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Category Archives: Abolition Of Work

Belgium + Comments from other countries – Mental health at work: how healthy is the law? – Lexology

Posted: October 24, 2019 at 10:56 am

ByIngerVerh Firm:Claeys & Engels

How doesBelgian law safeguard mental health in the workplace? This article describes the law and provides some guidance for employers.

The issue of mental health in the workplace

According to the Special Eurobarometer produced by the European Commission, almost one in ten Europeans struggles with mental health issues. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that the costs related to mental health problems for the European economy can go up to USD 140 billion per year.

According to the Belgian HR provider Securexs yearly analysis, the number of employees being absent in Belgium has significantly and systematically increased every year starting from 2001. During 2018, out of 100 employees, seven were sick on an average workday. It is mainly long-term sickness (i.e. illness or incapacity lasting more than one year) that has lead to this worrying evolution. This increasing problem of long-term sickness is caused by the aging of the Belgian workforce due to the abolition of early pension schemes and burnout and mental health problems.

Despite these figures, it has taken a long time for mental health at work to get the attention it deserves. Not so however in Belgian law.

The Act on the Wellbeing of Employees in the Workplace

As early as 2002, the Belgian legislator acknowledged that the wellbeing of employees is not just derived from physical health and safety measures and introduced the concept of psychosocial wellbeing in the so-called Act on the Wellbeing of Employees in the Workplace. A chapter was included in this act that focussed on three forms of so-called psychosocial risks: violence, harassment and sexual harassment at work.

Since then employers have been obliged to implement measures to prevent violence, harassment and sexual harassment occurring in the workplace. Every employer must appoint a special prevention counsellor, specialised in psychosocial issues in the workplace and implement a global (five-year) and yearly action plan including internal reporting procedures. As the special prevention counsellor is usually an external expert, many companies will also appoint an internal person of trust.

Victims of violence, harassment or sexual harassment can also bring a complaint before the employment court to obtain an injunction to stop the unacceptable behaviour or claim damages from the harasser and/or the employer who did not take sufficiently effective measures.

Wider-ranging obligations for employers

In 2014, the scope of the Act on Wellbeing was extended and employers now have to ban any type of psychosocial burden at work.

This means prevention plans should also focus on measures to improve mental health at work and the internal reporting procedures and legal remedies are also accessible for employees suffering from health problems following stress or burnout.

Mental health issues and the courts

In view of the increasing number of employees with mental health problems, it was anticipated that this legislative change would lead to an increase in court cases. But this is not the case: after five years the number of cases on psychosocial risks at work is still rather limited and mainly deal with harassment at work.

However, we have seen an increase in cases on discrimination. Belgian law not only protects against discrimination based on disability but also on the employees health circumstances. Under general employment law, an employee can be validly dismissed during a period of sickness or health problems. Employees will, however, increasingly go to court to claim damages based on discrimination or for a manifestly unreasonable dismissal when they are dismissed during a period of sickness or during a period of reinstatement after sickness. Although Belgian courts are still quite reluctant to grant damages on these grounds, employers should be careful. In general, Belgian courts will accept that employers can have valid reasons to dismiss an employee who suffers from mental health problems, such as the need to deal with organisational problems resulting from the absence or the need to replace an employee who is not motivated and not performing well. However, they should be able to provide clear evidence of the justification.

There is no case law yet on the question of whether a long-term mental problem such as burnout could qualify as a disability, leading to an even stronger protection for employees. However we expect this to follow soon.

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They Could Learn Something From Pelosi – Lynchburg News and Advance

Posted: at 10:56 am

President Trumps best-laid plans sometimes turn out to be little more than slogans.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi memorably called his bluff in a meeting between Trump and congressional leaders on the Syria situation.

The House had just voted, 354-60, on a rare and overwhelming bipartisan rebuke of the presidents announced withdrawal of U.S. troops. That action opened a door for Turkey to attack Syrian Kurds who have been fighting the Islamic State with American support.

Like earlier meetings between Trump and congressional leaders, this one turned contentious, according to media reports. At one point, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer intervened in an argument between Trump and Pelosi, a California Democrat, to ask the president, Is your plan to rely on the Syrians and the Turks?

To which Trump replied, Our plan is to keep the American people safe.

Thats not a plan, Pelosi said. Thats a goal.

Bingo. Thank you, Madam Speaker. My biggest complaint about Trump since he first entered the 2016 race was his wealth of wishes with no visible path to achieve them.

That trickery, or fakery, began with his slogan, Make America Great Again. Thats an easy goal to achieve if you never reveal what you mean by great. Its hard to hold people accountable if they avoid being specific about their plans. Now Trump has updated his slogan to Keep America Great for his reelection campaign, while Im still wondering what he meant the first time.

