Everywhere, trade unionists from the GLI Paris network are organizing to deal with the COVID crisis19

Below is an update on how the network’s trade unionists are fighting to support workers and citizens and prepare for the next.


News from Belgium, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, USA, France, Mali, Morocco, Quebec, Senegal, Switzerland and Tunisia.


Together, everywhere for transnational trade unionism!

Belgium

The containment was put in place from 18 March 2020, schools had already been closed since 16 March. Efforts are being made by the Belgian population to get through the crisis, including more flexibility for workers and a shift in the hours allowed for étudiant.es (hours with lower social contributions). 
On 24 April 2020, the National Security Council presented its progressive, non-definitive de-conference strategy, which has been in place since 4 May 2020. 

CEPAG continues its activities by organizing some activist conferences via social networks.  The aim is to maintain the social link and support people who are alone and/or in financial difficulty as a result of the temporary unemployment imposed (1,200,000 people receive only 55% of their gross salary capped at a maximum of 1520 euros per month, for a full time).
They are also an opportunity to analyse the situation from an anti-capitalist point of view.
At the same time, CEPAG seeks to bring together trade unionists and actors from the associative world to think about alternatives in a global way.

There are different trade union reflections on the table 

  • Ensuring the sanitary conditions of a return to work for everyone
  • Ensuring childcare
  • Exiting the crisis on a sustainable ecological basis
  • Prohibition of possible use of tracing applications to contain the virus

The challenge for Belgian trade unions is to use this crisis to shift the balance of power in favour of salarié.es, whether in terms of wages, production rates, safety and hygiene, equality, ecology…


Find the cePAG’s writings by following the link

BURKINA FASO

A state of health emergency has been declared since 26 March 2020. The emergency measures provide for

  • Closing borders
  • Quarantine of cities that have recorded a case of COVID19
  • Closing markets and open sales spaces
  • Closing schools
  • The ban on gatherings of more than 50 people
  • The introduction of a curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.
  • The imposition of mandatory wearing of nose cache
  • Popularization of prevention measures

IUF Burkina Faso is raising awareness of preventive measures against COVID 19. Posters, flyers and flyers were made and placed in the workplace. Some places could be provided in hand-washing kits and nose hideouts.

On the domestic workers’ side, employers are not supported. To make up for this, IUTA introduced them to the manufacture of soap and hand washers and helped them sell them in administrations to maintain an income.
IUTA advocates for the maintenance of workstations for their domestic and informal workers and affiliates.

The demands made are based on the maintenance of jobs, the implementation of support measures for workers in the event of a pandemic (revision of working hours, forms of work, compensation of losses, not to mention combating gender-based violence).
For their government affiliates, IUTA has secured the maintenance of part-time jobs (rotation system).


Burkina Faso: IUTA affiliates take the lead in worker protection.

Cameroon

The government of Cameroon has not put in place partial or total containment. Such a measure is not compatible with the economic organization of the country or the informal sector employs nearly 80% of the population (with day-to-day incomes and essential daily outings).
Awareness campaigns against the disease still encourage people to stay at home as much as possible.
Other measures are being put in place such as the closure of land, sea and air borders, the closure of schools and universities and the ban on the gathering of more than fifty individuals.

Follow the link to listen to the testimony of a victim of declining incomes since taking action
governments facing COVID19 in Cameroon 

OnEsEnsemble organizes the continuation of its activities by promoting telework and refocusing on communication activities and on the resumption of contacts with all members and the association by telephone.

OnEstEnsemble is also experimenting with the launch of online campaigns, directly or indirectly related to the situation (decrease in income due to the crisis situation, difficulties in accessing water, excessive power cuts). People are mobilized on different Facebook groups, Whatsapp, and FB pages. Groups are created for the different campaigns, to facilitate discussions and make decisions together.

A Facebook group: Solidarity Douala – Covid-19 has been set up to collect testimonies about the situation, connect people who have needs or can offer their help, share information.

OnEstEnsemble asks 

  • Financial measures to support activities that have been put on the ground and for people who are partially or totally unemployed
  • Measures for better access to water and electricity for all
  • Measures on health service as a public service: Covid-related health costs, testing and treatment

And also denounces the shortcomings on the measures taken by the government via the platform of coastal civil society.

