Public Infrastructure Projects

Public infrastructure projects In developing countries more and more infrastructure projects are employing thousands of workers Many of them are funded by Multilateral Development Banks which have now introduced mandatory labor standards. BWI and its affiliates have made advances in organizing strategies such as on the Panama Canal project, the rail and road corridors in the Balkans, on infrastructure projects related to the Football Euro Cup 2012 and the Football World Cup 2014 in Brazil and on hydropower projects in Africa. Labour Clauses are now included in all construction projects funded by the Multilateral Development Banks. The Labour Clauses cover the right to join a Trade Union, the Right to Organise, Collective Bargaining, Health and Safety, Equal Opportunities and of course the prohibition of child and forced labour. The first major infrastructure project funded by the International Finance Corporation is Bujagali hydro electric dam in Jinja, Uganda. In July 2007, the BWI started the organising work with the Uganda Building Workers’ Union. Site meetings were held, and the union began recruiting workers, Safety Reps and shop stewards were elected and trained. The first Collective Bargaining Agreement was negotiated with Salini Construttori, the main contractor, and the Health and Safety committee and site committee were established. All 2,500 workers on the project have remained trade union members, and the second and third annual Collective Bargaining Agreements vastly improved wages and benefits for workers. After some strikes in August 2010 the BWI supports SUNTRACS in meetings with contractors and the Panama Canal Authority. Affiliates from Spain, Belgium and Italy use their influence with the international contractors Sacyr Vallehermoso, Impregilo and Jan de Null to ensure that the consortium, Grupo Unidos por el Canal, respects SUNTRACS and enters into collective agreements with SUNTRACS. Now the union has a collective bargaining agreement with the consortium and a number of complementary project agreements, with unprecedented improvements in facilities for SUNTRACS organisers, Shop Stewards and Health and Safety Representatives. The Project Finance for Pan European Roads and Rail Corridors is from the World Bank, EBRD and EIB, and several International Contractors are to carry out the work, including Strabag and Alpine. In this case, support from the Austrian trade union and from the EWC is of vital importance to the Balkan Trade Unions in dealing with these companies. Organising and recruitment drives are underway. Unions are running campaigns on Labour Standards in the Balkans, with governments, contractors and the media. At the Capital Beltway “HOT Lanes”, a $2.7 billion expansion project to widen the I-495 in Northern Virginia, the involvement of LIUNA’s involvement guarantees good jobs for the workers while making the project a reality at a competitive price. The success story takes place in a setting of joblessness and economic duress. At 25 percent unemployment, construction workers in the region have been the hardest hit of any sector. Achievements from the infrastructure projects for the World Cup 2010 in South Africa provide valuable strategic experience. BWI and its affiliates with the support from unions in Switzerland and Sweden funded the campaign in South Africa. During the construction period 70 000 workers went on strike and won a 12% increase in wages. Membership grew by 39% from 2006 to 2009. For the Brazil World Cup 2014 and Olympics, landmark National tripartite agreement has been signed for the construction industry, for the first time in Brazil, covering employment conditions of workers, skills training and Health and Safety at work. Unions are targeting infrastructure projects in the 12 host cities, as well as the stadia, hotels, housing and power projects currently underway, in order to make the national agreement a reality for workers on site. At a project to improve the Cambodian rail infrastructure, the union has recruited a large majority of the workers and carried out the union elections. They are now negotiating the Collective Bargaining Agreement to cover all workers on the project up to the end of 2013. In Nepal, on the Melamchi Hydro electric dam project, unions have recruited 85% of all staff and reached the first agreements with contractors two years ago. They are currently negotiating a new, improved, collective bargaining agreement with project management.

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