UNI Commerce by malj


									UNI Commerce
Third Commercial Workers’ Summit
Sydney, Australia, 16 – 18 April 2002

    Brief report on the work of UNI Commerce,
         priorities for the immediate future

UNI Commerce was established when UNI was founded, in January 2000, to
continue the work of FIET Commerce. There were no changes in membership
connected to the launching of UNI.

UNI Commerce launched its work, with the first meeting of the UNI Commerce
Steering Group, held in Geneva in September 2000. The meeting focused on
multinational retailers and wholesalers.

Commerce activities have been intensified in the UNI regions, reflecting the fast
growth and spread of multinational retailers and wholesalers. Organising, trade
union recognition and collective bargaining have been and will surely continue to be
the main priorities. The global and regional UNI Commerce structures have a role to
play in those areas, where they can bring added value to the joint trade union
effort. While this does not exclude the other functions of an international trade
union structure, it includes particularly:

   Establishing relations and conducting a dialogue with global and regional
    employers‟ structures, with a view of creating conditions for economic and social
    developments in commerce, which promote employment and good quality jobs,
   Establishing relations and conducting a dialogue with leading commerce
    multinationals, with a view of promoting workers‟ and trade union rights and
    corporate social responsibility,
   Promoting the exchange between affiliates of know-how and experiences in the
    fields of organising, trade union development and collective bargaining,
    particularly in support of those commerce trade unions which are facing new
    challenges of economic and social transition and the globalisation of commerce,
   Monitoring economic, structural, technological and social developments in the
    internationalised parts of commerce, informing affiliates about these and co-
    ordinating joint approaches to new challenges.

UNI Commerce or its regional structures are, at least not yet, in the position to
conduct global collective bargaining with employers‟ associations or enterprises.
Their aim must therefore be to enable this work through focusing on workers‟
rights, organising and trade union recognition, through dialogue with employers,
through solidarity campaigns and through other appropriate action.
                The International Labour Organisation
As the first world-wide industry, commerce has launched a permanent global social
dialogue within the ILO. Based on an agreement reached between the workers,
employers and governments at a major ILO Conference for commerce in November
1999, a first meeting of the small tripartite forum was convened in November 2001.
UNI Commerce worked closely with the ILO Office to make this meeting possible
and to prepare it. The November session launched the work on a handbook, with
guidelines for global social dialogue in commerce. This work will continue.

UNI Commerce has also participated actively in the process of developing ILO‟s
sectoral activities, with a view of safeguarding the continuation of global dialogue in
the commerce sector. A tripartite commerce meeting is scheduled for 2003, with
focus on the effects of mergers and take-overs in retail and wholesale trade. We
have suggested that the meeting be somewhat smaller than before, when it used to
have 63 participants, and that more funds could thus be used on a longer term
dialogue and other follow up.

                       Organising in multinationals
Organising remains a top priority for commerce trade unions world-wide. The focus
is on the multinational retailers and wholesalers, which are fast entering new
markets as part of their consolidation and globalisation processes. The role of UNI
Commerce, globally and in the regions, is:

   to secure the right of the workers to join trade unions
   to develop the organising capabilities of affiliates and to support them, when
    necessary, in their organising work.

In commerce, this can best be done through dialogue, based on the various
instruments confirming workers‟ rights to organise and when necessary convincing
management that it is in their interest that their personnel can join trade unions
without conflicts.

UNI Commerce will also continue its work to enable organising by working for
agreements with employer associations and individual employers on different
levels. This is an important part of all corporate social responsibility related

Major UNI Commerce organising projects are on their way with affiliates in Poland,
the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and the
Russian Federation.

   In Poland, full time organisers are supported by ver.di,   Germany and USDAW,
    the United Kingdom. Within the two-year project period,    UNI Commerce affiliate
    Solidarnosc has established a very strong membership       base in Metro‟s hyper-
    market chain Real and has a solid presence in Tesco,       Carrefour, Casino and
    other leading companies.

   In Croatia, a full-time organiser is working with the commerce trade union,
    supported by HK Norway. During the first project year, 2001, the union has
    been able to consolidate its membership and to establish an important presence
    in Rewe-Billa, the leading multinational retailer in Croatia. A UNI Commerce
    meeting for unions with members in Rewe-Billa is scheduled to be held in
    Zagreb, Croatia, in April 2002.
   In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the large organising and union development project
    is supported by affiliates in the Nordic countries. It has helped consolidate and
    stabilise the commerce trade union movement and contributed to its adaptation
    to a new market economy environment.
   UNI-Europa Commerce training courses for organisers have been held in Poland
    and the Czech Republic
   In Russia, the country's first ever comprehensive organising and union
    development project was launched early 2002 by UNI Commerce and its
    affiliate, the commercial workers‟ trade union. At the first stage, the project will
    focus on Metro AG, which has already launched the first of ten planned Cash &
    Carry hypermarkets in Moscow.

