The Pakistan Federation of Building and Wood Workers (PFBWW) has expressed its concerns over the health and safety of workers who continue to work on construction projects linked to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
BWI affiliates report that it took more than two weeks of negotiations between the government and the construction sector to agree on the terms for the resumption of construction sites that were shut down as part of national efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.
WI-affiliated trade unions, along with national trade union centres, have petitioned their governments to seek financial relief on behalf of workers affected by COVID-19 lockdowns in several South Asian countries. They said that the crisis has dire effects on the livelihood of millions, including daily wage earners and migrant workers.
The Turkish Union of Road, Construction and Building Workers (YOL-IS), responding to reports that many health workers cannot go home and rest for fear that they might infect their families with COVID-19, has made its hotels, guesthouses and other social facilities in several cities available to the frontliners.
An agreement was reached last week between the Macedonian government and trade unions, including BWI affiliates, ensuring that workers’ wages in the public and private sectors would not be reduced and/or terminated during the COVID-19 crisis.
The Nepal Trade Union Centre (NTUC) and the Construction and Allied Workers' Union of Nepal (CAWUN) have demanded that the government address their serious concerns over the vulnerability of the workforce during the COVID-19 lockdown, including informal, migrant workers and health workers.
The unions in the Philippines have won better social protections for workers amidst increasingly repressive conditions and threats during the lockdown, while the number of COVID-19 cases continues to grow.
The Trade Union of Workers in Construction of Roads and Public & Private Works of the State of Parana (SINTRAPAV-PR) has successfully concluded an agreement with its employer for the safe return to their families of 6,000 complete with transportation tickets, wages and full benefits. The said agreement was reached as part of a deal to protect workers from COVID-19.
The BWI affiliates in Bulgaria report that the government is not doing enough to secure workers’ jobs and income from COVID-19, which makes them vulnerable to the health and economic impacts of the pandemic.
The Korean Federation of Construction Industry Trade Unions (KFCITU) is taking action to ensure that workers, especially those on daily employment contracts, on several construction sites that shut down due to COVID-19, are paid in full.
On 31 March, BWI, together with the other trade unions and social movements, sent a letter to the Qatari government expressing their growing concern regarding the vulnerability of migrant workers to COVID-19 in the country.
The National Federation of Construction, Wood and Building Materials Workers (FENTICOMMC), BWI’s affiliate in the Dominican Republic, has organized “workers’ brigades which distributed 2,300 bags of food and other supplies to construction workers.
The Colombian Association of Construction, Building Materials and Woodworkers (INTERGREMIAL) reported that Columbian workers are not equally protected and compensated by the government in the fight against COVID-19.
While Malaysia has been in lockdown since 18 March to stop the spread of COVID-19, more than 200 timber mills across the country have been given work stoppage exemptions, leaving thousands of migrant workers concerned about their health and safety.
The National Union of Civil Engineering Construction, Furniture and Wood Works (NUCECFWW) in Nigeria expressed its shock and disappointment this week over a company’s refusal to comply with the government’s directive to shut down all workplaces as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions (GFBU) reported this week that it is continuing its work of reaching out to workers, particularly to construction workers, on ways how they can ensure their good health and safety, and secure their incomes and other means of livelihood.
While Indonesia has a Health Quarantine Law, the government has yet to implement a lockdown and temporary close workplaces to protect its citizen from Covid-19. This was reportedly widely criticised by the public, particularly by trade unions which viewed it as prioritising big business interests over and above public health.
On 30 March, the Russian capital, Moscow, was put under a city-wide lockdown in an attempt to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to the country. While Russia has been relatively spared by the pandemic, the number of people testing positive has risen quickly.
As a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Union of Construction and Industrial Assemblage Workers (SINTEC-Chile) calls on the Chilean government to implement a workers' quarantine to safeguard the health and lives of workers, secure employment and income and suspend payment of basic services, loans and credits from financial institutions.