But thats just me. Before Trump defenders warm up their word processors to tell me how great they feel these days, despite the fast-moving impeachment inquiry haunting the presidents plans, I hasten to add that being long on goals but short on plans is not limited to any one party.

A striking example showed itself at the Democratic presidential debate in Ohio the night before the White House meeting. Former Vice President Joe Biden was holding on to his lead. But breathing down his neck was Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has made a campaign slogan of Ive got a plan for that.

As her rivals put that slogan to the test, a dilemma soon became apparent. Warren has been catching up to Biden by adopting more aggressively progressive positions. But moving too far left to impress Democratic primary voters could cost her support from the moderate swing voters who ultimately have decided close elections.

Perhaps it was with that in mind that Warren seemed to be inching toward the middle. For example, instead of promising to confiscate assault-style rifles like former Rep. Beto ORourke of Texas does, she supported more achievable gun laws.

But on the big issue of Medicare for All, she stuck with her earlier endorsement of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders call for the abolition of all private insurance for basic health care.

She also ruled out the possibility of pivoting to a voluntary plan that would allow us consumers to choose for ourselves whether we want to move to government insurance or keep our private insurance.

All of which makes me wonder whether Democrats, particularly on the progressive wing, learned nothing from the fights President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats struggled through in order to get the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, passed or to get its website to work.

In April, Sanders reintroduced his proposed Medicare for All Act for a single-payer system to replace all current public and private coverage, which, according to an Urban Institute study of his original 2016 campaign proposal, would ultimately raise federal expenditures by about $3 trillion a year. Most Americans would save money in the long run, but it would raise income taxes on most in the short run.

No wonder politicians are so reluctant to even bring up the details of how such grand plans are to be financed. Trump, by contrast, promised as a candidate to repeal and replace Obamacare with something that will be cheaper and give better coverage. Were still waiting for that to happen.

Watching how effectively Pelosi has flummoxed the homework-averse Trump with her interest in such details makes me wish she was on that candidate debate stage. Thats not likely to happen, but those who are can learn a lot from her insistence not just on a lofty goals but also on practical ways to achieve them.

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Should We Abolish All Prisons? – Human Fallenness, the Role of Government, and the Myth of Utopia –

Posted: at 10:56 am

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez successfully grabbed another headline last week by tweeting that Americans should have a real conversation about abolishing prisons. Though she did later walk back this bone-toss to her far-left supporters, the prison abolition movement isnt as niche as youd think.

At their annual meeting this year, theDemocratic Socialists of America passed a resolutionto start a working group on the topic. In April,the ACLU told the New York Timesit wants to defund the prison system.

The idea behind this radical proposal is this: If we could just get our systems right our healthcare system, our education system, our welfare system we wouldntneedany prisons. If everyone just had proper healthcare, great teachers, and all the money they could want or need, no one would commit any crimes.

Its a bit like suggesting we should abolish doctors; because if all had equal access to leafy greens and the flu shot, no one would ever get sick.

Obviously, part of the prison abolition movements strategy is to shock and turn heads toward these other issues. But such a proposal is also a particularly obtuse expression of Utopianism.

Chuck Colson defined Utopianism as the myth that human nature can be perfected by government. Utopianism has at least two core flaws: First, it completely misunderstands the human condition. Because human beings are corrupted by sin, we gravitate toward greed, selfishness, and pride without the redirection of the Holy Spirit. In fact, we do this without help of any kind our sin is not societys fault or caused by poverty. You cant educate us out of our sinful natures.

In fact, even the most devoted prison abolitionists cant make it through a single morning without falling short of their own standards, much less Gods standards. And neither can we.

Todays prison abolitionists fail to acknowledge the scores of men and women who had every conceivable privilege and went on to commit crimes anyway. Wealthy Wall Streeters commit white-collar crimes. Americas Ivy League campuses arguably the veryseatsof privilege are plagued by sexual assault. Even some perpetrators of mass shootings came from stable, affluent families.

A second problem with Utopianism is that any attempt to create this fantasy world where no one commits a crime means advocating for government control on an unprecedented scale. Any government with that much power would quickly end any illusion of utopia. After all, governments are still made up of fallen human beings.

Every utopian project that has been tried so far has failed. Many were led by characters like Stalin and Mao and Castro international revolutionaries who turned almost cartoonishly fast from men of the people into tyrants. History teaches it best: Presuming to create a perfect system will ultimately degrade into power grabs and human misery.

Because of the accurate way the Bible describes the human condition, we can expect prisons to continue as a necessary part of society until Christ makes all things new. In Matthew 25, Jesus instructs his followers tovisitthose in prison. An effective prison system will keep people safe, communicate the consequences of wrong-doing to the larger culture, and work to return the imprisoned to our community with better means and accountability by which to govern their own fallen impulses.

