Labor News

Sacked Australian Seafarers Speak Out - Maritime Union Of Australia

Current News - Fri, 04/21/2017 - 18:09

Sacked Australian Seafarers Speak Out - Maritime Union Of Australia
Published on Apr 21, 2017
Sacked Australian Seafarers Speak Out - Maritime Union Of Australia

Tags: MUAAustralian Seafarers
Categories: Labor News

Sacked Australian Seafarers Speak Out - Maritime Union Of Australia

Current News - Fri, 04/21/2017 - 18:09

Sacked Australian Seafarers Speak Out - Maritime Union Of Australia
Published on Apr 21, 2017
Sacked Australian Seafarers Speak Out - Maritime Union Of Australia

Tags: MUAAustralian Seafarers
Categories: Labor News

Sacked Australian Seafarers Speak Out - Maritime Union Of Australia

Current News - Fri, 04/21/2017 - 18:09

Sacked Australian Seafarers Speak Out - Maritime Union Of Australia
Published on Apr 21, 2017
Sacked Australian Seafarers Speak Out - Maritime Union Of Australia

Tags: MUAAustralian Seafarers
Categories: Labor News

Canada: On Rana Plaza Anniversary, Transparency Needed from Mark's, Sport Chek News - Fri, 04/21/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: USW
Categories: Labor News

Princess Cruise Line Maritime Engineer Whistleblower in Record ‘Magic Pipe’ Pollution Case Gets $1 Million Payout

Current News - Fri, 04/21/2017 - 11:06

Princess Cruise Line Maritime Engineer Whistleblower in Record ‘Magic Pipe’ Pollution Case Gets $1 Million Payout

April 20, 2017 by gCaptain

Caribbean Princess. File photo: CC BY-SA 3.0
A U.S. District Judge in Miami on Wednesday sentenced Princess Cruise Lines Ltd. (Princess) to pay a $40 million penalty – the largest-ever for crimes involving deliberate vessel pollution – related to illegal dumping overboard of oil contaminated waste and falsification of official logs in order to conceal the discharges.

The judge also ordered that $1 million be awarded to a British engineer, who first reported the illegal discharges to the British Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), which in turn provided the evidence to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Princess Cruise Lines, part of Carnival Corporation, agreed last December to plead guilty to seven felony charges stemming from illegal oil dumping at sea and intentional acts to cover it up.

According to the Justice Dept., the newly hired engineer on the Caribbean Princess reported that a so-called “magic pipe” had been used on Aug. 23, 2013, to illegally discharge oily waste off the coast of England without the use of required pollution prevention equipment. The evidence gathered by the whistleblower, including photographs of the magic pipe, led to an inspection of the cruise ship both in England and then when it reached New York on Sept. 14, 2013. During each of the separate inspections certain crew members concealed the illegal activity by lying to the authorities in accordance with orders they had received from Caribbean Princess engineering officers.

The sentence, imposed by U.S. District Judge Patricia A. Seitz in Miami, also requires that Princess remain on probation for a period of five years during which time all of the related Carnival cruise ship companies trading in the U.S. will be required to implement an environmental compliance plan that includes independent audits by an outside company and oversight by a court appointed monitor. As a result of the government’s investigation, Princess has already taken various corrective actions, including upgrading the oily water separators and oil content monitors on every ship in its fleet and instituting many new policies.

According to papers filed in court, the Caribbean Princess had been making illegal discharges through bypass equipment since 2005, one year after the ship began operations. The August 2013 discharge approximately 23-miles off the coast of England involved approximately 4,227 gallons within the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone. At the same time as the discharge, engineers ran clean seawater through the ship’s monitoring equipment in order to conceal the criminal conduct and create a false digital record for a legitimate discharge.

The case against Princess included illegal practices which were found to have taken place on five Princess ships – Caribbean Princess, Star Princess, Grand Princess, Coral Princess and Golden Princess. One practice was to open a salt water valve when bilge waste was being processed by the oily water separator and oil content monitor. The purpose was to prevent the oil content monitor from going into alarm mode and stopping the overboard discharge. This was done routinely on the Caribbean Princess in 2012 and 2013, the court found. The second practice involved discharges of oily bilge water originating from the overflow of graywater tanks into the machinery space bilges. This waste was pumped back into the graywater system rather than being processed as oily bilge waste, and then pumped overboard anytime the ship was more than four nautical miles from land. As a result, discharges within U.S. waters were likely, and none of the discharges were recorded in the oil record books that are required to be maintained on board the ships.

