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Seafood Working Group Tackles Forced Labor and Environmental Abuses in Asia and the Pacific

Today, the Seafood Working Group (SWG) relaunches its research and advocacy coalition with 23 official members and a new Advisory Body . The SWG is a global coalition of human rights, labor and environmental non-governmental organizations working together to develop and advocate for effective government policy and industry action to end the related problems of forced labor and illegal and unsustainable fishing practices in the international seafood trade.

ILRF and Global Labor Justice Are Joining Forces to Defend Worker Rights and Build Worker Power in the Global Economy

Today, I am excited to announce the merger of two allied organizations — the International Labor Rights Forum and Global Labor Justice.  Developed over many months with the strong support of our allies, board, and staff, our new partnership is coming together at a critical time.  As quite literally every person in the world faces a common threat in the form of a global pandemic, workers are simultaneously more isolated and connected than ever before.  At a time when state and corporate responses leave workers around the world in crisis — locked into dangerous working conditions or locked out of jobs with essential wages and benefits — it is clear we must work together to build durable transnational alliances that advance a new strategic vision with labor and human rights in the foreground. Progressive economy efforts can no longer be seen as a parochial, national issue. Transnational movements and strategic campaigns are fundamental to a future that includes decent work, development, and democracy in the U.S. and around the world.  Together we will strengthen the force behind these efforts by providing greater strategic capacity, support, and momentum.

Improving Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Communications with Stakeholders Must Be A Two-Way Channel

 

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released its report to the Chairman of the Committee on Natural Resources, House of Representatives, last week called “Forced Labor: Better Communication Could Improve Trade Enforcement Efforts Related to Seafood.” The overall recommendation is that CBP improve its communication with stakeholders about what information is needed for enforcement actions to be taken under Section 307 of the Tariff Act.  Yet the GAO remained silent on the need for CBP to be more transparent about their decision process, the enforcement actions they take and status of the petitions filed.

COVID-19 Impact on Migrant Workers in Thailand

The partial lockdown of Bangkok and order by the Thai Interior Ministry to close 18 border points taking effect on March 23 triggered a mass exodus of migrant workers from Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos, with estimates ranging between 60,000 and 200,000 people having left the country.  Few were able to practice social distancing in the crowded bus stations and border areas, raising fears of infection.

Fyffes’ Claims of Farm Safety in Honduras Should Not be Taken as Accurate

In the ongoing controversy about violations of labor rights and worker health and safety at its suppliers in Honduras, the multinational Fyffes fruit company has told The Progressive magazine “our farms have passed SMETA audits for safety, health, and worker wellbeing.”

This claim by Fyffes should not, and cannot, be taken as good coin, true and accurate. 

Sedex, the London-based consulting company that runs the SMETA program, states very clearly in the “FAQs” on its website the following:

Honduran Union Leader Threatened with Imprisonment

A union leader whom we work with in Honduras could be imprisoned for 30 years on bogus charges, pending a decision at a trial next Wednesday. Moises Sanchez is the Secretary General of the STAS union on Fyffes' melon farms in Honduras, where he worked from 1993 until 2016, when he was blacklisted for his union activity. In 2017, Moises was kidnapped, viciously attacked and threatened with death if he did not abandon the union fight.

Now he is facing spurious charges from a landowner – who also leases to Fyffes – after being part of a group of 450 community members who voted to build a road in their community, which the mayor supported and said was on public land.

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