And let me add this: Because we believe the incarcerated are human beings made in the image of God and that restoration is possible, the Colson Center stands with Prison Fellowship and others who support criminal justice reforms that address the very real problems of over-incarceration and sentencing disparity.

But, the idea of abolishing prison is an unrealistic, and yet very real, distraction from the necessary conversations we need to be having about how to handle crime in our communities. Not to mention, its a poster child of Utopianism.

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BreakPointis a program of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. BreakPoint commentaries offer incisive content people can't find anywhere else; content that cuts through the fog of relativism and the news cycle with truth and compassion. Founded by Chuck Colson (1931 2012) in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends. Today, you can get it in written and a variety of audio formats: on the web, the radio, or your favorite podcast app on the go.

John Stonestreetis President of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and radio host ofBreakPoint,a daily national radio program providing thought-provoking commentaries on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN),and is the co-author ofMaking Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview.

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The pundit and the hobo – The Outline

Posted: at 10:56 am

There are plenty of familiar metaphors for politics a swamp, a circus, a schoolyard but John Kass, an opinion columnist at the Chicago Tribune, has come up with a new one. In a recent column, Kass describes the Democratic party as an organization of singing derelicts in an edible fantasy land. He writes that hearing Democratic presidential candidates discuss their platforms is like staring from a distance at the Big Rock Candy Mountain.

The Big Rock Candy Mountain is a well-known and well-loved folk song, written at the turn of the 20th century by songwriter and poet Harry Haywire McClintock and sung from the point of view of a wandering hobo. The hobo imagines a world less harsh than our own, where instead of sleeping on the street and riding the rail he rests in an idyllic utopia. Kass quotes part of the first verse, which goes:

Kass calls this an encapsulation of Democratic economic policy, a program he sees as being written for modern Americans whove been trained to despise the freedom offered by capitalism, while yearning for free stuff promised by the federal masters. But our intrepid pundit is not so easily lured in. I concentrated on what the candidates were saying, Kass writes, and it completely harshed my mellow. The Big Rock Candy Mountain is just a fantasy.

In the technical sense, this is true. But even a fantasy comes from somewhere. In the case of the Big Rock Candy Mountain, it came McClintock, a man who did indeed live as a hobo and also wrote the song Hallelujah, Im a Bum! But there was more to McClintocks story. He was a union organizer who worked on oil fields in West Texas, and a lifelong member of the Industrial Workers of the World, a labor union founded at the turn of the century. It was not a politically neutral organization, and its revolutionary orientation was summarized in its constitution, which called for abolition of the wage system. Setting out to become One Big Union, the IWW included miners, textile workers, and farmworkers alike. Its founders included Eugene V. Debs and Mother Jones. Members were colloquially referred to as Wobblies, a fitting sign of irreverence and humor that characterized the organizations rhetoric.

One of the IWWs greatest legacies is its songs, of which The Big Rock Candy Mountain is an unofficial example. The core canon, meant to be sung on shop floors during strikes and streets during marches, is collected in a pamphlet called The Little Red Songbook, first published in 1909. Its influence is wide and varied a young Leonard Cohen, at Jewish community camp, learned to write songs from studying its contents, and its best-known song, Solidarity Forever, remains the anthem of the American labor movement. Those unfamiliar with this body of work should immediately seek out Utah Phillipss recording of IWW songs, We Have Fed You All for A Thousand Years.

For the songs to function effectively for a multiethnic, multilingual labor movement, they had to be easy to understand and sing. So they were plagiarized from more familiar melodies; as Phillips puts it, the wobblies liked to steal the hymn tunes because they were pretty, and change the words so they made more sense. But they were more than propaganda; many of them, like Bread and Roses or McClintocks work, deal with less straightforward questions of what makes a good life.

Many of the most famous songs in the collection were written by Joe Hill, a Swedish immigrant and itinerant worker who was executed in 1915 for the murder of a policeman. He was almost certainly falsely accused, and the trial was so corrupt that even President Woodrow Wilson opposed his verdict. One of Hills songs, The Preacher and the Slave, is the origin of the expression, pie in the sky. The song was first performed by McClintock and some co-conspirators, under circumstances Utah Phillips describes on record:

Pie in the sky has become an expression often used to malign political programs that seek to provide for the working class and the poor; the kind of politics John Kass dismisses as a fantasy. But the song itself describes quite the opposite. Joe Hill mocked the promise of religion, that a life of poverty would lead to redemption and comfort in heaven after death. Work and pray, live on hay; you'll get pie in the sky when you die, says the preacher, all the while collecting money from working people. But the song ends with the workers of the world uniting. Rebuilding society, they enlist the grifting preachers to serve the workers instead, cooking and chopping wood. As IWW founding member Big Bill Haywood put it, nothings too good for the working class. Perhaps John Kass should grab a pot and pan.