“These violations of law were serious, longstanding and designed to conceal illegal discharges,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Wood. “The sentence in this case should ensure that these crimes do not take place in the future and should also send a strong message to others that illegally polluting U.S. waters will not be tolerated.”

“Today’s large criminal penalty makes it clear that businesses that operate in our oceans will be held accountable for violating their obligation to safeguard the marine environment,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney Greenberg. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida and our maritime partners are committed to ensuring that all vessel operators adhere to recognized standards in order to protect our open seas and coasts. We will continue to use the U.S. courts to pursue those who circumvent the law for their own personal gain.”

“Without the courageous act of a junior crewmember to alert authorities to these criminal behaviors of deliberately dumping oil at sea, the global environmental damage caused by the Princess fleet could have been much worse,” said Rear Admiral Scott Buschman, Commander of the U.S. Coast Guard Seventh District. “The selflessness of this individual exposed five different ships that embraced a culture of shortcuts and I am pleased at this outcome.”

Ten million of the $40 million criminal penalty imposed by the court is earmarked for community service projects to benefit the maritime environment; $3 million of the community service payments will go to environmental projects in South Florida; $1 million will go for projects to benefit the marine environment in United Kingdom waters. Additionally, $1 million of the criminal penalty will be deposited in the Abandon Seafarer’s Fund, a fund established to provide a mechanism for the U.S. Coast Guard to offer humanitarian relief and support of seafarers who are abandoned in the United States and are witnesses to maritime-related crimes.

As set forth in papers filed in court, Princess admitted to the following:

After suspecting that the authorities had been informed, senior ship engineers dismantled the bypass pipe and instructed crew members to lie.
Following the MCA’s inquiry, the chief engineer held a sham meeting in the engine control room to pretend to look into the allegations while holding up a sign stating: “LA is listening.” The engineers present understood that anything said might be heard by those at the company’s headquarters in Los Angeles, California, because the engine control room contained a recording device intended to monitor conversations in the event of an incident.
A perceived motive for the crimes was financial – the chief engineer that ordered the dumping off the coast of England told subordinate engineers that it cost too much to properly offload the waste in port and that the shore-side superintendent who he reported to would not want to pay the expense.
Graywater tanks overflowed into the bilges on a routine basis and were pumped back into the graywater system and then improperly discharged overboard when they were required to be treated as oil contaminated bilge waste. The overflows took place when internal floats in the graywater collection tanks got stuck due to large amounts of fat, grease and food particles from the galley that drained into the graywater system. Graywater tanks overflowed at least once a month and, at times, as frequently as once per week. Princess had no written procedures or training for how internal gray water spills were supposed to be cleaned up and the problem remained uncorrected for many years.

Tags: health and safetywhistleblowerPrincess Cruise
Categories: Labor News

Somalia: Trade unions call for an end to intimidation and impunity News - Thu, 04/20/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Equal Times
Categories: Labor News

Israel: Histadrut calls public sector strike for next Tuesday News - Wed, 04/19/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Globes
Categories: Labor News

Global: More brands should reveal where their clothes are made News - Wed, 04/19/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Human Rights Watch
Categories: Labor News

USA: Retail Workers Fight to Get a Cut in the Era of Ecommerce News - Wed, 04/19/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Racked
Categories: Labor News

SF Ford’s Chariot bus drivers to weigh joining Teamsters union

Current News - Tue, 04/18/2017 - 13:28

SF Ford’s Chariot bus drivers to weigh joining Teamsters union

By Carolyn SaidApril 17, 2017 Updated: April 17, 2017 4:21pm
Commute-shuttle service Chariot’s 170 San Francisco drivers are considering unionization, following a path laid out by tech company shuttle-bus drivers.

Teamsters Local 665 said a majority of Chariot drivers have signed cards authorizing a vote about union representation. The local filed with the National Labor Relations Board late last week to request an election, which would typically happen within 30 days.

