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Press Release / Politics / Rights of workers harmed due to ITUC and Sharan Burrow’s campaigns and polictics

Rights of workers harmed due to ITUC and Sharan Burrow’s campaigns and polictics

By James Franklin on February 11 2016 | 191 Views

The International Trade Union Confederation in Geneva launched a campaign against the World Cup in Qatar and moved on to over throw Sepp Blatter.

The International Trade Union Confederation in Geneva launched a campaign against the World Cup in Qatar and moved on to over throw Sepp Blatter. Instead of improving the conditions of workers, the activists shows to mix up inside the Soccer policy, as their internal-mail traffic shows.

The General Secretary of the ITUC-CSI, Sharan Burrow, just had a big show-up at the WEF in Davos. The 61-years old Australian woman called for better working conditions worldwide. That is something nobody will disagree.

However, one of the favorite destinations of the public money financing the ITUC seems to be the FIFA. The International Football Federation with its controversial activities around the globe provides itself the unionists with a perfect campaign platform. But working conditions and human rights seems to be an old marginal story as internal emails the Weltwoche have been aware of shows. Together with Transparency International and other NGOs, the mingled unionists have gone very active in the business policy around FIFA. During their lobbying action against Sepp Blatter, Burrow and company even evoked the possibility to dissolve the FIFA.

Let’s have a short flashback. In December 2010, the Qatar was awarded the organization of the FIFA World cup 2022. The two other candidates, the United States and South Korea went back home with empty hands. Just six months after the vote, in May 2011, the ITUC launched a campaign called “Re-run the Vote”. The ground of such campaign against Qatar was the question of human rights violations and that FIFA shall award the World Cup to countries where worker’s rights are respected. However, when looking at the Global Law Index made and published by the ITUC itself, only very few countries should have the right to host the World Cup indeed. On the watch list, one can find not just dictatorships such as North Korea and Cuba, but also stable democracies such as Ireland and Switzerland. This ITUC lists systematic violation of worker’s rights in 27 countries including the United States. An an equal number of countries such a Greece or Qatar, the fundamental rights are not guaranteed according to the ITUC list. Whatever one may think of these listings, a World Cup doubtly will provide a great platform to promote these rights. However, the ITUC strategy seems to be another one.

In June 2011, the ITUC hires the Australian public relations firm Essential Media Communications (EMC) to manage its just launched campaign against Qatar. In August, EMC Director Gemma Swart started to work as the press officer for Sharan Burrow alogside with ITUC communication Director Tim Noonan (another Australian). In March 2014, the ITUC published a 34 pages report on Qatar, stating that 1.4 million workers would be held in the desert like slaves and stated that FIFA could have the ability to change that. The title of the document itself, “The Case Against Qatar” in however another indirect attack on FIFA, challenging directly Qatar as a World Cup location and organizer.

In the same vein, the next ITUC campaign was entitled “Save the FIFA”, which was launched during spring 2015, in preparation of Blatter’s re-election. The election is launched. The polls are promoting four candidates: Sepp Blatter, Luis Figo, Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein and Michael Van Praag. ITUC is moving to make the withdraw of the World Cup from Qatar an issue for all challengers. The key message for this campaign is: the FIFA must be protected against the Qatar-disaster so look for a candidate to the FIFA presidency that will vote against the World Cup in Qatar. And according to ITUC, only one candidate fulfilled all these requirements. The dutch Van Praag. These world-masters also tried to involve the BBC in their anti-Blatter campaign. In March 17, the ITUC employee David Norton emailed to Gemma Swart: “I wonder if you have heard from your contact at the BBC, whether they intend to carry out the candidates debates without Blatter”. Stupidly, the ITUC favourite Van Praag withdrawed his candidacy. However, this did not affect the fighting spirit of our unionists. ON the 20th of May, Swart writes in an email to Burrow and Noonan: “I love FIFA-politics. Better than the Labour party”.

During Spring 2015, the events rolled over. On May 27th, two days before Sepp Blatter’s re-election, the famous arrests of seven FIFA delegates happened in Zurich at the instigation of the United States attorney. However, Blatter was re-elected. A week later, on June 2nd, he gave the way to a legal and political Power play from overseas and announced his resignation for February 2016. Swart responded euphorically to the “Blatter’s exit visa”. In an email to Noonan she writes: “Qatar and Russia should now be invalidated. We can have a new assignment. And six months of open path for a campaign toward the Congress”. The next morning, both want to know from Borrow: “Do you think we can claim compensation from the investigations conducted by the FBI or Switzerland? If corruption is proven in the award of the WC to South Africa, Russia, Qatar, could government in Oz (Australia), the US, UK, Japan, South Korea, etc. sue the FIFA on the lost $$ for unfair tenders that costs millions to taxpayers ?”.