Shuja Haider is a writer-at-large at The Outline.

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The evolving role of the landlord – Prospect

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The housing market poses big policy challenges for every government and chief among them is the private rental sector. Ensuring adequate supply at affordable rates, in a way which works for both the landlord and the tenant is no small feat; there are competing interests to weigh and innumerable adverse consequences to consider. Tenants understandably demand greater security and affordability, while landlords despair over anti-social renters and rent arrears, and the risk to their portfolio. Governments of all stripes have grappled with the difficulties and proposed their own fixes.

To discuss the way forward Prospect and the National Landlords Association (NLA) convened a panel at Conservative Party conference in Manchester on 30th September. In attendance were Chris Norris, Director of Policy and Practice at the NLA; John Fuller, leader of south Norfolk council and deputy leader of the Conservative Party in local government; Greg Beales, Campaign Director at Shelter; and Dawn Foster, a freelance journalist with a specialism in housing. The panel was chaired by Prospects Deputy Editor Steve Bloomfield.

The background to the discussion was a significant change in regulation published earlier in the year: the abolition of no-fault evictions as laid out in Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988. This currently allows landlords to seek eviction of renters on assured shorthold tenancies with two months notice, after the expiry of an initial fixed term (typically six to 12 months). This is at the landlords discretion and legal whether the tenant has done anything wrong or not, in contrast with Section 8 notices which require proof of a ground for possession, such as rent arrears and anti-social behaviour.

Explaining what recent changes mean for the sector, Norris kicked off the conversation, arguing that new uncertainties are causing real problems for Britains 2m landlords. Owing not just to uncertainty around Section 21 but other changes to things like mortgage relief and capital gains tax, they cant plan their futures, they cant plan their investments, they often cant plan their retirements. In his view this isnt just bad for the landlord but for everybody: landlords cant offer the range of households the homes that theyve been asked to offer, meaning that youve got an industry that has money to invest, that wants to provide something and doesnt feel able. Landlords need to have an exit mechanism if things go wrong or [their] plans change. Section 21 provides this.

Headlines might focus on security for the tenant but you could argue security for the landlord is crucial. Fuller was just as keen to stress the rights landlords require to provide the homes we all need. The government must give them an opportunity to make a reasonable return on a responsible basis, and also recognise that sometimes their circumstances do change. Managing local housing markets as we do in south Norfolk, weve got to be respectful of that fact, with certain policiesarguably the abolition of section 21creating challenges in this regard. It is not fair if just because someone becomes a landlord in the first place, theyre handcuffed to the system in perpetuity.

The overarching consequence of making the situation less appealing for landlords, is that you could end up with a reduction in supply, and that doesnt help anybody.

Of course vulnerable tenants can find themselves on the sharp end of the market and Fuller stressed that his local authority provides the backstop of support in that event. Its not just the tenants, its not just the landlords, our job is to help run the middle.

There is no question that tenants can face immense uncertainty too. For Beales, the governments commitment to abolishing Section 21 is welcome. Section 21 gives landlords the power to evict children who then have to move school, they might have to change their doctors, might change all the public services that go with that and be uprooted. In its research Shelter has come across examples of elderly people being evicted on the basis that the landlord doesnt want to pay for the adaptations that are necessary for that person staying in the home. For Beales, the landlord certainly needs the right to turf out problematic tenants, but they should pursue it through section 8 if it is anti-social behaviour or similar. Young people and the elderly should not be at the whim of a system that gives them no protection and no right of recourse.

Foster, meanwhile, explained that she herself was in the private rental sector like most in the millennial generation and had often suffered from unjust practices. Over six years she lived in ten properties because we kept being evicted. There is a huge amount of uncertainty for tenants. There have been some improvements, particularly with the recent abolition of letting agents fees, but the fact remains that if you are a private renter, you are completely at the mercy of your landlord. Section 8 means that its quite straightforward to evict problem tenants, people who arent paying their rent or keeping the property in good condition. That means section 21 is not necessary and arguably that abolition is defensible.

However this position was questioned, with landlords challenging the characterisation of section 8 as straightforward. Norris said, I dont have a problem losing section 21 in theory if we can get the rest of the system to work. Beales agreed that it was worth twinning court reform with the abolition of section 21.