United states

In the United States, the impact of COVID19 varies greatly from state to state. New York State and Louisiana are saturated. Despite rising daily balance sheets, more than 35 states have begun to lift or are about to lift their containment measures to revive the country’s economy.

Faced with a lack of union coordination, TUED New York has made it its mission to bring together members of their network to reflect together on the consequences of the crisis. A first webinar was organized in this direction and gathered more than 200 participants. TUED NY would like to seize this opportunity to give visibility to its policy line of defence of the commons.
TUED NY plans to host a virtual global trade union meeting over several days from June 25 to July 7, 2020. The challenge of this assembly is to deepen the analysis of the current crises and their social and economic impacts and to strengthen north-south solidarity.

France

The health emergency was declared on 24 March 2020 for a period of 2 months and then renewed until 24 July.
A partial containment of the population has been put in place. Any movement of persons outside the home is prohibited with the exception of travel for the following reasons on certificate: exercise of professional activity if telework is not possible, purchases of supplies necessary for professional activity and purchases of basic necessities, for reasons of health or compelling family motive, short travel within the limit of one hour daily and within a maximum radius of one kilometer around the home.
Schools, high schools and universities are currently closed and will partially reopen from 11 May 2020.
A gradual de-conference has been in place since 11 May 2020 under certain conditions.

The Union Syndicale Solidaires has set up several online schemes to support workers, unemployed and students to assert their rights

Solidaires claims 

  • The defence of rights at work (no work without security, 100% compensation if partial unemployment, compliance with safety standards for those who perform essential work)
  • Sharing information and international solidarity through the International Trade Union Network for Solidarity and Struggles
  • Maintaining links with other social movements, including trade unions
  • Highlighting substantive issues, including the role of capitalism in the spread of the virus on a global scale through the destruction of public services and the establishment of the free market. The union advocates breaking with this system.

The CGT provides workers with a series of sheets, updated regularly, to answer the main questions that arise in the face of the state of emergency (activity and partial unemployment, confinement and telework, coronavirus and breach of the employment contract, right of withdrawal, etc.). An economic note has also been published that analyses the “state of health emergency” law.
The CGT also comments on the government’s announcements on its website to allow a better understanding of the situation

The CGT asks

  • Immediate cessation of all non-essential activities 
  • The provision of individual and collective protections for all staff to work under penalty of right of withdrawal when these conditions are not validated by the CSE and CSSCT of the establishment or company
  • Stopping activities for all employees of digital platforms and creating wage compensation similar to other employees 
  • Full payment of wages through the enactment of a health disaster decree and the use of insurance groups as in the event of a natural disaster 
  • The ban on all redundancies, regardless of the reason
  • The end of policies to reduce public spending that weaken our services and public enterprises, which are essential

IRES researchers are reorienting their work to take account of the crisis, including

  • A note calling for a moratorium on rents for at-risk populations – published on 20 April
  • A publication in the “International Chronicle of Ires” on the health mobilization of states in the face of the pandemic. 12 countries will be treated – scheduled for release in September

A working group has been set up around the issue of the hierarchy of trades – social recognition. Specialists in the following trades are mobilized: EHPAD caregivers, family caregivers, cashier, platform worker. Interventions in public debate are planned as well as publications.
The continuation of the platform observatory project with the European confederation. Priority is given to the creation of the website to allow the visibility of collectives during the health crisis.

The Sharers and Workers network co-wrote and signed an op-ed calling on platforms to take responsibility for employers in occupational health and safety and calling on the government to improve revenue loss protections. The grandstand is available here.

SNAPEC’s self-employed workers are very affected by the consequences of the health crisis, probably for many months to come.

One of the priority issues for SNAPEC is the definition of shared orientations with union members and more broadly workers in the climbing and canyon sector. This work is done in particular in connection with the CGT FERC (federation) on the field of sport.

To support its independent members, SNAPEC pools with several other professions an expert on social/tax/regulatory issues that allows them to answer most of the questions that are currently being asked.

The main threat posed by the crisis is the absence or near absence of revenue from the usual activities of the self-employed by September. This is accompanied by a very large shortfall for many related to seasonality. The priority is the maintenance of current aid and the rapid implementation of new aid adapted to seasonality.

