Blog: October 2009

Thoughts from Kenya: It is time for a workers bailout!

The possible effects of the recession are not new to Kenyans.  We have had several recessions in this country.  In the 1990s, liberalization coupled with bad governance and corruption crippled agricultural and manufacturing sectors that had been in recession since 1986.  As a result, Kenyans experienced reduced access to basic social services due to decreased government revenue allocations, rising levels of unemployment especially among women, development of precarious forms of livelihoods in the informal and formal sectors, de-industrialization, reduction of workers' earnings and loss of state revenues.  And to bail out the investors, the government relaxed control and regulation.  Most notable was the amendments in the Finance Act No.

Dole Food Company Goes Public: The Importance of Socially Responsible Investing

In Columbia, Dole workers have struggled to exercise their right to organize.  In 2004, Dole’s subsidiary, Dole Fresh Flowers, fought a multi-year battle to replace the independent union of cut-flower workers on its Colombia plantations, Sintrasplendor, with a separate company-friendly union, Sinaltralflor, which failed to improve conditions for its workers.

Dole Foods Recent Growth Marred by Allegations of Violence and Intimidation

Recently, Chiquita Brand International and its executives agreed to a plea deal with the US Department of Justice after coming forward to admit that it had funded organization accused of killing trade union leaders. Chiquita was able to escape any serious criminal liability by agreeing to pay a $25 million fine. 

How much should you value a corporation’s respect for freedom of speech?

According to Dole, a reporter for a local news magazine in Mindanao, Periodico Banat, wrote an article about a day-long prayer rally by Amado Kadena-KMU, the Kilusang Mayo Uno -affiliated union formed by Dole’s roughly 4500 rank-and-file full-time workers in Polomolok. At the rally, workers gathered to give public speeches to support their on-going contract negotiations with Dole management. The workers and Dole had been locked contentious negotiations where the side were far apart.

Dole Goes to the NY Stock Exchange but will This Mean Anything for Workers?

Many workers who produce for Dole are paid poverty-level wages, exposed to hazardous chemicals and obligated to work overtime hours without proper compensation. Dole also has been pushing workers out of full-time employment, which carries with it some measure of financial security, and into irregular contract work.

Demonstrating against Child Labor in Uzbekistan’s Cotton Fields

After marching, representatives from several of the groups participating in the demonstration gave speeches.  ILRF’s Executive Director Bama Athreya, George Washington University student Amanda Formica affiliated with United Students for Fair Trade, Stan Gacek of the AFL-CIO, Sally Greenburg of the National Consumers LeagueIMG00256

Khalid Mahmood Speaks Out on Labor Unions in Pakistan

The Labor Education Foundation (LEF) was established in 1993 with a vision of “empowering the working class to protect its social, economic and political rights.” It also works to promote democratic norms, peaceful relations between Pakistan and India, and literacy among youth and trade union members. It helps to establish and finance new trade unions, and to nationalize current unions. There are 8,000 registered unions, but only three have nationwide representation. The majority are factory based, localized, and divided. The LEF works to unify the scattered unions and nationalize their collective voice. 

How to be a Socially Responsible Shopper

The International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) works to protect the rights of workers throughout the world and you can help us in our cause by supporting companies that treat workers fairly. Below are some suggestions to help you find out what companies produce goods in accordance with international fair labor standards. These standards include things such as ensuring workers are treated with respect and dignity, work under healthy and safe conditions, and earn wages and benefits sufficient to support the basic needs of their families.


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