With Qatar under a COVID-19 lockdown, 16,000 workers housed in an accommodation facility found it difficult to get their salaries as access to automated teller machines (ATM) has been strictly regulated to prevent the spread of the virus.
With the enforcement of the world’s largest COVID-19 lockdown, trade unions in India raised serious concerns that Indian women workers, who make up around 90 percent of India’s vast informal sector (470 million people), will likely be disproportionately affected by the economic impact of the pandemic.
UOLRA will be giving migrant brick workers in small family-owned brick factories 5,000 Argentine Pesos (about USD 78) for 4 months to offset their loss of income due to the temporary closure of small brick factories.
The CFMEU Construction and General Division, the Master Builders of Australia and other major construction industry players are all in agreement that building work must continue despite the COVID-19 crisis.
BWI affiliates in Turkey reported that the country has started to take preventive measures against the COVID-19 outbreak this month. They said that the government has started imposing restrictions on incoming travelers and closed schools, bars and night clubs and suspended all national and international events. However, the country is not yet on a total lockdown as public transport is still operating and public institutions, shopping malls and banks are still open. Workplaces are also continuing production.
Last 17th of March, the confederation DGB in Germany met with the employers’ association and the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs to discuss ways to address the COVID-19 crisis. Given the serious threat to public health, workers’ livelihood and the economy, the government, unions and employers all agreed to share the responsibility in fighting the pandemic. The unions and employers asked the federal government to prepare a comprehensive plan to avert a possible economic recession.
On 18 March, Histadrut and the Israeli government signed a collective agreement that will regulate the employment of public sector workers during the COVID-19 crisis. The agreement is signed for the period of 19 March 2020 to 16 April 2020.
BWI affiliates in Brazil on Monday claimed victory after they successfully pressured its government to back down on a measure that aims to suspend the employment contract of all workers for up to 4 months without salaries as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Unorganised workers (known as workers in the informal economy elsewhere) are subject to the Coronavirus just like other workers. With most of the state governments in India calling on people to strictly observe social distancing and remain in their homes, this is causing a major impact on unorganised workers, many of whom work in construction.
The Industrial Union Construction, Agricultural and Environmental (IG BAU)-Germany today called for an increase on COVID-19 short-time work allowances for workers. In a petition, the union called on its members to take action and put pressure on the federal government to provide 90 percent short-time allowances to workers as one of many measures to protect the workers's health, safety and livelihood from the global health crisis.
Saúl Méndez, Secretary General of SUNTRACS and President of the BWI Regional Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean (LACR), together with other SUNTRACS trade union leaders, met with the President of the Republic of Panama, Laurentino Cortizo, and the Minister of Labor.
The CMWEU, together with its sister unions from the CTSP National Centre, held a dialogue with the Ministry of Labour on how the government can ensure that specific measures and protocols are put in place and observed by companies to ensure the workers’ health and safety against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Amid the conflicting policy proposals on how to respond to COVID-19, the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT), representing workers in the United States and Canada, has called for congressional action to support workers impacted by the pandemic.
At the beginning of the week of 16 March, the Swedish government presented a crisis package on how to deal with the impact of the Coronavirus. A temporary system of short-term work was immediately introduced which will be valid until the end of the year.
The BWI Belgian affiliates ACV-BIE and CG FGTB reported today that Belgium was officially placed under a lockdown until 5 April as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This makes Belgium the latest country to impose such a measure.
The ILO Report: Impacts and Responses, described and linked in this ILO news release, speaks of the current challenges and what needs to be done for workers and to sustain economic activity. Equally important, it urges us to look to the future.
Qatar’s Ministry of Labour (MADLSA) convened an emergency meeting with leaders of different migrant worker communities last 12th of March to relay information on the measures being taken by the Qatari government to protect its citizens and workers against the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Council of Global Unions (CGU), representing 200 million workers, called on governments and employers in all countries to act swiftly to save lives and to limit the spread of COVID 19. It said that the crisis is a fundamental issue of health, occupational health and safety, and rights and social protections.