Saturday, September 13, 2014

Mongolia Brief September 9, 2014 Part V

Who does the State Specialized Inspection Agency work for?
September 9 (UB Post) The mission of the State Specialized Inspection Agency (SSIA) is “Enforcing law and ordinances in Mongolian territory and supporting a comfortable environment for people, society’s sustainable development and business, and creating conditions to live in a secure environment and consume healthy food.”

The State Specialized Inspection Agency recently examined factories using food additive substances. The SSIA identified that cake, milk, flour and meat factories are using food additives that are poisonous to the human body, and as some believe, can cause cancer and fetal abnormalities. The color and flavor additives have been banned from use in food products in the U.S. and Russia.
Over 274 raw materials in 54 food factories, as well as more than 30 flavor additives used by 65 public catering companies were examined. The State Specialized Inspection Agency found that 97 food additives, including 27 types of coloring, seven preservatives, 11 oxidizers, more than 30 types of thickeners, five kinds of acid regulators, one kind of sweetener, and eight kinds of color stabilizers were being used in yogurt, yeast, starch, gelatin, cocoa, sausage, cake frosting and decoration, jelly and chocolates. Many of the raw materials and products were imported from India, China, Russia, Germany, Korea and Australia.
Surprisingly, the SSIA avoided naming these factories. Why did they hide the names of these factories using harmful substances in food production?
The SSIA might have withheld the names to avoid accusations of defamation and negatively affecting those businesses. But everyone knows that health is always considered to be more important than money and authority.
The SSIA warned that the color and flavor additives can negatively affect liver health, cause fetal abnormalities, and are linked to causes of cancer and asthma. Unfortunately, they did not mention the names of the factories and did not provide more information about the food additives production. They issued fines to the poison producing factories, but it’s doubtful that the factories will respond to punishment handed out by the SSIA.
Mongolians will continue to be poisoned because they don’t know which companies are producing harmful products.
According to the mission of the Inspection Authority, they have promoted the business sector this time and put consumers’ interests second. This is not the first time the State Specialized Inspection Agency has done this. After every inspection they conduct, they hide secrets that threaten the public. What is the point of hiding the truth if lives are at stake?
It seems they do inspections in order to convince the public that they are trying to do something. Taking advantage of violations they encounter, they take bribes. It doesn’t matter if the violations are serious. If they can take a bribe, the violation remains a secret.
Many problematic issues with the State Specialized Inspection Agency have leds the public to draw these conclusions.
Only inspectors and businesses know what’s behind these secrets. Unfortunately, we consume products without knowing whether they are poison or food. Whose interests does the SSIA serve?
One specialist, Vice Chairman of the State Specialized Inspection Agency M.Baasandorj made a statement on, “We have hesitated to announce the companies and products’ names. We gave them a specific amount of time to respond to the violations and we will inspect them again. If they don’t make changes, at that time we will take measurements, such as announcing the companies’ names to the press.”

Where does the Trade Union’s money go?
September 9 (UB Post) The Confederation of Mongolian Trade Unions (CMTU) is the only organization that extorts money from taxpayers, besides the state. CMTU has 22 trade unions that regionalize the provinces and the capital, and 14 branch associations classified by profession.
The organization was founded in 1927 as the Central Council of Mongolian Trade Unions and prides itself on having the most members and supporters of any national organization to this day. Yet, it has never revealed its total revenue, incoming funding, how much it has growns, and on what and how it’s revenue is spent.
This article is not meant to discredit anyone’s work and accomplishments, but to give some simple equations on the financing of CMTU, which has unified thousands of teachers, doctors, miners, and construction and railway workers.
The Trade Union’s profitable business
The main focus of CMTU is to protect the labor rights of its members. The union currently has 214,620 members but this is only the known number of active members, which are doctors, teachers, miners, drivers, nutritionists, and road, construction and social workers working in large industries. There are members who aren’t always active, such as seniors and disabled people who’ve joined voluntarily.
The CMTU only provides services to taxpayers who are union members. According to the rules, dues collection from members is very simple. It’s a noncash payment method that automatically collects one or more percent from a member’s monthly wage, or similar income amount.
If we say that the average monthly wage of CMTU’s 214,620 members is 450,000 MNT, one percent (specified to be one percent or more) equals 4,500 MNT , and when multiplied by 214,620 (number of active members), the CMTU’s account automatically receives 965,790,000 MNT every month.
In other words, the confederation receives over one billion MNT a month from active members, which is the minimum amount of revenue. Certainly, this number increases when dues from inactive members are added.
On top of this, many organizations generate income for the CMTU. For example, the Central Cultural Palace of Mongolian Trade Unions. Besides providing services to members, the palace collects large amounts of rental income from comedy groups that perform there every day. The CMTU has several affiliated organizations, including the Institute of Labor, Songino Resort and the Transport Service Center.
The rights of Trade Union members
Teachers and doctors demanding a pay increase are able to quit work and strike because they’re members of the CMTU. By joining and paying dues to the CTMU, people exercise their right to participate in demonstrations and strikes protecting their rights and interests.
By becoming a member, individuals gain power to protect their labor rights, protection against illegal pressure and oppression from employers, job security, fair salaries for their work, access to lawyers and legal representation at discounted prices, agreements with employers established through the Trade Union, and members receive services at discounted prices from affiliated organizations of the CMTU. Theses are the rights of the CMTU’s members. Despite having over 214,000 active members, the CTMU Facebook page has just 745 likes. This certainly shows how many of the thousands of active members actually know their rights and address the union.
The victims of daily construction casualties are mostly laborers. In the past, the CMTU hasn’t said a single word blaming construction project owners. The victims may have not been members, but if the union could work with every member that pays dues, more members of the public would be more than willing to pay a percentage of their monthly salary in exchange for having their rights protected. The confederation should distribute practical information about how it works and its achievements, apart from performing demonstrations and strikes.
The benefits of a higher minimum wage
One achievement of the CMTU was the increase of the monthly minimum wage from 140,400 MNT to 192,000 MNT. Although salaries saw increases of more than 50,000 MNT, this increase backfired and caused the price of everyday products to rise.
Inflation rose by 4.5 percent according to the latest statistics. Inflation reached such a high level that additional 50,000 MNT didn’t make a difference for most workers. While the cost of living rose, nobody noticed that this 36.7 percent increase in the minimum wage increased the CMTU’s revenue by 36.7 percent. Simply put, members who paid 1,400 MNT for dues now pay 1,900 MNT.
Economists have mentioned that product prices and inflation rose as the minimum wage was increased. Officials have repeatedly told the CMTU not to perform demonstrations and strikes using teachers and doctors. The latest submission to the government from the CMTU was two month ago, in July.
The submission highlighted that the government should pay special attention to the declining quality of life of employees and withering purchasing power when developing the 2015 state budget, and take urgent measures to eliminate unemployment and poverty. The CMTU included that employee wages and all sorts of pension and benefits should be increased by no less than 60 percent.
If this proposal is fulfilled, the outcome of accelerated inflation will be dealt with by the private sector. Behind this operation lies the hidden tactic to boost the CMTU’s dues revenue.
It’s fantastic to have an organization that protects and defends laborers, but how about sharing information about its operations, finances, reports, revenue and expenditure with laborers? Just like how the CMTU constantly demands that the government provide transparent reports, shouldn’t they also do the same, at least once?
Once again, this article isn’t denying the confederation’s accomplishments, but informing the public about how the CMTU has reached and worked with dues paying members, and what progress it has made in ensuring human rights and safe work environments, apart from increasing the minimum wage.
Link to article

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