted for the establishment of the Agency for International Solidarity of Quebec (AQSI). This announcement follows the report of a committee comprising MRIFCE and the Association for international cooperation of Quebec (AQOCI).-->
The report, due to be delivered to the World Trade Organisation's (WTO) review of the Emirates trade policies on 27th March, found that UAE is in violation of all core labour standards.
Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, said no trade unions are able to operate freely and fairly in the Emirates.
“As well as denying workers their rights, the government has used its power to restrict any unwanted actions taken by professional associations, which have sprung up in an attempt to circumvent the restrictive labour laws,” said Sharan Burrow.
“Six months ago, the Jurists Association and Teachers Association Boards were dismissed by the Labour Minister and replaced with state appointees,” said Sharan Burrow.
In the Emirates million dollar Export Processing Zones all types of worker organisations are prohibited and collective bargaining never takes place.
“Foreign workers, who make up 70% of the population, take the brunt of abuses of trade union rights, with workers discriminated against by local labour laws while working under a visa sponsorship system that makes them vulnerable to forced labour and exploitation,” said Sharan Burrow.
Domestic and construction workers come from South Asian countries including Nepal, India and Bangladesh. They work long hours under harsh conditions often suffering physical, psychological and sexual abuses.
In January 2011, 70 Bangladeshi construction workers were arrested and deported accused of instigating a strike of 3000 workers at the Arabtec construction company. Domestic services are outside the law, and any benefits for workers depend on the good will of employers.
“The UAE is trying to re-create itself and Dubai as the cultural centre of the Gulf with an Opera House and a Modern Art museum, all built on the back of forced labour and exploited workers. The abuses of workers' rights will cast a long shadow over the future development of this Gulf State unless the authorities give people the freedoms they are entitled to under international law,” said Sharan Burrow.
The WTO General Council Review of Trade Policies in UAE will take place in Geneva 27 and 29 March. The WTO has made commitments to observe internationally core labour standards.
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