The wide-ranging discussion went on to cover the idea of rent controls, regulation in comparable democracies like Germany, and other recent reforms to the housing sector. The theme though remained the balance of responsibility between the tenant and the landlord. There can be a lot of antagonism between the two sides. But all have an interest in getting this right. And as Beales said, usually when markets work well there is not so much antagonism between the user and provider of the service.

Lessor and Lessee were suggested by the audience as new terms: a way to break the mindset that has set in around the words tenant and landlord. Most panellists, despite urging their own policy reforms, agreed that might be a good start.

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Han says he will end Taiwan labor reforms to allow ‘bosses to ask for more overtime – Taiwan News

Posted: at 10:56 am

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) The erstwhile acting mayor of Kaohsiung and Kuomintang (KMT) presidential candidate, Han Kuo-yu (), doubled down on his proposal to abolish recent labor reforms at a rally in Chiayi County on Monday (Oct. 21).

At a campaign event in Pingtung on Oct. 16, an audience member called for the abolition of "one fixed day off, one flexible day off" () labor reforms, and Han responded he would review it. While visiting a temple in Pingtung's Neipu Township on Oct. 17, claiming widespread dissatisfaction with the formula, he pledged he would abolish it once he takes office as president on Jan. 11.

Han, who is on a three-month sabbatical from his post as mayor, claimed, "Since the implementation of the one fixed day off, one flexible day off policy, business owners and laborer friends have complained. So, I repeat that if I have the opportunity to be president of the Republic of China, I will take the initiative to abolish one fixed day off, one flexible day off."

At an election rally in Chiayi County on Monday, Han said that "framing it all under one decree no longer meets the current needs of the diversified labor environment," reported ETtoday. He stressed that, "Laborers want to make more money and bosses want to be able to ask employees to work overtime together," and called for it to be both "reviewed and abolished."

Revised just last year, the formula stipulates that employees must have one mandatory day off and one flexible day off per seven days, but has been unpopular both with business groups and labor activists. The government has defended the measure as a balanced way of protecting workers interests.

On Oct. 17, the Ministry of Labor responded by saying the measure had improved the quality of life by giving workers two days off per week, while still maintaining their right to work overtime. The ministry demanded Han explain whether he wanted to return to the previous system where workers might only get one day free per week, or whether he wanted to force employees to take two days off without the possibility of overtime.

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First Thai female Theravada monk named one of BBCs 100 most influential women – Global Voices

Posted: at 10:56 am

Dhammananda Bhikkhuni (Source:

This article is from Prachatai, an independent news site in Thailand, and is republished on Global Voices as part of a content-sharing agreement.

Dhammananda Bhikkhuni, the first Thai woman to be ordained as a Theravada monk and current abbess of Songdhammakalyani Monastery, has been listed as one of the BBCs 100 Women in 2019.

While Thailand has around 300,00 Buddhist monks, women are still mostly barred from being ordained on Thai soil. In 1928, after the attempted ordination of two women, Prince Bhujong Jombunud Sirivahano, then the Supreme Patriarch of Thailand, issued an edict forbidding monks from ordaining women as monks or novices. The Sangha Supreme Council of Thailand also issued two rulings in 1984 and 1987 forbidding the ordination of women. However, the Sangha Act of 1962, the secular law governing Thai monastics, and the 1992 amendment do not prohibit the ordination of women.

Moreover, the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRC) ruled in 2015 that the Sangha Supreme Councils prohibition of the ordination of women is a violation of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), to which Thailand is a state party. NHRC also ruled that such prohibition is in violation of the Thai Constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), both of which protect freedom of religion.

Dhammanandas efforts to re-establish the Theravada bhikkhunilineage in Thailand have been met with resistance from both the laity and monks who are against ordaining women, most of whom have claimed that the ordination of women is not possible as the Theravada bhikkhuni lineage has already died out. Bhikkhuni refers to a fully ordained female monastic. Despite the lack of secular law prohibiting the ordination of women, bhikkunis are seen as a foreign tradition and the two main Buddhist orders in Thailand have yet to officially accept ordained women as part of the Sangha the Buddhist community of monastics.

Dhammananda is currently the abbess of the Songdhammakalyani Monastery in Nakhon Pathom, founded by her mother Voramai Kabilsingh, who was ordained as a monk in the Taiwanese Dharmaguptaka lineage in 1971, receiving the religious name Ta Tao Fa Tzu. The monastery is currently Thailands only all-female temple. Varanggana Vanavichayen, the first woman to be ordained as a monk on Thai soil, was ordained at the Songdhammakalyani Monastery in 2002.

However, the Thai authorities do not recognize the monastery as a Buddhist temple, and when Dhammananda and other monks from the monastery went to pay respect to the late King Bhumibol at the Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall, where his body lay in state, they were denied entry. The officials claimed that they were turned away on the grounds that it is illegal for women to wear the saffron robe under Thai Buddhism. 22 other female monks and novices were also turned away after being told that they would be only be allowed to pay their respect to the late King if they removed their robes and wore the regular black clothing of laypeople.

