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ILWU secures jurisdiction in Humboldt Bay offshore wind project

By Staff - ILWU, August 11, 2023

On August 10, the Humboldt Bay Harbor District approved a project labor agreement (PLA) for the construction of an offshore wind terminal at the Port of Humboldt Bay that also secures the ILWU’s traditional, historic, and geographic jurisdiction at the Port.

More than 40 ILWU members from ILWU Locals 14, 18, 34, 54, and the Inlandboatmen’s Union (IBU) came to the meeting and spoke in favor of the agreement. Longshore work is not a part of the PLA, which only covers the construction of the terminal, however, the ILWU and the California State Building Trades Council negotiated an amendment in the agreement that ensures that loading and unloading of cargo “shall remain the sole jurisdiction of the ILWU.”

The ILWU Executive Board’s Offshore Wind Subcommittee, chaired by Local 34 President Sean Farley, has been working with the ILWU Organizing Department and Washington, D.C. Legislative Department for more than two years. They have been meeting with officials at the federal, state, and local levels, offshore wind developers, and the California State Building Trades Council to protect ILWU jurisdiction and to make it clear that ILWU members will be loading and offloading all cargo and that the members of the IBU will also be performing their traditional work on these projects.

Members of Local 14 in Eureka have been meeting with Humboldt Bay Harbor District Commissioners for more than a year and attending Harbor District meetings monthly to learn about this new industry, build relationships, and protect the ILWU’s jurisdiction.

Construction on the terminal is not expected to start until 2025 and could take up to three years to complete. The offloading of any cargo could be at least 7 years away but it is essential to be involved in the process early to protect longshore work and the work of IBU mariners.

“The Humboldt Bay Offshore Wind project will be the first, but not the last offshore wind project on the West Coast,” said ILWU International Vice President Bobby Olvera, Jr. “Securing our jurisdiction on this first project sets an important precedent as we continue to fight to protect our work on future offshore wind projects.”

Industrial Workers in Australia Are Leading the Fight Against War

By Chris Dite and Arthur Rorris - Jacobin, May 11, 2023

Workers in an industrial trading port in Australia are now at the forefront of the fight against war with China*, demanding that jobs and environmental protections take precedence over militarism.

On May Day, thousands of workers from in and around the industrial trading city of Port Kembla in New South Wales (NSW) rallied against the AUKUS deal. AUKUS will see Australia procure nuclear-powered submarines from the United States, and is designed to counter the rise of China as a global power. To date, this was the biggest demonstration against the pact held anywhere in the world.

AUKUS potentially involves Port Kembla hosting a US nuclear submarine base. This would come at the expense of the region’s developing green energy infrastructure. The protesting workers argued that the current drive to war will endanger the city and imperil the many thousands of union jobs that would be guaranteed by a green transformation.

International media outlets in AUKUS partner countries and China have begun to take notice. The workers of Port Kembla will now prove decisive in shaping not only their own futures, but Australia’s role in the biggest conflict of the era.

Jacobin spoke with Arthur Rorris, secretary of the South Coast Labour Council, to find out how this small city came to take the lead in the fight for jobs and peace.

Equity for a Green New Deal at The Big One Trade Union hub

May Day 2023 Port Kembla

The latest on the Just Transition

By staff - Nautilus International, May 2, 2023

At the Nautilus Professional and Technical Forum in April, head of international relations Danny McGowan gave a presentation on the hot maritime topic of 2023: the Just Transition.

What this means at its heart is that workers should be treated fairly in the move towards greener shipping. Nautilus is part of the international Maritime Just Transition Task Force, which recently commissioned a report by the DNV classification society to seek insights into the seafarer training and skills needed to support a decarbonised shipping industry.

The DNV report focuses on the four 'alternative' energy sources that are closest to widespread adoption: LNG and LPG, hydrogen, methanol and ammonia.

The concept of Just Transition means that if some of these alternatives are implemented, there should be a health and safety first approach, with strict rules about handling dangerous new fuels like ammonia and human-centred design for new vessels and new technologies onboard.

It also means that training should be standardised, should be provided at no cost to existing seafarers and not-for-profit for new seafarers.

The DNV report is helping to bring clarity on the uptake of alternative fuel options and the trajectory of decarbonisation, so that the industry can plan for the transformation of the maritime workforce.

