International News

UK: THOUSANDS QUIT JOBS BECAUSE OF RACISM

More than 120,000 workers from minority ethnic backgrounds have quit their jobs because of racism, TUC research have found. The landmark study concluded workplace discrimination is sapping the confidence of a large part of the UK workforce. More than one in four workers from Black and other minority ethnic backgrounds have faced racist jokes at work in the last five years and eight per cent of victims left their job as a result of the racism they experienced, it found. A separate TUC report last month exposed widespread racial inequalities in occupational health and safety and highlighted “the importance of interaction with existing workplace health and safety reps for encouraging new recruits to the role and the focus groups advocate the importance of identifying, nurturing, encouraging and supporting a new generation of Black reps.”

Source: TUC news release. Usdaw news release. The Guardian.
Health, safety and racism in the workplace: A study of Black workers’ experiences, TUC, 2022.

KOREA: TRUCK DRIVERS FIGHT ‘DEADLY SQUEEZE'

On 16 August, four members of the Korean Public Service and Transport Workers’ Union Cargo Truckers’ Solidarity Division (KPTU-TruckSol) gained access to the top of the building housing the headquarters of Hite-Jiro, South Korea’s top alcohol manufacture. The workers were protesting Hite-Jiro’s ‘deadly squeeze’ on truck drivers.  Global transport union ITF said this desperate act came close to three months after Hite-Jiro truck drivers began strike action for ‘safe rates’ on 2 June. Drivers, who are classified as independent contractors, say rates have been frozen for the last 15 years and are too low to cover the costs of operating vehicles with fuel prices and cost-of-living skyrocketing. Instead of bargaining with the drivers’ union in good faith, however, Hite-Jiro has notified 130 workers of the cancellation of their contracts and filed a suit for damages worth KRW 2.8 billion (GBP 1.76 million) against striking workers.

Source: ITF news release.

JAPAN: ASBESTOS MANUFACTURER IN PAYOUT FIRST

An asbestos products manufacturer in Japan has become the first to settle an asbestos-related cancer claim. The settlement was reached at Osaka District Court on 23 August. Japan Insulation Co agreed to pay the bereaved family of a male construction worker 12.87 million yen (£80,000) in compensation, almost on par with the maximum amount of benefits provided by the government under the asbestos victims relief law, or 13 million yen per victim. Japan Insulation, which is listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, offered to settle the suit. The settlement includes an apology from the company. The man worked as an exclusive subcontractor for the company's predecessor between 1981 and 1997, installing asbestos-containing fireproofing on steel frames. He died in 1999 at the age of 74 after developing lung cancer.

Source: Nippon News.

UK: NEW ‘WHOLE SCHOOL APPROACH’ TO WELLBEING IN WALES

An NEU project in Wales aims to introduce ‘a whole school approach to wellbeing for all’. Stuart Williams, NEU Cymru’s policy officer, said: “Excessive workload continues to be the leading cause of workplace stress and mental health issues. We feel we need a holistic, whole-school, multi-agency approach to improving mental health and wellbeing across the education sector, and this is why today’s event is so important.” He added: “Every workplace must be supported to conduct a stress/wellbeing audit, so that any issues can be identified and addressed.” He said: “Every time a new policy/strategy/initiative is introduced, a workload impact assessment must be conducted. Educators must be told what they can STOP doing.”

Source: NEU news release.

UK: RETAIL STAFF URGED TO REPORT INCIDENTS

Retail trade union Usdaw has marked the first anniversary of a protection of workers law in Scotland coming into force by urging retail staff to report incidents. The Protection of Workers (Retail and Age-restricted Goods and Services) (Scotland) Act 2021 took effect on 24 August 2021. It provides a new specific offence of assaulting, threatening or abusing a shopworker and a harsher sentence if they were enforcing a statutory age restriction, resulting in a fine or prison sentence. The union said the legislation is a direct result of Usdaw’s Freedom From Fear campaign. Tracy Gilbert, Usdaw regional secretary for Scotland, said: “Usdaw has been working with employers to make it easier for staff to report attacks and abuse, highlighting the legislation to improve confidence, backed up with training, and promoting the importance of reporting all incidents.”

Source: Usdaw news release and Freedom From Fear campaign. Protection of Workers (Retail and Age-restricted Goods and Services) (Scotland) Act 2021.

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