The BBCs 100 Women list includes those who had made the headlines or influenced important stories over the past 12 months, as well as those who have inspiring stories to tell, achieved something significant or influenced their societies in ways that wouldn't necessarily make the news.

The theme for 2019 is the Female Future and the list also includes Kuwaiti womens rights activist Alanoud Alsharekh, who works on the abolition of Kuwaits honour-killing law; Japanese model and author Yumi Ishikawa, founder of the #KuToo campaign against the requirement for women to wear high heels at work; sumo wrestler Hiyori Kon, who fought to change the rules which barred women from competing professionally in sumo; US congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest woman ever to serve in the US congress; Filipino journalist and press freedom advocate Maria Ressa, an outspoken critic of President Rodrigo Dutertes war on drugs; and Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg, whose school strike protests mobilized millions of young people around the world, forming the Fridays for future movement.

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One man had the answer for todays troubles: Gandhi | Opinion – Hindustan Times

Posted: at 10:56 am

In his recent remarks on Mahatma Gandhi and the contemporary world, United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antnio Guterres said, Part of his genius lay in his ability to see the interconnectedness and the unity between all things. His political achievements included leading the movement that ended colonial rule in India, using peace, love and integrity to prevail. But his vision went far beyond politics to encompass human rights and sustainable development.

Today, I see how far we have come in the past century. After two terrible world wars, countries across Asia and Africa declared their independence. India won its freedom. And the India of today can be proud of its record of 17 successive free elections; of universal adult suffrage; of the abolition of untouchability; of the verve, passion and creativity that propel its young people towards enterprise and service, and much more.

Much of this was inspired by Gandhi and the moral authority of his philosophy of satyagraha. Because, while Gandhi fought for Indias Independence, for the rights of his disenfranchised compatriots, he stood, through the sheer moral force of his example, for a hope shared by those weary of war a hope of a better life. In his person and methods, Indias nationalism was, in effect, universalism.

In over a century since Gandhi returned to India, a billion people have been lifted out of poverty, more babies are surviving to become adolescents, more children are going to school, fewer have to live in fear of being targeted because of their race or sexuality.

But we cannot fail, in our appreciation for what has gone right, to recognise the ways in which we continue to fall short and, in some instances, have even reversed prior gains. Today, consensus enshrined in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights is fraying, even as the politics of fear and resentment takes root. Our world teeters on the brink of disaster brought on by anthropogenic climate change and unsustainable practices. Too many continue to go without, while too much is owned by too few. Privilege still determines opportunity. The structures of power and injustice Gandhi fought against mutated, but they are still there, creating yawning disparities in income, wealth, education, health, personal safety, access to finance and opportunity. And to set off once again on the path to greater prosperity and freedom for all, to leave no one behind, we must turn, once again, to Gandhi.

If the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), that all nations are committed to achieving by 2030, are the worlds toughest to-do list, it is Gandhi who provides us with the tools to check the list off. These 17 SDGs mark a recognition of the interconnectedness of the challenges we face today and we can only solve them together.

Our old lenses do not quite fit we need multifocals, perhaps, to look into the future, informed by the past, and grounded in the present. Gandhis endless innovation and tinkering, his reconciliation of tradition and a deeply egalitarian modernity, signpost the paths not yet taken the ones we must now take.

Were already seeing how his ideas today, in the 21st century, effect massive change. India has channelled his image and emphasis on cleanliness to implement one of the largest sanitation drives in the world. Gandhis innovations in staging non-violent protest today inform social movements, from Occupy to Fridays for Future, in New Delhi and New York and everywhere in between. His concept of trusteeship finds echoes in our concerns about economic inequality and of leaving no one behind. And his determination that the land we live off is not an inheritance from our forefathers, but in fact a loan from our children that we hold in trust for them, forms the core of modern ecological thought.

In his profoundly holistic vision of life is the blueprint for sustainable development a radical humanism that rejects untamed consumption and production and embraces needs over wants. Gandhis life and his prolific work touch on every aspect of human life caste, gender, religion, technology, the economy, literature, nationalism and colonialism and in his ruminations and experiments, we can find a greater truth: The personal is political, each individual has inherent dignity and worth, and, in these universal imperatives, is our path to a better future in which there is no politics without principles, commerce without morality, or science without humanity.

Today, on this UN Day, we recommit ourselves to those same ideals, which resonate so well with those enshrined in our United Nations Charter.

