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Pulp, Paper Union Heads Hold Unique Global Video Conference

Jan. 16, 2009 - The first-ever full video conference of lay union reps and full time officials of the global union Workers Uniting, covering the pulp, paper and packaging sector took place on Jan. 14 from three locations: London (UK), Pittsburgh, Ohio and Menasha, Wisconsin (USA).

Workers Uniting is the global union formed in 2008 by Unite in the UK and Ireland and the United Steelworkers in the U.S. and Canada.

According to Unite the Union, both unions have substantial membership in the pulp, paper and packaging industries and represent members employed in a number of multi-national companies.

Union representatives from paper and packaging companies including SCA, Kimberley-Clark, UPM, Georgia-Pacific and Chesapeake, along with senior union officials Jon Geenen, Leeann Anderson, Gerry Fernandez of the USW and Tony Burke and Peter Ellis of Unite.

The conference was chaired by Jon Geenen international vice president of USW and Raffiq Moosa, Chair of the Unite Graphical Paper and Media Sector.

"There was a full and free exchange of information and debate by the lay reps from the USW locals and Unite chapels. Relationships are excellent and we are committed to work together, to co-ordinate our activities on pay and conditions as well as issues such as health and safety," commented Greenen and Tony Burke, assistant general secretary of Unite."During 2009 it is envisaged that there will be further conferences of this type involving lay reps in the sector as well as a cross exchange of lay union reps.

"Workers Uniting was created to defend our members in the global economy - and this was the first step along the way to cementing our new global union," they said.

Among the items discussed, included:

  • An overview by both unions of the current economic situation in the USA and UK
  • An overview by both unions of the current situation in the paper and packaging industries in the USA and UK
  • Discussions of business developments in SCA, Kimberley Clark, UPM, Georgia Pacific and Chesapeake.
  • Current and recent pay negotiations and settlements in the US and UK papermaking industries, and co-ordination of pay activity in the USA and UK.
  • Organising campaigns in the US and UK papermaking sectors
  • The Employee Free Choice Act in the USA and the impact of the recent factory occupation at Republic Windows and Doors in Chicago
  • Workers Uniting International Women's Day newsletter.

SOURCE: Unite the Union




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