Blog: February 2010

Time to Strike and Time for Change: The Labor Protests in Egypt and Beyond

It resulted from the combined effects of authoritarian control and the liberalization policy. Despite its republic appearance, Egypt is an authoritarian state. The government exerts very restrictive control over civil society. Even though Egypt ratified core ILO conventions decades ago as listed in the following table, words have not been transformed into action. For instance, the government continues to suppress workers’ rights such as freedom of association and the right to organize and collective bargain. All NGOs are required to register with the Ministry of Social Solidarity. Permission from the Ministry of the Interior is required for any public meetings, and rarely given.

Oprah's Godiva Love Fest

Other chocolate companies have gone much farther in ensuring transparency in their cocoa sourcing and supporting better conditions for cocoa farmers.  For example, Divine Chocolate is Fair Trade certified and is even co-owned by the democratic cooperative in Ghana that produces its cocoa, Kuapa Kokoo.  Equal Exchange sources cocoa beans from Fair Trade cooperatives in Latin America and its operations in the US are run by a worker-owned cooperative.  More and more big companies like Green & Black's and

Demand that Your Tax Dollars Don't Support Sweatshops (and learn a thing while doing it!)

For example, in the King’s Land factory located in Cambodia, which produces for Walmart among others, workers get paid roughly $50 a month, however the daily pay can fluctuate from $1.08 to $2.16 a day.  That is far below a living wage or even a minimum wage; that is a poverty wage.  At the Menderes Tekstil factory in Turkey, which produces for IKEA, Walmart, Carrefour, Horizante, Mothercare, Otto, Ibena, Target and Kohl's, four workers have been killed due to unsafe working conditions.  In one incident a worker died when he fell into the fun

A Dark Cloud Overshadowing the Legitimate Union Struggle in Colombia

Commonly, the media offers propaganda that blames unions for corporate bankruptcies, or associates them, without basis, with dark forces. In September 2008, when almost ten thousand sugar cane cutters went on strike asking for better working conditions, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, without evidence, said that the FARC guerrilla infiltrated the sugar cane strike (in Spanish). These kinds of official statements are extremely irresponsible and dangerous, because they not only undermine the credibility of legitimate union struggles but also lead to justify -albeit indirectly- union violence.

How to Truly Appreciate Your Valentine’s Day Flowers

Colombia is the biggest exporter of flowers to the United States.  According to the association of Colombian flower exporters, Asocolflores, about 80% of the flowers currently imported to the U.S. are from Colombia. Over the last few months, nearly 200,000 Colombian flower workers have been working 12-16 hour days to meet demands, picking on average 350 flowers per hour.       

Justice Denied to Karnation Factory Workers in the Philippines: Will Fred's and Other Buyers Take Action

More than two years after going on strike, the “Karnation 20,” a group of striking union factory workers, are still fighting the Philippines slow judicial system and their former employer, Karnation Industries and Export Inc.  The strikers have been awaiting justice in jail for far too long.  What was their crime?  According to factory management, the workers had padlocked the gate of the factory while protesting although the workers deny this.  Karnation Industries also has provided a picture

Responding to Bridgestone/Firestone

Firestone is correct that "the amount of work that each employee is expected to complete, as well as the conditions of that work, is established through negotiations between the company and FAWUL [the Firestone Agricultural Workers Union of Liberia." In fact, FAWUL and the company are negotiating a new contract right now.  Consumers around the world who e-mailed Firestone are encouraging Firestone to use these negotiations as an opportunity to finally end the exploitative and unpopular system of transporting latex on the plantation.

We expect Firestone to continue to negotiate with the union in good faith.  We encourage the company management to take a leadership role in implementing safer and less burdensome systems for workers.

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