Renata Dessallien is the UN resident coordinator in India

The views expressed are personal

First Published:Oct 23, 2019 18:57 IST

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No to the sellout contract! Take the GM strike out of the hands of the UAW! – World Socialist Web Site

Posted: at 10:56 am

18 October 2019

With the tentative agreement announced Wednesday by the United Auto Workers, the struggle by 48,000 autoworkers at General Motors enters a new stage. If their struggle is not to be defeated, workers must mobilize against the UAW, which is collaborating with the auto companies to impose a contract that will set a new benchmark for exploitation for generations to come.

The Wall Street investors who stand behind General Motors have made clear their attitude toward the deal. We continue to believe that if this is ratified, it is a fairly solid outcome for GM, analyst Joseph Spak said. The financial implications of the deal dont look too onerous.

Reports that President Trump spoke to GM CEO Marry Barra and UAW President Gary Jones by phone on Wednesday demonstrate the extreme sensitivity of the entire ruling class to the outcome of this strike. A defeat of GM workers will not only set the standard for labor costs throughout the American economy, it will represent a major defeat for the entire working class.

Only a week ago, the UAW claimed in a statement that GM had not negotiated in good faith since day one. And yet, after more than 32 days on strike, the UAW has presented workers with a contract that, in almost all respects, is identical to GMs initial proposal from September.

In a press conference at GMs Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit, an evasive UAW Communications Director Brian Rothenberg lied through his teeth. After declaring that the contract would not only end perma-temps in the industry, but throughout the nation, he deliberately concealed the fact that the UAW had sanctioned a vast expansion of low paid, at-will employees.

Rothenberg was forced to acknowledge that the much-publicized promise by GM to invest billions in the United States and hire or retain 9,000 workers is not contained in the contract and is so much hot air.

The response of workers to the contract is overwhelmingly negative. The opposition to the deal that autoworkers have expressed on social media is only one indication of a brewing rebellion against the UAW.

Fearing a revolt, the UAW decided to keep workers on the picket line during the voting process. But the union is forcing workers to vote on the contract in an accelerated process that will leave them no time to adequately study the details and discuss the agreement among themselves. The full contract was not even released to GM National Council members, apparently out of fear that it could leak out to the membership.

Until the full contract has been released, the worst parts of the agreement remain unknown. But the official highlights released yesterday by the UAW already reveal massive concessions:

* Three out of the four plants GM slated for closure last year will remain closed. This includes the historic Lordstown plant, which once employed 4,500 workers. There are estimates that as many as 25,000 related jobs could be destroyed in the Youngstown area, which is already plagued by deindustrialization, poverty and the opioid epidemic. The Detroit-Hamtramck plant will, at some unspecified time, be re-tooled to manufacture a new model electric pickup truck, with only a fraction of the number of workers originally employed at the plant.

* Workers will receive only two wage increases of three percent over the four-year contract, failing to keep pace with inflation and further lowering their base wage rate in real terms.

* More than 2,000 higher-paid legacy workers will be pushed out of the plants by next February, by means of buyouts from the Special Attrition Program.

* The deal grants a blank check to GM on the number of temps it hires in its plants, requiring only that any decision be approved by the UAW.

* Temps will be hired in at full-time positions after three consecutive years of employment. This wording implies that temporary workers who are laid off and re-hired will start from the beginning.

* Appendix K, the clause from the 2015 contract that enabled the secret memorandums of understanding that sanctioned the replacement of full-time workers with contractors at Lordstown and Lake Orion, has been enhanced to [identify] opportunities to retain work and add new work to UAW-represented GM locations, i.e., expand the use of contractors at less profitable facilities.

* The deal establishes a new joint labor-management National Committee on Advanced Technology to discuss the impact of future technologies on GMs labor force.

* The UAW-GM Center for Human Resources, exposed as a nexus of bribery and graft by the federal corruption probe, will be kept in all but name. The current building will be closed and sold off. But the joint programs themselves will be retained and eventually housed in a new facility, paid for by GM.

The sincere but mistaken hope of many autoworkers that the combined pressure of impending federal corruption indictments and the militancy of the rank-and-file would force the UAW to fight has been demonstrated to be an illusion.

From the beginning, the UAW pursued a definite strategy of wearing down workers on the picket line in order to impose a defeat. That is why the UAW kept Ford and Fiat Chrysler workers on the job, enforced a total information blockade, and strung the GM workers out on $250 per week in strike pay.

The UAW also sought to isolate GM workers from their brothers and sisters internationally by promoting toxic America-first nationalism.

After a group of Mexican GM workers were fired for courageously refusing to accept increases in production during the strike in the US and appealed directly to American autoworkers for support, the UAW responded by demanding the reallocation of products from Mexican plants to the United States. This whipsawing of workers in different countries enables global corporations like GM to pit workers against each other in a race to the bottom.