Wages are the biggest issue, said Mark Gleason, secretary-treasurer of the 6,000-member local. “Drivers are telling us anecdotally that pay ranges from $13 an hour, with some lead drivers as high as $21 an hour,” he said. “But full-time, that’s $40,000 (a year) or less, a modest income to pay for shelter and food here where the cost of living is so high.”

San Francisco’s minimum wage is now $13 an hour, but residents have voted to raise it in steps to $15 by 2018.

“These are working-class jobs paying well above the minimum wage,” Chariot CEO Ali Vahabzadeh told The Chronicle in an interview in November, while declining to specify what drivers earn. He said the company has a high retention rate, and works to promote drivers to more-senior positions such as captains, who oversee routes and train new hires. Unlike drivers for ride-hailing services, who work as independent contractors, Chariot shuttle drivers are salaried employees working both full- and part-time.

Chariot’s 150 turquoise vans are a familiar site on San Francisco streets as they ferry thousands of commuters between residential neighborhoods and work centers for about $4 a ride. Ford Motor Co. bought the 2-year-old San Francisco startup in September for an undisclosed amount.

Chariot said it will respond “as appropriate” to the organizing drive.

“Since our inception, Chariot has been committed to delivering competitive wages and benefits, on-the-job training and meaningful career opportunities for our drivers,” it wrote. “Our parent company, Ford Motor Co., has a long history of working together successfully with their represented and non-represented employees around the world and, as part of Ford, we are committed to continuing that tradition.”

One Chariot driver, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, said $13 to $14 an hour is the typical wage. She said the company only last week put portable toilets in the two parking lots for its vehicles. “We still don’t have running water to wash our hands or a break room,” she said.

She hopes for better wages, better working conditions and better health benefits. She described the current health insurance, which only took effect late last year, as “minimal.”

Another driver who also asked for anonymity agreed with those wage estimates. “I don’t think they’ve been fair with the drivers,” he said. “We need a voice with the office.” He agreed that health benefits are lackluster.

Charior confirmed that full-time drivers and “captains” were offered the option to enroll in health benefits by December. It said bathroom facilities were installed soon after a move to a new parking lot.

Chariot is among a range of private commuter services offering alternatives to public transportation. Gleason noted that there’s a huge disparity between public transit wages and those of the private services. Muni drivers make from $21.41 to $33.98 an hour and have benefits including health insurance, paid time off and pensions, according to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

The Teamsters have recently organized shuttle-bus drivers who work for contractors providing service to companies such as Yahoo, Facebook, Salesforce, Apple, Genentech, eBay and Twitter. About 1,000 Local 665 members are in the transportation industry.

“We believe (private transit) will be a growth industry, expanding rapidly,” Gleason said. “We want to partner with companies doing this type of work.”

Last year Bauer’s Intelligent Transportation, which provides shuttle buses to Zynga, Cisco and Electronic Arts, had a run-in with the local that led to it picketing some shuttles and the SFMTA denying the company a new operating permit. That situation ended with Bauer’s drivers joining the union.

The Teamsters want the SFMTA to apply a “labor harmony” provision to Chariot, which would exert pressure on the commuter service to play nice with unions. That provision already applies to “Google buses,” the generic terms for shuttles to various tech employers, requiring bus companies to develop a planfor avoiding interruptions in service from labor disputes.

“SFMTA is in the processing of developing permit programs for these jitney buses,” said Doug Bloch, Teamsters Joint Council 7 political director. “We think it should include a labor harmony requirement.”

Ford plans to expand Chariot both nationally and internationally as part of the carmaker’s push into different ways of moving people around.

Carolyn Said is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: Twitter: @csaid

Tags: IBT 665Chariot
Categories: Labor News

Turkey: TÜMTİS and the case that threatens all trade unions in Turkey News - Mon, 04/17/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Equal Times
Categories: Labor News

Peru: 2,000 Peru Miners Strike for Health Care, Workplace Rights News - Sun, 04/16/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Solidarity Center
Categories: Labor News

Bangladesh: Four years after Rana Plaza, union action prevents a repeat News - Sun, 04/16/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: TUC
Categories: Labor News

Teamsters file to unionize SF Chariot’s jitney drivers

Current News - Fri, 04/14/2017 - 15:25

Teamsters file to unionize SF Chariot’s jitney drivers

A Chariot van is seen on Cyril Magnin near Market Street in San Francisco, Calif. Friday, March 10, 2017. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)
By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez on April 14, 2017 2:13 pm
Jitneys have roamed San Francisco’s streets for a century. But a modern, tech-enabled private bus company — Chariot — may be the first in The City to unionize.

