Friday, June 29, 2012


A new house for KRIFA

Some trade unions do it better than other trade unions like for example the Danish Christian Trade Union Confederation KRIFA affiliated to WOW. They grew out of their headquarters in Randers, Denmark and decided therefore to build a new headquarters  in the city of Aarhus, not far from Randers. The new KRIFA house is build on the concept of the four elements earth,  water, fire and air. The short YouTube film gives you an artists impression of the new building.

The wind as shown in a ballet based on the four elements during the opening of the new KRIFA house. 

It was of course no wonder that at the official opening of the building on thursday 21 of June these four elements played a very important role in the opening show. All those who were involved in the construction of the new building, all people working at KRIFA and international guests were invited tobe present at the ceremony of the official opening.

Singers, together with the orchestra made from the opening a joyful happening

During the official opening the guests were invited to take a look at the offices and to see by themselves how the KRIFA staff is working and at the same time enjoying the new building. It needs no explination that the building has been designed according the latest ideas on working conditions like open offices with open spaces to meet together. There is even a special space for creative sessions. 

During the dinner, staff members took a break outside in the evening sun.

After the formal opening all staff members from KRIFA were invited for a dinner that ended with a demonstration of tango dancing which also could be practised by those who liked dancing. 

Saturday, June 16, 2012


Guy Rider sitting on the left side of Luc Cortebeeck during an ILO meeting.

The election of the Director General of the ILO is like in all other UN institutions a complex matter involving many national and international interests. Because of its tripartite character, elections in the ILO are even more complex. Not only governments are involved but also workers’ and employers’ groups. Therefore it is very interesting to read some background information written by a high level official from the workers’ group who was involved in the election of Guy Ryder as ILO Director General on May 28.

I am referring to the blog of Luc Cortebeeck ('How the impossible became possible'), former President of the Belgian Christian Trade Union Confederation ACV/CSC and still President of the ILO Workers’ Group and Vice President of the ILO.  It is no secret that the candidacy of Guy Ryder was launched from within the ITUC, the international Trade Union Confederation founded by Guy Ryder himself as ICFTU leader and Luc Cortebeeck as the president of the Belgian ACV/CSC, the most powerful member organisation of the WCL (World Confederation of Labor), the former merger partner of the ICFTU. Cortebeeck refers to this period of time when he writes that he “learned to know him especially during the merger and the founding of the ITUC.”

Therefore it is no surprise that Luc Cortebeeck himself together with President Michael Sommer of the powerful German Trade Union Confederation DGB presented the candidacy of Ryder to the ILO Governing Body. It is also not surprising that “his campaign, which consisted of visits to voters all over the world, was supported financially by several organizations, including ACV/CSC.”

The move to present Ryder as a strongly identified candidate with the ITUC was not without risks. Never before an International Trade Union had presented a candidate for the election of Director General of the ILO. Candidates always had been presented by Governments or were coming from inside the ILO. The latter is to a certain extent also the case with Ryder. In 2010 he returned to the ILO as an executive director, the second in command of the International Labour Organisation. Of course his candidacy took this position in jeopardy, but surely the ITUC leadership calculated this as a risk worth to be taken.

Cortebeeck refers to Ryder’s election as an exiting knock-out race between nine candidates (see ‘9 candidates for the ILO post of Director General'). First the Africans voted for Africans but divided because there were 3 African candidates. The same happened with Europe that was represented by 4 candidates, including the British Guy Ryder. The Latin Americans voted for the Colombian Vice President Garzon. At the end it was a race between the French employers’ candidate Gilles de Robain and Guy Rider. The latter won the elections because he got more votes of governments.

Cortebeeck reports that “Garzon gave his vote and support to Guy Ryder, as also did some Africans. Guy Ryder was elected in the sixth round with 30 votes. He was supported by the USA, China, Japan and probably Russia. In the final rounds developing countries and emerging economies like Brazil played a strong role together with the Colombian vice-president Garzon. Europe stayed behind, alone and divided ...

Although Guy Ryder has been nominated and promoted by Europeans (Belgium, Germany and Great Britain) Cortebeeck emphasizes that to become Director General of the ILO Guy Ryder has been supported by what he calls the South (a political correct term for developing countries) and that Ryder himself is ‘not typical British’ but a man who is also interested in the people of the South. “I see that the people from the south feel respected by him and they like to see him. That empathy is not only appreciated by trade unionists, but also by many leaders from governments and employers, you feel it also in the corridors of the ILO and the UN”, he writes in his blog.