The UAW is attempting to shut down the strike at precisely the point where it is beginning to intersect with broader sections of workers, posing the possibility for a joint struggle by the entire working class. The tentative agreement was announced the day before the beginning of the strike by some 30,000 Chicago public school teachers. Last weekend, copper miners in the Southwest and UAW Mack Truck workers on the East Coast joined GM workers on strike.

In all of these struggles, the unions are playing an identical role. The Chicago Teachers Union, which called a strike only after it was unavoidable, is openly seeking to limit it to as short a duration as possible. Its sellout of the last strike in 2012 paved the way for the closure of dozens of schools by then-mayor Rahm Emanuel, Obamas former White House chief of staff.

By their own behavior, the trade unions have demonstrated that they cannot be reformed. They have exposed their own essence as bribed tools of corporate management, organically hostile to the interests of the workers they claim to represent.

GM workers must now draw the appropriate lessons and take the initiative out of the hands of the UAW.

A no vote is necessary. But that by itself is insufficient. The UAW will respond to a contract rejection by redoubling its campaign of lies and intimidation, as it did after the rejection of the Chrysler contract in 2015.

The urgent task for autoworkers is to form rank-and-file factory committees to take control of the struggle. These committees should make the following demands:

* No vote without time to study the contract! Workers must demand access to the full contract, not just the bogus highlights, and be given at least a full week to study it before voting. Workers should hold broad, democratic discussions on the contract, outside of the view and control of the union.

* For rank-and-file oversight of the balloting process! Autoworkers should insist that their rank-and-file committees have the authority to oversee voting, to ensure that there is no ballot-stuffing or vote-rigging, as is widely believed to have occurred during the ratification of the Ford contract in 2015.

* Expand the strike to Ford and Fiat Chrysler! Unite with the working class of different countries! Rank-and-file committees should be based on the principle of internationalism--that workers everywhere have the same basic interests.

* Committees should formulate their own demands for the strike, including a 40 percent pay raise, the restoration of COLA for current and retired workers, the abolition of the multi-tier wage and benefit system, the immediate conversion of all temps into full-time workers with full wages and benefits, the reopening of all closed plants and the re-hiring of laid-off workers.

* Autoworkers must defend the courageous GM workers in Silao, Mexico and demand the rehiring of those fired for supporting the US strike.

The attacks by General Motors in the US are part of a global strategy of the ruling class. The auto companies are preparing and already implementing a jobs bloodbath, which is part of the efforts of the ruling elites to organize a further redistribution of wealth from the working class to the rich.

The fight against GM is a fight against capitalism. The GM strike can and must be transformed into a powerful political movement of the working class armed with a socialist program, including the transformation of the global auto industry and the Wall Street banks into public enterprises under the collective ownership and democratic control of the working class.

Tom Hall

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IR35: We need to get ready – Recruiter

Posted: at 10:56 am

IR35 will be rolled out in the private sector in six months time, on 6 April 2020, leaving recruiters and their clients just six months to get their house in order. Feedback from our members has been mixed, some feel they are ready, others havent yet begun looking at it. And who can blame them? Its difficult enough to see beyond the 31st of October let alone April next year.

The BBC cases show us how high the stakes can be, and how head-scratching complicated it can be to work out wherever an assignment falls inside or outside of IR35. Falling foul of the law next April will have big financial consequences, for agencies. Agencies supplying contractors could be financially liable for loss of tax if, after an enquiry, HMRC considers the engagement as falling inside of IR35. Meanwhile, agencies who can demonstrate knowledge in the area will undoubtedly be seen as more attractive for contractors and hirers.

IR35 wont wait for us

Thats despite our strong warning to ministers that now is completely the wrong time for more changes in business, and we need to protect our flexible labour market. Skipping over the Brexit uncertainty for a moment, next year will also welcome several new employment laws courtesy of the Good Work Plan itemised payslips and written statements for all, the key information document, the abolition of Swedish derogation, and holiday pay reference period changes from 12 to 15 weeks will all land on the same date. Thats a lot to deal with which is why getting to grips with IR35 early will make all the difference.

So what do you need to do?

The REC has been working hard to help members prepare. This has included a series of seminars across the country and there are more to follow. The IR35 hub contains helpful resources you can use to understand the changes, what needs to be done, and how to go about getting ready. As always our team is on hand to help should you need us.

We can help you with the other stuff too read up on the Good Work Plan changes that are coming into effect, and navigate the uncertainty with our Brexit hub.

With only six months to go, and what looks like an extremely bumpy journey to get there, getting ready for IR35 needs to be a top priority.

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IR35: We need to get ready - Recruiter

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