Network Roundup May 2020

18-05-2020

 

Read this month’s update on trade and sustainability topics, with on the ground analysis from our international network.

Spain

Isabel Castillo
Network Representative, Spain

Draft plan for adaptation to climate change released

The Ministry for the Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge released the draft of the II National Plan for Adaptation to Climate Change, 2021-2030, a revision of the first plan approved in 2006.

The draft of the PNACC 2021-2030 defines and describes 81 sectoral lines of action organized in 18 areas of work, among which human health and various environmental concerns will be most relevant to our members. It also proposes a new governance, to facilitate the coherence of climate action and enhance new practices in legislating, planning, budgeting, managing and reporting.

More information and contributions here.

US & Canada

Kelli Hoggle

Network Representative, US & Canada

Farmworkers, mostly undocumented, become ‘essential’ during pandemic

The state of farm working in the US, and those who perform the work, has drastically changed since COVID-19 has swept the US, going from unnoticed to completely necessary. Most of the fieldwork in the US is performed by immigrant workers, most of whom are undocumented and have been performing this work for decades. In order to keep the food supply chain steady, farmworkers are deemed ‘essential’ and now the spotlight has turned on them to reveal how vital their work is to feed America, yet the irony is they are also considered illegal. The hope is that the US government will realize how vital these workers are to the US economy and food systems and make a way for them to gain legal status so that they can better have their working rights protected.

Argentina

Jimena Sanchez
Network Representative, Latin America

Mercosur: EU welcomes Argentina’s continued engagement in free-trade talks

The European Union is pleased that Argentina has decided to go ahead with talks on the EU-Mercosur Association Agreement. This includes both the association between Mercosur and its bloc as well as the free trade agreement with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). Alberto Fernandez's government has decided to pause other ongoing negotiations due to differences with its regional partners.

More details about this reclassification.

Bangladesh

Saiful Millat
Network Representative, Bangladesh

Rights of workers upon layoffs
 
Following the pandemic’s impact on business, leading to retailers being closed and orders being cancelled – low-income workers are most affected. It is important that the relevant labor law is still followed. Some key parts of this labour law are summarized below. 

A laid-off worker should be paid compensation by the employer for all days during which he is laid-off, minus any weekly holidays. The amount should be equal to half of the total of the basic wages + dearness allowance + housing allowance, if any. The employer shall maintain a muster-roll to keep entries therein by or for the laid-off workers who may present themselves for work at the establishment at the appointed time during normal working hours. Except - when a laid off worker refuses to accept (on the same wages) an alternative employment not requiring any special skill or previous experience, in the same establishment or at another belonging to the same employer and situated in the same town/village/within a radius of eight kilometers from the establishment. A worker being in continuous service under the employer for one year or more, may be retrenched.  

Australia and New Zealand

Antonio Pantalone

Network Representative, Australia and New Zealand

Australian government announces plan to ease COVID-19 restrictions

Australia now has around 1,000 active cases of COVID-19, with more than 730,000 tests undertaken. As a result, the Government has outlined a 3-step plan to re-open a COVID-safe Australia and economy.

  • step 1 will focus on carefully reopening the economy and giving Australians opportunities to return to work and social activities, including gatherings of up to 10 people, up to five visitors in the family home and some local and regional travel
  • step 2 builds on this with gatherings of up to 20, and more businesses reopening, including gyms, beauty services and entertainment venues like galleries and cinemas
  • step 3 will see a transition to COVID-safe ways of living and working, with gatherings of up to 100 people permitted. Arrangements under step 3 will be the ‘new normal’ while the virus remains a threat. International travel and mass gatherings over 100 people will remain restricted

A detailed plan can be found here, and a summary plan can be found here.

 

India

Natasha Majumdar,

Network Representative, India.

Indian States Relax Labour, Industrial and Welfare Laws

Certain states in India have proposed or notified relaxations in labour, industrial and welfare laws during the COVID-19 pandemic with a view to revitalise the economy. Changes, either proposed or notified, impact working hours and shifts, salaries, worker lay-offs, and overall labour laws including minimum wages, industrial safety rules, employees compensation act, health and safety, labour unions and worker representations. The time period of the relaxations varies across the states. The Indian government has withdrawn its order on compulsory wage payments by firms during lockdown.

Further information: