Farmer Jack stores honor Mt. Olive boycott
On Dec. 10 Maria Ward, spokesperson for Farmer Jack Supermarkets in Michigan,
said the chain will no longer buy Mt. Olive products from its distributor.
This will affect over 100 of their stores in Ohio and Michigan.
The Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) notified the company the previous
week of the boycott against Mt. Olive for unfair labor practices and its
intention to picket and leaflet stores unless the pickles were removed
by Wednesday, Dec. 10. Local 911 of the UFCW which represents Farmer Jack
workers in the Toledo area supported the FLOC action.
FLOC is organizing the migrant farmworkers in North Carolina who pick
for the Mt. Olive Pickle Co. (FLOC)
Zimbabwe workers seize haulage trucks
Striking Dunstan Transport workers on Dec. 10 confiscated the companys
twelve haulage trucks and parked them at the Zanu-PF Headquarters in Harare,
Zimbabwe, after failing to reach an amicable solution with their employer
over salaries and wages.
The employees downed tools early last month demanding better wages and
Some workers said they should be given a chance to run the company, alleging
that the owner, William Rodney Dunstan, had failed.
On Dec. 9, at least 310 Dunstan Transport employees were suspended indefinitely
after they had gone on a two-week strike.
A disposal order that was granted by the Labor Court on Dec. 4 declared
that the employees actions were illegal and ordered them to return
The company was therefore authorized to deduct 14 days of the unlawful
collective job action from the respective employees leave days.
(The Herald (Harare))
Chilean miners block roadway to Andina Mine, extend
Codelco, the worlds biggest copper producer, said striking miners
blocked a roadway to its Andina mine in Chile on Dec. 13 after rejecting
an improved wage offer, extending a 10-day strike that has pushed copper
prices to a six-year high.
The smaller of Andinas two unions had agreed to end their strike
while the larger union rejected the offer.
Access to the mine is cut off, said Antonio Varas, a
The protest underscores Codelcos difficulty in resolving a strike,
its longest in seven years, that has crimped supplies of the metal as
demand increases from China, the worlds biggest consumer of copper.
The Andina mine, which accounts for 1.8 percent of global output, is now
producing at half of its capacity, said Varas.
Hector Zelaya, director of the larger union, said the striking miners
wont remove their cars that are blocking the roadway to Andina until
Codelco resolves the wage dispute.
Zelayas union, which rejected Codelcos offer, wants a 3 percent
wage increase. Codelco had offered a 2.57 percent increase, improving
its wage offer for the second time in two days. (Bloomberg)
Quebec union workers take to the streets
Province-wide union protests against Premier Jean Charests social
and economic policies slowed commuters, shut daycare centers and canceled
hospital appointments in Quebec on Dec. 11.
Union members from both the private and public sectors joined together
for a national day of disruption, hoping to draw as many as a million
workers to the streets in mass demonstrations against what they see as
a government with an anti-labor political agenda.
Some Montreal Transit Commission garages remained closed, forcing many
people to walk to the closest subway system or find other means of transport.
More than one-half of public day-care centers in the province closed and
the Centre Hospitalier de lUniversité de Montréal
canceled 3,000 appointments, including many surgeries.
In other regions of Quebec, picketers stopped traffic at ports in Quebec
City and Trois-Rivieres and blocked two highways. Near Saguenay, tons
of sand were dumped in the middle of the main road into the city.
The workers anger is directed at government amendments to the Labor
Code that will make it easier for companies and public entities to subcontract
parts of their operations. Labor leaders say the legislation jeopardizes
workers protection under current collective agreements.
Other controversial legislation includes eliminating the right to organize
by employees working in home-daycare centers, the merging of collective
bargaining units in hospitals and increases in daycare costs. (Globe
Civil servants in Northern Ireland walkout
In a one day industrial action, thousands of civil servants across Northern
Ireland went on strike on Dec. 11 in a dispute over pay.
The union NIPSA said about 20,000 of its members were on strike, while
the government said about half of civil servants were taking action -
Road tax offices closed in Armagh, Ballymena, Enniskillen and Londonderry
and other government services were greatly reduced.