The Teamsters Union filed with the National Labor Relations Board on Thursday to allow Chariot’s some 140 drivers to vote form a union.

“The wages are really not sufficient to live in the Bay Area,” said Mark Gleason, a Teamsters representative. “We’re talking about drivers making in the $13-14 an hour range.”

“That used to be a lot of money to make in the Bay Area,” he said. “But it isn’t anymore.”

Ford Motor Company bought Chariot in September 2016 for $65 million, according to a report from Business Insider. That relationship with Chariot signaled to the Teamsters that unionization may be welcome.

“We have been contacted by Teamsters Local #665 and will respond as appropriate.,” Chariot wrote in a statement. “Since our inception, Chariot has been committed to delivering competitive wages and benefits, on-the-job training and meaningful career opportunities for our drivers.”

Chariot noted Ford has “represented and non-represented” employees around the world.

“Ford Motor Company has a strong history of labor relations,” said Doug Bloch, political director of the Teamsters Joint Council 7, a body of the teamsters who represent 100,000 workers in Northern California, Nevada and the Central Valley.

The Teamsters also organized many commuter shuttle drivers, who ferry tech workers to Silicon Valley from San Francisco.

Chariot is also the subject of new regulations being crafted by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which does not have a modern set of laws to govern private bus services. Questions remain, for instance, about Chariot’s ability to serve passengers with disabilities, or whether it can legally use Muni bus stops.

As first reported by the San Francisco Examiner, that proposed regulatory structure was announced only last month and is still in development.

The SFMTA was not immediately available for comment. The Teamsters, however, have worked with SFMTA previously on building labor-relations into the regulations for commuter shuttles.

Based on that past relationship, Bloch said, “We’re getting strong support from MTA and City Hall on labor harmony” being built into jitney regulations.

The Teamsters await an election date from the NLRB, which Gleason said may be held as early as two to three weeks based on past decisions of the labor board.

As to why the Teamsters are bringing yet another tech company into the union fold, Gleason said it simply makes sense.

“I know people in the Bay Area have various opinions about the tech buses, but the reality is the transit model Chariot has and tech buses, they’re the future,” Gleason said.

“We’re recognizing where that work is going.”

Tags: teamstersDrivers
Categories: Labor News

SA Numsa rejects offer in bus strike

Current News - Fri, 04/14/2017 - 11:24

SA Numsa rejects offer in bus strike
2017-04-12 15:23
Sisa Canca, News24


What To Read Next
Johannesburg - Numsa rejected an offer by long-distance bus company Autopax on Wednesday afternoon, partly to avoid parallel negotiations outside the bargaining council.

"Autopax was telling us that, so far, they have sourced some funds somewhere else. We didn't even want to entertain the issue of the money that they say they have. We rejected everything they were telling us. We believe that this discussion should take place at the right structures, not here," said Norman Malume, Numsa's regional infrastructure co-ordinator.

Earlier on Wednesday, bus drivers and mechanics gathered at various bus depots, waiting to be addressed on the way forward after unions announced a nationwide strike.

LIVE: Nationwide bus strike leaves commuters stranded

At Putco's Main Reef depot, about 40 employees protested peacefully outside the depot. Malume came to address them about the scheduled meetings and asked them to protest peacefully.

The group dispersed around 11:00, promising to return on Thursday morning.

Malume said: "Being in a parallel negotiation is selling the country. Employers know the structures where they need to go and settle to. If they are willing to settle, then they should influence other employers of their feeling," said Malume.

He said the employers were trying to convince the union that if workers went back to work this afternoon, they would be willing to offer something better

"That something better is not needed by only Autopax workers, it is for every bus driver who is on strike now," Malume.

Malume said Autopax management had requested a meeting with them earlier on Wednesday in Coronation, west of Johannesburg.

An urgent meeting at the bargaining council was scheduled for 14:30.