Another document that contributes to this process is the Maritime Just Transition Task Force's 10 Point Plan, which establishes Just Transition principles such as global labour standards, gender and diversity and health and safety.

Union welcomes end to labour exploitations made through Offshore Wind Workers Concession

By staff - Nautilus International, April 28, 2023

Nautilus has warned offshore wind employers against seeking to continue to exploit migrant labour following the expected end of the Offshore Wind Workers Concession (OWWC) on 30 April.

Nautilus has consistently campaigned against the OWWC for disincentivising employers from hiring and training UK maritime professionals to work in the rapidly growing industrial sector of offshore wind in UK territorial waters.

Nautilus International general secretary Mark Dickinson said: ‘The end of the OWWC is a welcome move from government. Employers have had almost six years to develop UK maritime professionals in the skills needed for the growth of offshore wind. Instead, they have used this concession to utilise workers from abroad, often on much less pay and weaker conditions, undermining job opportunities and secure employment for UK resident seafarers.

‘Government must commit to a fair visa system ensuring that any seafarer recruited from abroad to work in the UK offshore wind sector is needed and that they receive wages and conditions reflective of UK standards.

‘If government are serious about their commitment to investing in the UK maritime workforce as highlighted in Maritime 2050, they must ensure a level playing field for seafarers across the offshore wind sector.’

The Home Office have said: ‘The OWWC is time limited and leave to enter under the terms of the concession will not be granted beyond 30 April 2023. The concession will not be renewed beyond this date.’

The concession was introduced as a temporary measure in 2017 and has been extended six times.
Nautilus has raised concerns that while this concession may end, employers may seek to find alternative ways to import and exploit workers from abroad, such as using the Migration Advisory Committee shortage occupation list.

International Workers’ Memorial Day 2023: Organise for safe and healthy workplaces

By staff - International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), April 24, 2023

On International Workers’ Memorial Day, 28 April, trade unions are promoting the role that organising plays in making workplaces safer and healthier as we remember all working people who have lost their lives to workplace accidents and disease.

Workers’ unions are planning to use the new ILO fundamental right to a safe and healthy working environment to tackle the shocking death toll of three million workers who die each year because of their work, with tens of millions more suffering life-changing injuries and ill health.

Trade unions will use organising to ensure that the new fundamental right is put into practice and makes a positive difference to the daily lives of working people. The two ILO Conventions (155 and 187) provide backing for union organising, through the creation of workplace safety committees with worker representation, and worker safety representatives in workplaces.

This organising can improve the working environment through the right to refuse dangerous work and consultation rights over risk assessments, occupational health services and the provision of personal protective equipment. Convention 187 also requires the creation of national tripartite health and safety bodies with representation for government, workers and employers.

Combatting toxic workplaces

Around the world, unions will use 28 April to fight risks like asbestos and toxic chemicals, and hazards like long hours and stress in the workplace, as well as demanding an increase in the number of countries ratifying and implementing all ILO health and safety Conventions.

ITUC Deputy General Secretary Owen Tudor said: “Every working person has the right to expect to return home at the end their day’s work. No one should die just to make a living.”

Trade unions make work safer, and they have already saved lives in these areas:

Silicosis

Companies are continuing to expose millions of workers to excessive levels of silica dust, which can cause deadly cancers and lung diseases. Australian unions won new restrictions on products containing silica and cut in half the exposure limit to silica for workers, which could see cases of deadly silicosis drop to one-sixth of the current level.

Seafarers

In 2022, a Dutch court handed an important victory to the ITF, FNV Havens and Nautilus NL who had brought a legal case against Marlow Cyprus, Marlow Netherlands and Expert Shipping. The court ruled that ship managers, ship owners and charterers must honour the non-seafarer’s work clause that only professional dockers do demanding, skilful lashing work when they are available, rather than seafarers. The decision means greater safety for seafarers and secures jobs for dockers.

Nursing homes

In 2020/21, 75,000 nursing home residents in the USA died from the SARS-CoV-2 virus with more than one million nursing home workers testing positive. Unionised nursing homes reported Covid-19 mortality rates of residents 10.8% lower and an infection rate of workers 6.8% lower.

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