Modern organising approaches have been introduced at UNI Commerce seminars,
which have been held in many of these countries, with the support of HK Handel,

A solid basis for organising in multinationals has been established by the global
social dialogue, which the commerce sector is pioneering in the ILO. The world-wide
social partners in commerce have confirmed the full validity of the ILO Declaration
of Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work for their sector. The European social
partners for commerce, UNI-Europa Commerce and EuroCommerce, have
confirmed the same declaration within their social dialogue. The UNI Commerce
web-site gives tools and inspiration for organisers and their unions.

With the world's second largest retailer Carrefour, a 2001 agreement on workers'
rights and social accountability guarantee the right of the 350,000 workers world-
wide to organise in UNI-affiliated trade unions. Regular meetings between UNI
Commerce and the company assure compliance with the agreement in all countries

With Europe's second largest trader Metro AG and with British retail giant Tesco, a
continuous and constructive dialogue aims at securing the same rights.

               Relations with multinational companies:


An agreement on workers‟ rights was signed with Carrefour in 2001, declaring that
“Respect for union rights and recognition of fundamental rights are part of the
corporate culture of the Carrefour Group.” Carrefour undertakes to monitor jointly
with UNI the proper application of ILO conventions 87-98 and 135:

   the right of employees to join a trade union of their choice,
   the right to collective bargaining,
   the protection of employees and their representatives against any act of
    discrimination tending to infringe upon trade union freedom.

In the agreement, Carrefour has also condemned child labor, slavery and forced
labor, and it intends to ensure that the principles established by the ILO are
respected by its suppliers.

What makes this agreement unique is that UNI Commerce has been given the
formal role to monitor and secure its implementation in all the individual countries
where Carrefour is operating. This global recognition of UNI Commerce has been
respected by the company and many interventions have been constructively dealt
with co-operation between the agreement partners.

The European works council agreement with Carrefour has been re-negotiated,
based on a management – trade Union relationship. Early 2002, UNI Commerce
and Carrefour agreed to prolong this agreement unchanged for another six years.

Three European Works Council meetings have been held and the works council
members have participated in a training course, arranged by Carrefour in co-
operation with UNI Commerce.

There are regular negotiations and consultations between UNI Commerce and
Carrefour, where a variety of issues is being discussed. Some of the recent ones
have included:

   the situation in Spain, where local management co-operates with a yellow
    „union‟, against the UNI Commerce affiliates,
   labour relations problems in Carrefour in South Korea, where UNI Commerce is
    working closely with UNI-Apro, its Korean commerce affiliate and the Carrefour
    management to support a development towards full respect for trade union
    rights, constructive labour relations and a positive social dialogue,
   long-standing labour relations problems in Brazil, where these discussions have
    lead management to take measures to improve the handling of human resource
    issues in the country,
   organising the new hypermarkets in Japan, where UNI Commerce has faciliated
    contacts between Carrefour and its affiliates, with a view of promoting the
    emergence of dialogue and social partnership,
   discussions with Carrefour management about the situation in Indonesia and
    Malaysia, where country management has not implemented the global rights
   corporate social responsibility, including in the context of the SA8000 standard.
    Carrefour has approached these issues seriously and taken important steps,
    particularly concerning the efficient monitoring of its suppliers.


Several meetings have been held between UNI Commerce and Tesco, with the
participation and support of UK affiliate USDAW. There is a common understanding
between the parties that labour relations on the European level should be
developed in an atmosphere of partnership and co-operation. Global issues have
not yet been concretely discussed.