Mali

Mali’s president has declared a state of emergency and instituted a curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.

The fight of SYTRAIL continues because so far the trains do not run in Mali. Under pressure from SYTRAIL supported by the Democratic Workers’ Central of Mali (C.D.T.M) the state of Mali has made many statements that have gone unanswered. Malian railway workers have been living without wages for four months.

In response to the pandemic, SYTRAIL organized an awareness ceremony on 21 April 2020 after receiving sanitary kits for hand washing. The organization is still waiting for aid to obtain sanitary equipment.
The situation of the railway workers remains very harsh “If the coronavirus does not kill us hunger and famine will be the reason for us”. Already the sick comrades of the after-effects of the “Hunger Strike” have serious health problems.

Morocco

Schools and nurseries have been closed since 16 March. A state of health emergency has been declared since 19 March and extended until 20 May 2020. A containment is put in place with the obligation to carry a traffic permit and, since April 6, to wear a mask for any out-of-home travel.

The UMT maintains contacts with the basic unions of the various contact centres where they are present by telephone and videoconferencing. Meetings are held in extreme cases when it comes to social conflicts in accordance with the restrictive measures in force.
The UMT also prioritizes maintaining close links with international comrades to develop strategies and exchange useful information to limit the impact of the health crisis on call centre workers.
The UMT urges its delegates sitting in the CHST and trade union representatives to make use of the right of withdrawal despite the fact that it is not yet legislated in Morocco. 

The UMT asks 

  • Opportunity to exercise the right of withdrawal (which is not yet legislated in Morocco) to protect the most vulnerable workers.
  • Conditioning business assistance with the maintenance of jobs and wages
  • Include workers in the informal sector and immigrants in the state aid scheme and deplores the exclusion of the Moroccan trade union movement from the Covid-19 Special National Watch Committee

At the same time, the UMT ensures that the emergency situation is not used by employers as a reason to lay off and re-emphasize the social gains of workers. 


QUEBEC

A state of health emergency has been declared since March 13 by the government and then by all Canadian provinces and territories in May. Emergency measures include:

  • Banning the gathering of two or more people;
  • Closure of all workplaces that are not designated as “essential”;
  • Opening access to free screening and care services related to COVID-19 to all persons regardless of health insurance or immigration status

In addition, governments have implemented special subsidy programs for individuals and businesses. In particular, the federal government has already put into special measures, the largest budget since the Great Recession.
The Canadian provinces, including Quebec, have announced the gradual de-conference that will be phased in from May 4, 2020 under certain conditions.

The Centre for Immigrant Workers (CTI) is reorganizing its activities in collaboration with other labour and community organizations. Her concerns focus on monitoring health and safety measures in critical workplaces and helping access to public and private subsidies for insecure workers, including migrants.es and undocumented workers. To do this, are set up:

  • Workers’ consultation services, including on occupational health and safety and access to grant programs.
  • Press conferences
  • A poster was issued in collaboration with the Regional Council of the Federation of Quebec Metropolitan Montreal Workers (CRFTQMM) and the Central Council of Metropolitan Montreal of the Confederation of National Trade Unions (CCMM-CSN): “Essential workers, long invisible”
  • Webinar: “In occupational health and safety: Solidarity more than ever!”
  • Social media campaign: messages and images “Solidaires more than ever!”
  • Online workshops: informative workshops for insecure workers on their rights in the health crisis.


To accompany the de-conference, the ITC plans to

  • Monitoring workplace health and safety conditions in the context of deconfinment
  • A consulting service for insecure workers
  • A series of webinars in collaboration with the groups that signed the Joint Declaration for a minimum wage at $15 an hour: workers’ status.eue.s precarious in the crisis and post-COVID strategies;
  • Media actions: journalistic publications (article and open letter) and press conference.

SENEGAL

A curfew has been in place since March. It is forbidden to go out between 8pm and 6am. 
Gatherings in public places are prohibited as well as the organization of religious events, even in places of worship. 
The wearing of the mask is mandatory for everyone (decreed from the Ministry of the Interior). Schools and universities are closed from March 16 to May 11, 2020 (a date likely to be postponed). 