SA Numsa to continue bus strike
SOUTH AFRICAFriday 14 April 2017 - 3:58pm
Kempton Park, Ekurhuleni, 14 April 2017 - Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant addresses the media on the bus deal and union Numsa on Friday morning. Video: eNCA

JOHANNESBURG - Numsa General Secretary Irvin Jim says he sympathises with holiday travellers who've been inconvenienced by the bus strike.

But he says workers have rights too.

The union has rejected a 9 percent increase wage deal signed by three organisationsrepresenting 75 percent of bus transport workers.

READ: Bus strike 'effectively over' as three major unions accept offer

In a media briefing on Friday, Jim said, "Whilst we sympathize with the public which has been a victim of the strike we take a view that employers must take full responsibility for having inconvenienced our people."

"And we stand by our people but at the same time we know that our people know that workers’ rights are human rights."

Numsa, which is leading the strike action, had issued a statement on Friday morning saying no deal had been struck with any of the affected employers.

The message was different on the ground near Rustenburg in the North West, where Thari buses were seen on the road in Lethabong. Also, at Park Station in Johannesburg, Autopax company buses were selling tickets and loading long-distance travellers eager to reach their destination for the Easter holiday.

READ: Bus strike to hurt ZCC Moria pilgrimage

The industrial action, which affected commuter bus services, especially long distance services, began on Wednesday. There were long queues at bus stations as commuters, in possession of paid bus tickets, were left stranded.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) and the Transport and Services Workers Union (Taswu) have rejected the 9 percent wage deal.

The union is expected to inform the public Saturday if it will stop the mass action.

NUMSA Statement on the SA bus strike
14 April, 2016
NUMSA Statement on the bus strike

NUMSA wants to confirm that we met with the Labour minister this morning, her intention was to end the current strike. We learnt this morning that three trade unions, SATAWU, TAWUSA and TOWU went and unilaterally signed the agreement with the employer, without consulting NUMSA.
NUMSA is dismayed by such tactics and rejects the behavior of the bargaining council secretary, who issued a memo informing employers that the strike is over because three unions have signed. NUMSA wants to be on record that the secretary of the bargaining council is mischievous as he has no right to speak on behalf of NUMSA and its members.
We want to put the record straight that NUMSA is a worker controlled union. This strike was sanctioned by workers as a result of conservative stubborn employers, who refused the following demands:
1. The Employers refuse to pay workers double on public holidays, and time and half on Sunday. In the meeting with the Minister of labour, Ms Mildred Oliphant this morning we called on her department to move swiftly and force all these bus companies to comply with the provision of the basic condition of employment, for workers to be paid double on public holidays, and time and the half on Sunday. This is straight forward issue of compliance.
2. This employers subject workers to 18 hour shifts on long distance journeys from Johannesburg to Cape Town and only pay them for 8 hours. The bus is driven by two drivers, and yet they don’t get paid for all those hours. If they get injured in a bus they don’t regard that as an injury on duty

3. Numsa members demanded a double digit increase which this conservative employers have rejected. These are the reasons why workers went on strike as the last resort. Employers were given notice for a strike action for a period of 30 days and another 48 hours before resuming the strike.
These employers remain arrogant. They did nothing and they refused to find solutions, that’s why NUMSA rejects any cheap blackmail that we are not sensitive to this very important period of the Easter holiday. Employers should take full responsibility for their irresponsible conduct which inconvenienced our people.
Our people deserve to have safe public transport to take them home, driven by bus drivers who are paid a living wage under safe conditions for the wellbeing of the South African public. On this, the government too should take full responsibility. It should and must ensure that there is a safe public transport and it has failed to do so that’s why workers are forced to fight for themselves.
According to NUMSA the strike continues. We reject the cheap propaganda of the secretary of the bargaining council who because Satawu, Tawusa, and Towu signed this agreement, decided that the strike was over. For our members, as NUMSA, the strike continues.
However in light of these unions having signed, as NUMSA we are worker controlled. We will be addressing general meetings all over the country tomorrow where workers will be allowed to gather, to reflect on this development. Workers must give NUMSA a mandate on whether to continue with the strike or to suspend the strike. Tomorrow after we have consulted our members we shall inform the public and the media
AS NUMSA, we extremely feel for our people, and we have also who been extremely inconvenience by this grossly anarchical behavior of the employers in this sector. We doing our best to find the quickest resolution of this strike and in the best interest of our members.
As we all know workers’ rights are human rights too we were left to take this strike in pain because we know that the victims will be our people. As the NUMSA leadership and as the union we are in solidarity with our people and we share their suffering but we were placed between a rock and hard place by the greed of the bosses.
We salute the courage of our members who gave up so much in order to do the right thing. Who amongst us would willingly give up their salary, give up on paying daily expenses, and sacrifice their family’s security so that others may have a better life? This is what workers do every single day, when they go on strike. They make major sacrifices for the benefit of others. They are the true heroes of the struggle.