Ian Pearson, the Minister for Finance and Personnel, earlier had said
the government considered the increase of 3.6 percent as fair and
Now he says his message to those taking strike action was that there was
no more money in the pot.
However, NIPSA argues that senior civil servants in the province - at
the top end of the pay scale - have been given pay increases of between
4 percent and 9 percent.
NIPSA general secretary John Corey said staff were facing no increases
in their rates of pay this year.
Speaking from a picket line in Stormont, he said, That is a position
that no staff should be expected to accept. (BBC)
US directors called dictators
The whistleblower who first raised concerns about accounting irregularities
at Enron said on Dec. 9 that vast boardroom salaries were distorting directors
Sherron Watkins, a former vice-president of the energy company said matters
had not improved in the time since the Enron scandal erupted, with some
directors behaving like dictators of African countries.
Corporate bad behavior has really not got that much better. The
imperial chief executive is not dead in America, she said.
She added that some chief executives were like dictators of resource-rich
African countries, treating their company assets as their own.
Watkins said the problems were caused by a widening gulf between directors
and workers salaries.
She said that, in 1970, directors of US companies were paid about 26 times
what an average worker received. This increased to 42 times in 1980, 85
times in 1990 and 531 times by 2000. It was no wonder that directors had
lost touch with reality, she said.
She said, Once you start getting it, you just want more and more.
When CEOs are making that much, they lose their moral compass.
She called for some pay restraint in the boardroom and said it was bogus
to suggest that chief executives should be paid like Hollywood stars.
Watkins was speaking after the first conference held by the Association
of Certified Fraud Examiners, a US-body with 300 members in Britain.
Watkins worked for Enron between 1993 and 2002. She was a member of its
mergers and acquisitions team when she first raised her concerns about
irregularities. She resigned from Enron in November 2002. (Daily
Transport strikes in Italy
A record number of calls for sick leave was witnessed among bus and tram
drivers in Italy on Dec. 15, a day that was declared a national local
transport strike day. Based on trade union figures 60 percent of workers
called in sick in Turin, Naples, Genoa, Brescia, Cosenza, Catanzaro and
Unions defined such forms of protest as just and fully legitimate
and that the strike was called as a strong response to dissatisfaction
concerning current [contract] negotiations.
Ecuador Teachers Clash With Police
In Quito, Ecuadoran teachers striking for raises and parents demanding
better schools clashed with police in the capitals downtown on Dec.
The protest erupted in violence when police fired tear gas at marchers
advancing on the Presidential Palace.
About 5,000 teachers and supporters set fires, hurled rocks and used clubs
to fight police in riot gear.
Four police were wounded when a group of students attacked a station and
set it on fire, television news reported.
Meanwhile, armed soldiers formed a ring around the Presidential Palace
to keep protesters at bay.
Ecuadors 120,000 public school teachers went on strike on Nov. 11,
demanding that President Lucio Gutierrezs government deliver on
promises, which he made to end a monthlong strike in July, to raise teachers
monthly salaries by $10 and invest $11.7 million to build new schools
and refurbish old ones.
Teachers at public schools in Ecuador earn between $160 and $350 a month.
Australian mother wins workplace discrimination suit
A Sydney woman whose promotion at work turned into an acting
position within days of announcing she was pregnant has won a damages
payout from her former employer.
Federal magistrate Kenneth Raphael ruled on Dec. 15 that TPG Internet
discriminated against Rebecca Kelly, 28, by making her promotion an acting
rather than permanent posting, when she revealed during salary negotiations
that she was pregnant. She was awarded $7,500 damages.
However, the companys refusal to give her a part-time position with
the same status and rate of pay when she finished her maternity leave
was not discriminatory, Raphael said. The company did not have anyone
working part-time at a managerial level.
Kelly may consider an appeal and the decision showed that laws needed
to be changed, said her lawyer, Patricia Lowson. It demonstrates
the need for legislative change to protect the rights of women to return
to work on a part-time basis even if only for a limited period after returning
from maternity leave, Lowson said. (Sydney