Cortebeeck concludes at the end of his blog that “What was considered by many as too big a risk and as impossible, became possible because the focus of the world moves to the South. Never before there were so many candidates, never before a workers’ representative was elected. He is a white man, but a man who more than others has proven to understand and to feel the South. I have a very special feeling, I nominated him, he is a friend and a companion on the road. I can work with him as President of the workers' group and Vice-President of the ILO. In these difficult times the mission is immense. But only when we can coordinate governments, employers and workers we shall succeed.”

Friday, June 8, 2012


Part of the WOW delegation at the ILO Conference in Geneva. EO/WOW President Guenther Trausnitz, board member Wolfgang Pischinger, board member Mara Erdelj,  WOW World President Roel Rotshuizen, WOW treasurer Rolf Weber and WOW coordinator for the ILO Conference Koffi Chrysanthe Zounnadjala.

Social dialogue is like peace, everybody wants it but how do you get it? For global peace the global community disposes of the United Nations. For the Social Dialogue it is the ILO, the oldest and only tripartite UN organisation,  with its annual peak of the International Labour Conference, held in Geneva. There Workers’, Employers’ and Government representatives discuss rules that should govern labour relation worldwide.

Besides the yearly special topics, like this year for example youth employment and social security, there is the regular Committee on the Application of Standards, shortly called the ‘Norms Committee’. Every year complaints of labour right violations in different countries, mostly presented by Workers’ Organisations, are debated in this Committee.  The facts are presented in the Report of the Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations

Because it is not possible to debate all cases presented the Committee starts with debates on the list of countries that should be treated during the sessions.  For the first time in ILO history employer’s representatives refused to come to an agreement on this list of the 25 ILO member countries where labour rights were violated. This refusal touches the heart of the ILO since without checking their compliance the ILO conventions and recommendations are meaningless. If these violations cannot be discussed anymore the future of the ILO will be in danger.

During its meeting the EO/WOW board members were informed on ILO activities and the Conference by ILO staffmember of the Workers' Department Amrita Sietaram. Present were also boardmembers Reinhardt Schiller and WOW executive secretary Bjorn van Heusden.
There have been always tensions between Workers’ and Employers’ representatives regarding the Global Social Dialogue, especially on global rules regarding the right to strike. While employers prefer national laws and rules above an international Convention, workers’ organisations are promoting international law on the right to strike.

But today there are other motives why employers refuse to agree. According to observers the Norms Committee is used to send the message to the recently elected ILO Director General Guy Rider, a former trade union leader,  that the ILO is not only a workers’ organisation. They even expressed doubts whether ILO experts and staff are objective in compiling the annual report on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations. Some press releases speak of blackmailing the ILO using those who suffer most of the violation of labour rights like for example in Guatemala, where recently a trade unionist has been shot to death. 

Friday, June 1, 2012


Results social election on national level of Belgium.

Recently there have been social elections in the EU country Belgium and the West African country Togo. Belgium trade unions have already a long experience with social elections while in Togo it was for the first time social elections were held. Both countries have a pluralistic trade union landscape. In Belgium the competing trade union confederations are the socialist oriented ABVV/FGTB, the Christian ACV/CSC and the liberal oriented ACLVB. In Togo there are six competing trade union confederations in alphabetical order: CGCT, CNTT, CSTT, GSA, UGSL and UNSIT.

ACV once again succeeded to maintain its position as the biggest trade union confederation in Belgium with 55,8% of the elected delegates of the Workers’ Council and 58,46% of the delegates at the Commitees for Prevention and Protection on the Work Place. Regarding women 40,34% of the elected ACV delegates (40,34%) are women (ABVV 33,86% and ACLVB 34,82%). ACV comments that there is still work to do because the share of women working on national level is higher.

Elections for the Commitees for Prevention and Protection were held in 6.809 enterprises. Workers’ Council delegates were elected in 3.595 enterprises. An average of a little bit more than 70% of all workers participated in the elections,  that shows a high degree of involvement of workers in the social elections. Last but not least, what is to be noted is the balanced distribution of ACV candidates on age categories: between 15-24 years 193, between 25- 34 years 10.491, between 35 – 44 years 17.625, between 45 – 54 years 23.177 and between 55 – 64 years 7.242 candidates.

One of the federations of the Togoles trade union confederation CSTT has a special cooperative program to assist "mototaxistas" to finance the moto, to educate them and to defend their interests.
In Togo there have been 238 elections on public and private level involving 23.561 workers who elected 642 delegates, from which 456 delegates are trade union members and 186 are independent. The distribution of the results established by the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security is as follows: CSTT 181 delegates (39,69%), CNTT 144 delegates (31,57%), GSA 84 delegates (18,42%), UGSL 32 delegates (7,01%), UNSIT 9 delegates (1,97%) and CGCT 6 delegates (1,31%).

Regarding these results of the social elections and in accordance with the law the confederations CSTT and CNTT are recognized by the Government as ‘representative trade union organisations’.