Compiled by Irvin Jim
Numsa General Secretary

Tags: SA NUMSA StrikeBus Drivers Strike
Categories: Labor News

SA South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) Bus strikes: Unions ‘wait and see’ as minister set to intervene

Current News - Thu, 04/13/2017 - 14:05

SA South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) Bus strikes: Unions ‘wait and see’ as minister set to intervene


Passengers remained stranded on Thursday and feared for their Easter weekend plans as the strike in the bus sector entered a second day. There’s hope, however, with the intervention of Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant. By GREG NICOLSON & BHEKI C SIMELANE

A security guard from Advanced Detachment Security watched the impact of the bus strike at Johannesburg’s Park Station. “Most people are coming to the ticket offices for refunds ... It's a little chaotic,” said the officer, who did not want to be named, on Thursday.

The strike affecting 18 bus companies moved into its second day with unions and employer associations still at loggerheads. According to Stats SA, over 18 percent of households that use public transport rely on buses, and the strike has caused confusion and chaos ahead of the Easter weekend. Putco has cancelled all 682 buses booked for the Zion Christian Church’s Moira pilgrimage. Queues of passengers have been lining up for refunds at long-distance bus companies like Greyhound and Autopax, which runs Translux and City to City. As passengers look for alternatives, such as taxis, there is also an increased safety risk.

“That’s a difficult one,” said Zanele Sabela, South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) spokesperson, on the way forward to resolve the strike. “We’re still playing a wait and see game.”

The five unions on strike have declined the latest offer from employer associations, the Commuter Bus Employers Association (Cobea) and SA Bus Employers Association (Sabea), leaving the future of negotiations uncertain. They have been in discussions since January with the South African Road Passenger Bargaining Council, and later through the Commission for Conciliation, Arbitration and Mediation (CCMA). The differences in proposed pay increases are now slim, with unions lowering their demand to 10 percent and employers offering nine percent, but the dispute over working conditions is likely to delay a resolution.

The strike has caused distress for commuters. “I'm going to Cape Town,” said Malawian Gift Gazembe, 23, who was due to leave Joburg on Thursday. “I was supposed to take a 1PM bus. Unfortunately I have just confirmed that it's already full. They said it’s the only bus to Cape Town. I don't know what to do now. I think I'll go and see if I can catch a lift from trucks going that way”.

The labour minister might negotiate a way forward in her meeting with stakeholders at 10am on Friday. Oliphant’s spokesperson, Ishmael Mnisi said the department does not usually intervene in labour disputes but to avoid “prolonged inconvenience” needs to get parties around the table urgently.

Unions – Satawu, National Union of Metalworkers SA (Numsa), Transport and Services Workers’ Union (Taswu), Transport and Allied Workers Union of SA (Tawusa), and Transport and Omnibus Workers Union (Towu) – say they dropped demands from 30 percent to 12 percent in recent months, but employers haven’t come to the party. Some of the companies involved are Putco, Golden Arrow, Autopax, Rea Vaya, Great Northern Transport, Translux and Greyhound.

On Wednesday, Cobea and Sobea offered a 9 percent increase, overtime at 1.5 times the normal rate after a 16 hour shift, and allowance increases for night shift of 10 percent, and a 10 percent increase on the cross-border allowance. “As Numsa we reject this offer with the contempt it deserves. The fact that Employers are not willing to offer a double digit increase, and are unwilling to pay the co-driver for his or her services when they are not driving is simply a disgrace,” said Numsa’s acting spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi.

Numsa said the industry treats workers like “slave labour” and “animals” and Satawu said the offer was rejected because employers “would not commit to improving working conditions in the industry”. The “spread over” and “double driver” systems are painful points for unions hoping to change the industry.