   Through an intervention by UNI Commerce with the top management, a serious
    labour conflict in Poland was avoided in November 2000. Negotiations were
    launched, which UNI Commerce participated actively in. They lead to a social
    partnership agreement, which was signed in July 2001. In the agreement, Tesco
    recognises Solidarnosc and the right of its workers to join this trade union. The
    agreement also established the rules for collective bargaining and defines the
    trade Union structures within the company. USDAW is supporting a major UNI
    Commerce organising project in Tesco, with Solidarnosc.
   In July 2001, UNI Commerce facilitated a meeting between the Tesco
    management and Hungarian affiliate KASz, where the principles of trade union
    representation were agreed and where negotiations on a social partnership
    agreement were launched. The agreement is to be signed during the first half of

                                  Rewe – Billa

A dialogue between UNI Commerce and the Rewe management has been opened,
focusing particularly on the company‟s fast expansion in Central and Eastern
Europe. In these countries Billa, which is the Austrian arm of the company, has had
the management responsibility. There have been widespread violations of workers
rights and the approach to trade unions has been openly negative in most of the
new markets. At the same time, Rewe is known as a correct employer at home in
Germany, with constructive relations to UNI Commerce affiliate ver.di.

   A first UNI Commerce meeting on Rewe-Billa was held in Bratislava in October
    2000, where a close co-operation between the Unions concerned was launched.
   A two-year UNI Commerce project has been started in Croatia, where a full time
    trade union organiser supported by HK Norway focuses on Rewe/Billa and other
    large employers.
   A UNI Commerce meeting on Rewe – Billa will be held in Zagreb, Croatia during
    the first half of 2002. At this meeting, further co-operation between the unions
    with an interest in this company will be planned.
   UNI Commerce will continue its dialogue with the Rewe-Billa management, in
    close co-operation with Ver.di and Austrian affiliate GPA.


Several meetings have been held with the management of Metro AG, where labour
relations issues in Europe have been discussed. Between these meetings, there are
regular informal contacts about various questions.

   Active efforts to help solve the difficult labour relations problems in Turkey have
    continued, but until now they have been inconclusive because of the resistance
    by the country management. The efforts have included a formal agreement on
    respect for trade union rights in Turkey, which has not been respected by the
    company, as well as several meetings with management and union
    representatives, both in Turkey and Germany.
   The ver.di supported UNI Commerce organising project in Metro Poland, with a
    full-time organiser partly funded for two years, has continued with considerable
    success. Two thousand workers in Metro‟s hypermarket chain Real have already
    been organised and a new trade Union structure for them, within Solidarnosc,
    has been consolidated. Several training and other activities have taken place.
   Trade union rights problems in Spain and Romania have been raised with Metro
    and discussions about how to handle them are ongoing.

                                Marks & Spencer

Early 2001, Marks & Spencer announced its withdrawal from continental Europe,
the United States and Kong Kong. In Europe, workers were not informed about the
decision in advance, most heard it from news media. In France, Belgium and Spain,
the countries most concerned, UNI Commerce affiliates launched forceful
campaigns to defend workers‟ rights. On the European level, UNI Commerce took
action in co-operation with these unions as well as with British affiliate USDAW.
This included:

   major efforts to convince the company that a solution should be sought through
   interventions with the European Commission and raising the issue in the
    European social dialogue, and
   publicity and solidarity campaigning in support of the workers.

When it became apparent that management would not negotiate seriously, a major
demonstrationwith 2,000 participants from different European countries was
arranged in London by UNI Commerce, in co-operation with the British Trades
Union Congress TUC, USDAW and other British affiliates and unions.

The joint trade union action brought results, which were far superior to what would
have been the case without the campaign. Workers received guarantees for
retaining their jobs with the new owners of the former Marks & Spencer stores, or a
substantial financial compensation.

The UNI Commerce campaign also contributed to a revision of European Union
legislation. The EU Presidency made a direct reference to the Marks & Spencer case
when announcing a new directive, which improves workers‟ rights to be

informed and consulted. The London demonstration was instrumental in securing
the support of the British government for this directive, which they had previously
been opposed to and thus stopped from being adopted.

The Marks & Spencer issue marked a change for European and global trade union
work in commerce. After the successful campaign, major employers and public
authorities have clearly more respect for UNI Commerce and its affiliates, knowing
now that the commerce trade unions can take to strong measures if needed.


Wal-Mart is by far the largest trader in the world. At the same time, it is a bad
employer, particularly in its home markets in the United States. On a broader level,
the Wal-Mart concept of cutting prices as much as possible, at the expense of
wages, working conditions and quality operations, are a threat for the future
development of commerce.

The close co-operation with US affiliate UFCW and other trade unions present in
Wal-Mart has continued. A report on Wal-Mart developments will be given by UFCW
at the Summit.

