At least 741 workers died in workplace accidents in first five months of 2017

At least 741 workers died in the first five months of 2017 in workplace accidents, with at least 146 worker deaths in May alone, according to a report recently released by a non-governmental organization dealing with worker health and safety issues.

The monthly report was shared by the Worker Health and Work Safety Assembly (İSİGM), an NGO comprised of workers, worker relatives, doctors, engineers, academics, journalists and lawyers who deal with labor issues. The organization reportedly based its June 4-dated report on data from print and online media, labor unions and organizations.

The report noted that the sectors in which most workers died in May were agriculture and construction. According to the report, some 37 of the 146 workers who died in May were in the agriculture and forestry sector, while 30 were in construction and 23 in transportation.

In the same month, 33 workers died after being crushed by structural collapses at workplaces, 26 in traffic accidents, 24 as a result of falling from height, 18 due to heart attack and cerebral bleedings, 10 in armed violence, eight in suicides, eight as a result of lightening stroke, four due to drowning and poisoning, three by electric shock, three as a result of their harnesses breaking, two due to being struck by objects, one in an explosion and six others due to other reasons.

Of the 146 workers who lost their lives, in May, 113 were wage earners in the status of workers and civil servants, while the remaining 33 were registered as freelancers, with 28 of them being small landowners and five tradesmen.

The report also released the age distribution of the victims, stating that five of the workers who died in May were aged between 15 and 17; some 19 were in the age group of 18-27; 68 of them aged between 28-50; 36 in the age group of 51-64; some eight were 65 and over; while the remaining 10 workers’ ages could not be determined.

Most of the worker deaths in May occurred in Istanbul, the western provinces of Bursa and İzmir, Ankara, the Central Anatolian province of Konya and the Mediterranean resort of Antalya.

Some 12 of the worker deaths in May occurred in Istanbul, while nine occurred separately in Bursa and nine occurred in İzmir. They were followed by Ankara and the Central Anatolian province of Konya with eight deaths in each province and Antalya with seven deaths, according to the report.

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Workers’ Shrinking Piece of Global Pie

Posted on April 10, 2017 by Peter Bakvis
New research points to globalization as a key driver of labor’s declining share of national income, particularly in developing countries.
A just-released International Monetary Fund paper warns policymakers about the risks of ignoring labor’s shrinking share of national incomes in many countries around the world.

“The decline in labor share has been concomitant with increases in income inequality,” the report notes, a trend which “can fuel social tension and … harm economic growth.”

The paper, “Understanding the Downward Trend in Labor Income Shares,” will be a chapter in the IMF’s flagship World Economic Outlook report, to be released April 18.

The report documents a decline in the share of national income going to labor (wages) versus capital (profits) in advanced economies starting in the 1980s and emerging and developing economies a decade later. While some countries have not followed the general trend, the IMF finds that for a sample of 89 economies for which it has sufficient data, those representing 78 percent of advanced economy GDP and 70 percent of emerging-developing economy GDP experienced declines in labor share between 1991 and 2014.

Countries representing 78% of advanced economy GDP had declines in labor share of income between 1991 and 2014.
Among developing-emerging economy countries, the IMF report attributes most of the decline in labor share to “global integration,” notably participation in global value chains. For the advanced-economy group, the paper attributes one-half of the decline to the impact of technology, and a quarter to global integration, comprising financial integration and participation in global value chains.

The report also acknowledges that these factors are all strongly interlinked. Trade, financial integration, and the application of new technologies have all been expedited by the removal of restrictions on trade and capital mobility.

The IMF paper explains the role of trade and financial integration, which intensified as a result of international agreements on trade and investment liberalization, by noting that “offshoring — or the threat thereof — lowers labor’s bargaining power.”

The report also notes the contribution of domestic policy decisions regarding product and labor market rules to the decline: “Changes in policies (such as declining corporate income tax rates) may have strengthened incentives to substitute capital for labor, while changes in institutional arrangements (such as unionization rates) may have contributed to the decline in labor’s share of income by lowering labor’s bargaining power.”

The report’s policy recommendations can be summarized as ‘training, training, and more training.’
Additionally, it states that policy changes allowing for “increased [corporate] concentration across a number of industries” have contributed to increased profit and reduced labor shares in national income.

The section on policy implications is short and disappointing. It can be summarized as proposing ”training, training, and more training” to facilitate the reallocation of displaced workers, although it concedes that “longer-term redistributive measures might be required as well.”

Although the report notes that policy decisions, both domestic and international, have played an important role in weakening labor’s bargaining power relative to capital’s and contributing to the decline of labor’s income share, it proposes nothing to change those policy directions.

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Today in Labor History – April 13th

labor history april 13
Jimmy Hoffa

The Great Northern rail strike began in Helena, Montana, spreading to St. Paul within a few days. The strike was led by Eugene V. Debs, president of the American Railway Union, and succeeded in shutting down critical rail links, resulting in a settlement giving in to nearly all of the union’s demands. The successful strike led to thousands of rail workers joining the new union. – 1894

The International Hod Carriers & Building Laborers’ Union (today’s Laborers’ Int’l Union) was founded, as 25 delegates from 23 Local Unions in 17 cities representing 8,186 Laborers, met in Washington DC. – 1903

Labor leader and Socialist Party founder Eugene V. Debs was imprisoned for opposing American entry into World War I.  While in jail he ran for president and received one million votes. – 1919

A 17-year-old Jimmy Hoffa led his co-workers at a Kroger warehouse in Clinton, Indiana in a successful job action. By refusing to unload a shipment of perishable strawberries, they forced the company to give in to their demands. The “strawberry boys” had to report to work at 4:30 a.m., stay on the job for 12 hours, and were paid 32¢ an hour only if growers arrived with berries to unload. Plus, they were required to spend three-fourths of any earnings buying goods from Kroger. – 1930

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