“Spread over” is when bus drivers might have a three hour morning shift to cover the peak hours, break for eight hours, and then have an hour afternoon shift. Unions want the total time, from the start of a working day to end, to reduce from 16 to 12 hours (the bargaining agreement appears to say 14 hours), claiming the larger gap in between a daily shift means workers have to spend more time travelling between home and work, reducing family time and time for rest. The “double driver” issue relates to long-haul trips, when multiple drivers must take turns on the wheel. Unions believe each should be paid for their total time on the road while employers only want to pay them for the time they spend at the wheel. The issue is currently in court.

Daily Maverick wasn’t able to reach employer associations on Thursday, but Cobea and Sabea spokesperson Meko Nadiea has been quoted as saying they cannot afford double-digit demands. “We can’t make sense of it,” he said on demands to improve conditions. “They have the best working conditions.”

Zweli Mugengo works as a driver for Golden Arrow in Cape Town. He said he makes R11,000 a month, which is above the reported average for the industry, but, he said, with a family of six he needs to fight for a decent raise. The issue of “spread over” isn’t a problem for him, but he knows other drivers who have to travel between home and work, within a working day, and don’t get time to rest.

“We are workers at Golden Arrow, it affects us very personally,” he said on the impact of the “no work, no pay” strike on passengers. Mugengo said they should blame managers, who have gotten wealthy off communities.

Luke Langer, 25, from Pietermaritzburg wasn’t sure whether his bus would arrive at Park Station on Thursday. “We bought tickets last week Saturday, and on Tuesday they sent us SMSes stating that there might be delays. They have just told me that our bus has been delayed but is on its way. I am worried as I don't know what we will do if the bus does not turn up because we can't go back to Durban, it's far. We have a cousin here in Johannesburg but we did not plan around that.”

The taxi industry will likely benefit from the strike, but there are concerns it could be overburdened and safety could be compromised. Chairperson of the portfolio committee on transport, Dikeledi Magadzi said passengers have been burdened “in proportions not witnessed before”. “The taxi industry, long and short-distance, will be under a lot of pressure. Hence drivers should exercise caution and at all times stick to the rules of no overloading and no speeding,” she said.

Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said: “This strike will put a strain on the transport system during this busy weekend and if not resolved, we are likely to see an increase in road fatalities.” DM

Photo: A Translux bus at the George Station. Photo: Bob Adams (flickr)

Tags: SA South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu)
Categories: Labor News

BART Bosses Role In Deaths Of Scabs On The Tracks In 2013 Strike

Current News - Thu, 04/13/2017 - 13:43

BART Bosses Role In Deaths Of Scabs On The Tracks In 2013 Strike
Video of 2013 Fatal BART Accident Reveals Safety Lapses: Regulators
By Jaxon Van Derbeken
State regulators want to fine the transit agency for alleged safety lapses in the deaths of two track workers hit by a train during a strike in 2013. NBC Bay Area's Investigative Unit obtained BART’s own surveillance video of the accident that shows how the rookie operator tried but failed to sound the horn before hitting the workers. Jaxon Van Der... Read more

(Published Thursday, April 13, 2017)
BART’s in-cab surveillance video of the 2013 accident that left two track workers dead shows that the inexperienced operator was left largely unattended by his trainer who was preoccupied in the passenger compartment, chatting about the World Series part of the time.

NBC Bay Area obtained the video of the Oct. 19, 2013 accident that occurred on the first day that the rookie driver had been operating a train on the main system.

The state Public Utilities Commission is relying on the video as it presses to fine BART $600,000. Lawyers for the transit agency have filed a motion to seal the video and keep it from being released to the public, citing privacy grounds.

A key element in the case is the extent to which the driver had been prepared to operate the train that day. He had spent less than four weeks in the classroom and practicing on a makeshift simulator – a train car up on blocks.

He was part of BART’s plan to provide backup service should a second strike hit the system in a matter of months.

NBC Bay Area has obtained a Sept. 30, 2013 memo from a top BART official to state rail regulator Don Filippi outlining “reduced” training for managers needed to fill in for striking workers.

Under the details of that plan, which BART’S manager Greg Leong wanted Filippi to “remain confidential,” normal training time of 14-weeks would be cut substantially.

BART now says the program involved four weeks of classroom instruction followed by what Leong said would be three weeks of “on-the-job” training.

