US: Court strikes down executive orders which would have eased hire and fire of federal staff
25 August 2018: U.S. District Court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson struck down those provisions of the Trump administration’s workforce executive orders, which were aimed to ease hire and fire of federal staff concluding that they conflicted with the 1978 Civil Service Reform Act.
In May, 2018 President Trump had issued three executive orders, the first of which sought to standardize the length of performance improvement plans at 30 days government wide and exempt adverse personnel actions from grievance proceedings. Another sought to streamline collective bargaining negotiations, and the third order aimed to significantly reduce the number of work hours union members can spend on official time as well as the activities that are eligible for the practice.
More than 12 unions appealed against the executive orders in the Court. The Court held that collective bargaining is an act of good-faith for public good and can not be curbed. Further, the judge held that the executive orders were in violation of Civil Service Reform Act, 1978 and that the law precludes the president from weighing in on collective bargaining altogether.
US: Uber to pay $10 million in damages to workers for racial discrimination and harassment
22 August 2018: In a case pertaining to 2017 taxi aggregator service Uber has agreed to pay 56 current and former employees about $33,900 each, or $1.9 million, to settle their claims of gender discrimination, harassment and hostile work environment.
In addition to the $1.9 million, another $5.1 million will be divided among more than 480 workers, including the 56 who are receiving compensation in other matters.
The lawsuit was filed against Uber in October 2017 by three female Latina employees working as engineers who were being paid less than their white or Asian male colleagues. The petitioners were victim of Uber’s discriminatory ‘stack ranking’ system, which undervalued work of female employees and employees of colour, systematically and led to lower pay because of average, lower rankings despite equal or better performance.
Uber’s head of human resources Liane Hornsey resigned in July, 2018 following an internal investigation on how she handled racial discrimination claims within the company.
US & Canada: Inmates stage nationwide prison labour strike over ‘modern slavery’
21 August 2018: Around 2.3 million people incarcerated across United States of America and Canada are on a 19-day strike starting 21 August 2018 demanding an immediate end to imposed labour in return for paltry wages. More than 800,000 prisoners are daily put to work in the US, in most states compulsorily, in roles such as cleaning, cooking and lawn mowing. The remuneration for this forced work is as low as 4 cent per hour in some states.
Jailhouse Lawyers Speak, a collective of prisoners which is spearheading the strike has put forth a 10 point nationwide charter of demands which includes improved prison conditions, an end to life without parole sentences, increased funding for rehabilitation services and an end to the disenfranchisement of around 6 million citizens with felony convictions who are barred from voting. Prisoners from Canada have joined the strike call and added their demands to the 10-point charter.
Inmates have been refusing work, holding sit-ins and staging hunger strikes across the two nations.
Australia: Aloca Mine workers oppose collective agreement which dents job security
17 August 2018: Employees of mining giant Aloca have refused management proposed collective agreement which offers wage hike but pushes workers towards precarious jobs. More than 1600 workers have gone on strike since 8 August 2018 demanding fresh negotiations on the proposed agreement.
Pakistan: 19 workers die due to mine collapse in Baluchistan province
16 August 2018: All the 13 miners who were working inside a mine in Sanjidi area of Quetta, Baluchistan on 12 August 2018 died after the mine caved in due to methane gas explosion.
Volunteers launched rescue operations which had to be put on halt after about ten rescue workers fainted during the process, out of which six were later found dead of asphyxiation due to the poisonous methane gas. More than 74 mine related deaths have been reported in Pakistan this year.
Italy: Government promulgates law to curb temporary job contracts
7 August 2018: The newly elected Government of Italy has brought in legislation which increases costs for firms that use temporary work contracts and reduces the number of times such temporary contracts can be renewed to a maximum of two years from three. The move is aimed at curbing the rise in precarious jobs in the country which has been facing economic crisis for over half-a-decade now. Recent figures show that last year 394,000 temporary jobs were created while the number of permanent jobs declined by 83,000.
The law also has provisions for recalling monies and imposing fines on firms that receive state financial support or tax breaks and then move their production abroad, in order to retain jobs within the country.
Ireland: Court awards €7500 to worker for dealing with work emails after working hours
2 August 2018: Gráinne O’Hara an employee of the meat producer company, Kepak Convenience Foods Unlimited Co has been awarded €7,500 for being required to deal with out-of-hours work emails, including some after midnight, that led to work in excess of 48 hours a week.
The Court held that replying to work emails after working hours amounted to overtime work and violated the Organisation of Working Time Act.