On June 15, 2015, Swart wrote a long email to Noonan and asked how they could launch a call for FIFA reforms to make it look more international. Swart also lists a few suggestions. The Union tempered her zeal in a diplomatic way and called for a more slower approach: “We need to find partners to go along with us, no surprise therefore, very gently”. On June 29, Swart then send emails to Alex (Wilks), campaign Director of the civil rights movement AVAAZ and to Bonita Mersiades, PR specialist working inside the official Australian sport federations. Until January 2010, Mersiades was in the Australian team to bid for the hosting of the 2018 or 2022 World Cup in Australia. Swart’s mail is entitled: “Fifa campaign coordination call Tuesday, June 30”. She called for more pressure to reform the football associations. And her wish seemed to be granted. Indeed, the FIFA Ethic Committee is about to meet for the first time in Bern on the 2nd of September. Soon after, she sends Blatter into the desert.

The fundings of a disinformation campaign
How NGOs are financing their campaigns is always a difficult question. But the Spin doctors of the causes appeared to be safe. On September 9, Swart wrote to Noonan and others: “Prince Ali just announced that he may run again (for the presidency). We do benefit if he wins and Sheikh Salman lose. We can use some money for a disinformation campaign against Salman”. You have to understand: Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al-Khalifa of Bahrain is the favorite for Blatter’s succession. Facing allegations that he had something to do with the repression of the uprising in Bahrain, the FIFA election commission did not retained this as no evidence were brought up as we will be notified later. Indeed, it was another Sheikh Salman.

On September 25, the Swiss federal prosecutor opened a case against Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini. Sharan Burrow writes from her IPhone to Noonan, Swart and Jaimie Fuller, the Chairman of the sports water manufacturer Skins: “We should all urge Blatter’s resignation”. On September 29th, Deborah Unger from transparency International writes and email entitled: “Next steps of FIFA campaign” to Swart, Noonan, Mersiades and Fuller: “It looks like both Platini and Blatter hold still (in their position). Would it be worthwhile to briefly Skype to talk about the next steps?. Amongst other things: We start in October a global call, in which people can choose the worst example of corruption and FIFA is one of our “candidate”.

ON 7th October, a conference call between Unger, Mersiades, Noonan, Swart and Fuller took place. An email from Unger summarizes what was discussed. They agreed that the pressure on sponsors like Coca-Cola and Adidas should be increased and a TV debate should be organized between the candidates for the FIFA presidency. Jaimie Fuller answered: “I propose to keep that secret and invite the candidates to a meeting. At the appropriate time, we can propose a TV debate with the rules of engagement. So no one who has promised can turn back due to schedule conflicts”.

On October 8, 2015, the Ethic Commission of the FIFA suspended Blatter and Platini for a period of 90 days. This spurs our top NGO football politicians. On October 21, Tim Noonan writes to Gemma Swart and Sharan Burrow in copy: “FIFA publishes a anthem to Syria just when Assad is visiting the Kremlin” (this refers to a FIFA statement according to which, the Syrian U-17 soccer team was so proud to participate, despite adverse conditions at the U-17 World Cup in Russia). Swart answered: “Can we do something on Syria campaign? We need a picture of a bombed football field to show that this love anthem is just a joke. Could do a good share on social media”.

Destabilize and Dissolve
Then she comes to speak about Sheikh Salman: “If he wants to be invisible as a candidate, it might be worth, now to build pressure and slinging him out of the FIFA candidate pack. Otherwise we legitimize him as a candidate. Do we really want that the February elections takes place without Reform Commission ? More we can destabilize, better it is — starting right now”. How far the agencies would go on their destabilization moves, if only they could do it, is clear in an email from Deborah Unger, who writes to the ITUC, Fuller, Mersiades and the British MP Damian Collins and its other allies on the 20 December :”We have investigate through our Swiss colleagues of Transparency the likelihood that Swiss government could dissolve the FIFA”.

However, they noticed that no strong will on this existed on the Swiss Parliament. Burrow defended their involvement as normal campaigning. But critics to the unions and their allies comes now mostly from within their own ranks. Union’s representatives in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka stated that these campaigns do not improve but deteriorate the worker’s positions. These are the countries from which the largest number of workers in Qatar comes from. If the World Cup will not be in Qatar, then they will be the first to lose. The profits will then go back to the industrialized countries, among them the United States. The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) threatens thousands of jobs, complained Sanjeeva Reddy, President of the Inda largest trade union and also Vice-President of the ITUC. The workers will be harmed in the first place due to such campaigns and policies.



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