   The UNI Commerce web-site follows and reports on major developments in Wal-
    Mart – the Wal-Mart index page is one of the most visited on the whole UNI
   In November 2001, Alan Spaulding of UFCW and Jan Furstenborg of UNI
    Commerce participated in a ver.di conference for Wal-Mart shop stewards, in
    Hamburg, Germany. These contacts have been followed up.

The UNI Commerce website


has been developed into a tool for trade unions and others, who want to follow
employment and labour relations developments in major commerce multinationals.
The information is regularly updated and these UNI Commerce web-pages attracts
much visitors. An organising resource has also been built up, with documents and
stories on trade union rights and descriptions of organising approaches.

                     Corporate social responsibility

Corporate social responsibility is becoming an increasingly important issue in
commerce, with several trade union related dimensions. The ILO Declaration on
Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work sets universal standards for the

behaviour of all enterprises. Politically, socially and ecologically aware and
concerned consumers want to know about the performance of their retailers and
wholesalers, which then affects their purchasing decisions. It is therefore evident
that all larger enterprises are reacting on these issues, some more seriously than
others. UNI Commerce has continued to play an active role in promoting these

   A European social dialogue with EuroCommerce on corporate social
    responsibility issues has been launched. The social partners have agreed to
    react together to the European commission communication on this subject, and
    to follow it up also in other respects.
   In the European social dialogue, UNI Commerce has actively promoted the ILO
    declaration of fundamental principles and rights at work and its follow-up, the
    United Nations Global Compact, the SA 8000 social standard scheme and other
    European and global initiatives to promote workers rights, human rights and
    corporate social responsibility.
   UNI Commerce has stepped up the participation in the Social Accountability
    International (SAI), which administers the SA 8000 standard. This has included
    participation and a presentation at the Second Conference of the SAI in New
    York in December 2000. In discussions with leading multinationals, UNI
    Commerce has tried to encourage them to adhere to the SA 8000 standard.
   UNI Commerce is represented on the SAI Advisory Board and its next meeting
    will be held at UNI Headquarters in Nyon in June 2002. In developing the
    SA8000 standard and its applications, UNI Commerce has gained broad support
    for the view that retailers who require their suppliers to respect the standard
    have to apply it for their own personnel world-wide as well.
   UNI Commerce has raised social accountability issues in various ways in its
    dialogue with leading multinationals.

                         European social dialogue

The active European social dialogue has continued, focusing on employment and
social responsibility issues. During the last year, some major developments have

   The detailed and concrete telework agreement signed with EuroCommerce in
    May 2001 broke new ground for the overall European social dialogue.
   A European social dialogue agreement has been negotiated and signed with
    Euro-Commerce, which addresses the concerns and needs of older workers.
   A major training material for workers engaged in e-commerce functions has
    been produced in co-operation with EuroCommerce, supported by the European
    Commission, within the European social dialogue.
   The European social dialogue for commerce has been extended to new groups,
    such as commercial sales representatives and wholesale trade workers.
   European social dialogue round table meetings with the national social partners
    in commerce have been held in Bratislava, Slovakia and Vilnius, Lithuania.


   The large UNI Commerce solidarity and organisation development project has
    continued successfully in Bosnia and Herzegovina, supported by Nordic and
    other European affiliates.
   A new UNI Commerce organising and trade union development project has been
    launched in Croatia, with the support of HK Norway.
   UNI Commerce has co-operated with Swedish affiliates Handels and HTF in
    supporting the commercial workers‟ union in Lithuania in its organising and
    organisation building efforts.

                   Commercial Sales Representatives

   A questionnaire study on employment and labour relations has been completed.
   A meeting of the commercial sales representatives‟ steering group has been
    held, in London in March 2001.
   A social dialogue meeting for commercial sales representatives was held in
    February 2001, to be followed by an enlarged secretariats‟ meeting in October.
    This is part of the process of defining the issues for the social dialogue with

                              Automobile sales

Car sales employ large numbers of workers world-wide. This is a part of commerce,
where important changes are taking place. In Europe, Japan and other parts of the
world, established structures for selling new cars are being questioned and
changed. New technologies and structural changes in retail trade increase the
pressures for allowing cars to be sold by internet traders and supermarkets. Many
of these changes could lead to a lower product and service quality for customers
and a loss of jobs for large numbers of sales personnel. There are therefore
important interests to defend.

   UNI Commerce has started the preparations for a more structured co-operation
    between affiliates representing car sales personnel. This has been done in close
    contact with the Japanese Automobile Workers Union JAW. Several meetings
    have been held to explore the issues that this work should focus on and a
    questionnaire study on organising in this sector has been completed.


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