Telefonica & UNI sign up on union rights
Signing the agreement with Telefonica
A framework agreement enshrining the core labour standards that have been at the heart of the row between unions and the World Trade Organisation has been signed by the telecoms giant Telefonica with UNI, Union Network International.
News of the deal will be reported this week to the first meeting of UNI’s European Regional Executive in Lisbon (Thursday April 13 and Friday April 14).
Grupo Telefonica have committed themselves to recognise trade unions and to negotiate with them where they exist in their rapidly expanding global operations.
The agreement – which covers 120,000 employees worldwide - also involves a commitment to the provision of a universal service to customers and to respect the environment.
“This is a major breakthrough,” said UNI’s General Secretary Philip Jennings.
“The human rights of workers to organise and bargain were highlighted by the International Labour Organisation in 1998, now multi-nationals are beginning to sign up to them.
“It’s time the Governments who have backed ILO Conventions also support these core rights by writing them into trade agreements at the WTO.”
The Portuguese President, Dr Jorge Fernando Branco Sampaio, will open the two-day meeting of 90-strong UNI-Europa Executive.
Among the items being discussed are union input into the plans for e-Europe, a European strategy for collective bargaining under the euro and the trade union role in countries applying to join the European Union.
UNI wants the EU to adopt a “computers for all” strategy with public access to the internet from libraries, town halls and even supermarkets to help close the computer gap between Europe and the USA along with greater recruitment of women and older people to fill 500,000 European vacancies for computer staff.
UNI has a number of projects to assist unions in Central and Eastern Europe – which are increasingly being targeted for expansion by EU multi-nationals.
Other speakers at the opening session of the UNI-Europa Executive meeting will be Dr Jorge Paulo Sacadura Almeida Coelho, the Portuguese Vice Prime Minister, and Dr Joao Barroso Soares, the Mayor of Lisbon.
– UNI is the skills and services international that was launched on January 1. UNI covers a range of industries including commerce, finance, telecoms, postal, computer and industry white-collar staff, business services, graphical and media & entertainment.
– UNI-Europa has 7.5 million members in 328 unions.
– UNI has 18 affiliated unions in countries where Telefonica operates, including Spain, Portugal and Romania in Europe and Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Mexico and the United States in the Americas. They cooperated through the UNI Telefonica Union Alliance (GITT) to campaign for the framework agreement with Telefonica.
– The Executive meeting is being held at the Dom Pedro Lisboa Hotel from 9.30 am on Thursday, April 13.
– On Friday a European employment conference in Commerce is being held at the Alfa Lisboa Hotel involving unions and employers. Two EC Commissioners (Liikanen and Diamantopoulou) are due to speak.