The operator of the train that day was among the group of inexperienced managers Leong said would be tasked with moving around managers and empty trains to allow more experienced managers to operate passenger service.

The video shows the trainee was alone in the cab of Train No. 963 during the 25 minute period leading up to the accident. His trainer, transportation manager Paul Liston, is in the passenger compartment, instead of being at the operator’s side as required by BART rules.

The tape shows the trainee calls upon Liston for help repeatedly.

“I don't know if I'm doing it wrong or not,” the trainee tells Liston at one point. “Yeah, okay, hold on one second,” Liston replies.

At another point, Liston chides the trainee about needing so much help.

“How many more times are you going to make me get up…. G**dammit?”

Records reviewed by NBC Bay Area indicate Liston was texting and talking on his phone – both violations of BART’s policy. In the video, we hear him chat with colleagues about the upcoming World Series.

“Did the dodgers get beat last night?” Liston asks an unknown BART employee. “Yeah, nine to zero.”

“Oh my goodness. Oh my goodness. So it’s St. Louis and then they’re waiting, right?”

Meanwhile, BART engineer Christopher Sheppard and consultant Laurence Daniels were checking on a dip in the rail north of the Walnut Creek station. Just after 1 p.m., BART operations center had issued an alert over the radio about the two men working there.

The men had ventured onto the tracks under BART’s policy known as simple approval. Under that rule, they were charged with gauging the risk they faced and whether they had 15 seconds to escape an oncoming train.

But they failed to realize they were behind a long curve that would keep them from seeing an oncoming train until it was too late. They also didn’t have the required lookout.

At 1:30 p.m., BART was supposed to issue another radio alert for the men, but it never came – another violation of BART policy.

The video shows that at 1:44 p.m., the trainee operator heads into the blind curve. He later told federal accident investigators that he had spotted the men up ahead. Not sure what they are doing, he went into the bend at full speed of 68 mph.

The video shows that five seconds before impact, the trainee sees the workers reemerge as he rounds the curve. He presses a button that he later told federal investigators he believed was the horn. The video indicates he actually pressed the hold door/close button, directly above the horn.

He then hits the brakes, but it’s too late to avoid hitting the men, who investigators believe had their backs turned until the final second. Just before the accident, he jumps forward in the cab and shouts “Move!” repeatedly.

In BART’s final report – issued in January of this year – the chief safety officer concludes that because of the curve, the deaths were “unavoidable.”

The report cites the “simple approval” policy in effect at the time, which made workers “individually responsible for providing their own protection…” The report concluded: “Adherence to the rules would have prevented the accident.”

“They are blaming the victims for this,” says Sen. Jerry Hill, who has long been a vocal safety advocate in the legislature. “I think it’s shameful ... it really is.”

The state agency charged with overseeing public rail systems, the Public Utilities Commission, blames BART for having a “poor and inadequate” safety culture. Regulators contend BART could, and should, have banned workers from the blind curve, or at least made trains slow for them automatically. Regulators say the agency should be fined $600,000 for a string of violations, including its reliance on the “simple approval” protocol.

After the accident, BART did abandon its policy of having workers largely responsible for their own safety and agreed to regulators’ demands that it tighten lookout rules, improve communications and stop trains anytime workers up ahead come within six feet of the rail.

Despite making those changes, BART told us the agency has had a “robust” safety record all along. “The violations alleged by the CPUC concern an individual employee’s violation of a BART rule, not a gap in BART’s safety rules or a general failure by BART to enforce those rules,” the agency said in a statement.

Although BART now says that he broke several rules, the trainer – assistant chief transportation officer Paul Liston – retired last year without discipline. Neither Liston nor the trainee responded to requests for comment.

Meanwhile, regulators’ effort to sanction BART has suffered a blow. The judge in charge of the case recently sided with BART’s lawyers and dismissed more than a dozen charges on due process grounds. But the judge has yet to rule on whether to impose the $600,000 penalty sought by regulators.

BART contends the state agency has no legal authority to fine BART for violating its own rules.

But Hill says BART needs to be held accountable for the lapses he saw in the video. “No one was properly trained, no one was doing the job they were supposed to do for safety," he said.

Source: Video of 2013 Fatal BART Accident Reveals Safety Lapses: Regulators | NBC Bay Area
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