The movement has grown fed up with workers and people living since the beginning of the pandemic.
The first act was to ask the government to close the borders on the first imported case of COVID-19.
In early March, President Macky Sall called for national dialogue with the nation’s forces. Political parties as well as citizen movements went to respond to the hearings granted by the president. The movement was received at the palace in this context and pleaded for the cancellation of water bills, electricity and the reduction of basic necessities.
We are fed up with the fact that, after the government’s decision to set up an inclusive management committee, it is clear that this committee in its composition is taking on a political dimension. In particular in the distribution of food aid to the poorest populations.

With the collaboration of the artists of the movement, a single awareness was created to inform people of the dangers of the disease.
To date, awareness video capsules are being designed on a weekly basis to keep people on alert.
For almost a month, a fight has been underway for the reopening of the only drug manufacturer (MEDIS) in Senegal (closed since January for economic reasons)



The Y’en fed up graffiti artist encourages people to respect the physical distance in the waiting wires by creating footprints.

Switzerland

Switzerland has introduced a semi-containment of the population. Only gatherings of more than 5 people are prohibited and individual outings are allowed without reason, provided they respect social distance. In response to the crisis, the government has released 32 billion Swiss francs to support the economy.
A first phase of de-conference has taken place since 27 April 2020, including the reopening of DIY stores and hair salons. A second stage is planned for 11 May 2020 with the reopening of compulsory schools.

UNIA works on three levels: health protection, income protection and job protection
UNIA asks 

  • The closure of all non-essential activities and safeguards for employees active in key sectors. UNIA has obtained (for a short time) the closure of construction sites in Geneva and has imposed strict protection measures on several companies and branches.
  • Full compensation for wages, as well as coverage for the most insecure, who are now left without income
  • The ban on layoffs for any company that has received public aid to compensate for the wave of layoffs that is preparing for the end of confinement

As the right to withdraw employees is lacking in Switzerland, UNIA acts as a trade union structure to block activities. Work stoppages took place.
UNIA is currently negotiating with the Geneva government a supplementary allowance for temporary workers, domestic economics, fake independents (Uber Eats couriers) and others
Action with airport employees is scheduled for 15 May in this regard, the date originally planned for the climate strike. 

The CUAE is working on two main areas to support students in this time of crisis

  • The establishment of financial support for people in training who have lost their jobs
  • The absence of academic consequences for students

The university’s rectorate quickly responded positively to requests for financial assistance.
The CUAE is campaigning for the scholarship service to be used for the distribution of emergency aid.
The main fight is the cancellation of the examinations that remain in place. The CUAE requests validation with white self-assessment examinations. A national coordination has been created for this.
An online FAQ has been set up to answer students’ questions and a website has been set up to collect testimonies of the difficulties experienced by students.
The CUAE asks

  • Exemptions from rent payments
  • The introduction of financial aid for students (in progress)

Sign UNIA’s call for a solidarity exit from the crisis

Tunisia

Classes have been suspended in all schools and universities since March 12, 2020.
On 20 March, a total containment was put in place as well as a ban on all travel between conurbations. It is expected to be lightened from 4 May.
On 12 April 2020, the President of the Republic, Kais Saïed, ratified the law on the derogation of the head of government from governing by order to deal with the repercussions of the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus, lasting two months. 

The CGTT organises the continuation of its activities by maintaining a minimum service to ensure the support of their company delegates. Meetings are organized online through telecommunications tools. The CGTT has set up a COVID19 structure that monitors the various delegates in companies to ensure continuity of work and to deal with the various aberrations related to unfair dismissal or otherwise. The CGTT’s main activities are 

  • Ongoing negotiations with the various business leaders to ensure the continuity of the employment contract and the payment of wages
  • Work with different associations to collect aid (food) and distribution to cope with the difficult conditions of citizens because of total containment.
  • Asks the government to develop an action plan to save jobs and deal with abuses by different business leaders.
  • Preparing for a large post-confinement demonstration in case the government opts for lower wages (A day of work has already been taken from April wages).


Support the May 1, 2020 call for Universal Social Protection and Universal Income

Thank you all, yours for your mobilization. Solidarity with workers around the world!

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