Blog: April 2011

Human Rights Defender, Charles Hector, Sued Over Blog Exposing Labour Abuse

The punitive lawsuit against Mr. Charles Hector only accentuates the harsh reality of Burmese migrant workers in Malaysia, who do not speak the local language, face exploiting and indifferent employers and agents, unhelpful embassies, limited access to justice and collective bargaining and insufficient monitoring and protection from the authorities. Mr. Charles Hector advocates through a credible channel on complaints of rights abuses to the public and expresses the growing concern of conditions for millions of workers.

The Goals and Mechanism to Achieving Stability, Democracy and Peace among Workers in the Ivory Coast

The ongoing social, political and military conflict in the Ivory Coast has additionally shifted to political, ethnic and religious unrest. The Republic of Cote d’Ivoire has experienced two coups d’état and one civil war since it gained its independence in 1960 from France. Following the 2002-03 civil war, the West African country was spilt between the north and south. In 2000, Laurent Gbagbo, leader of the Ivorian Popular Front, replaced Guei as president. In 2003, Gbagbo and rebel leaders signed accords creating a “government of national unity,” although clashes between the two sides still continue.

Return Our Mural

One of the horrified passersby who witnessed this scene was another Rose, Rose Schneiderman. An immigrant like Rosie, Rose taught herself English while working in a sweatshop then began a life as an organizer for the International Ladies Garment Workers Union. She joined forces with the social reformer Frances Perkins (both are pictured in the eighth panel with the fire in the background), to press for the work protections we have come until recently to take for granted—limits on the length of the work week, restrictions on child labor, minimum wage, worker’s compensation, rules to assure a safe and healthful work environment. It was Rose Schneiderman who said, “What the woman who labors wants is the right to live, not simply exist. . . .

Bangladesh Fire Safety Strategy Continues

Next week, the surviving injured and the families of the deceased will receive a final payment of the compensation they are entitled to under the Spectrum Relief Scheme that was established by Inditex (Zara) and the ITGLWF. That same day, proposals for compensation for the Hameem workers will be discussed by all stakeholders concerned.

Urgent action remains necessary to ensure that the victims of Garib and Garib receive just and fair compensation, and most importantly that systemic measures are taken to prevent future tragedies.

“We Are One” rally recognizes Domestic and International struggle for Workers Rights

Although the rally was largely organized in light of the most recent attacks on US labor rights, the commitment to recognize a diverse group of individuals was evident. Participants could be heard chanting “The people, united, will never be defeated!” and held signs that read “I am a woman, I am a worker, we are one” and “I am a man, I am a worker, we are one”. A school teacher and a nurse were among those called to the stage to share their story, and the effect the latest attack on their rights will have on them and those they interact with on the job.

UFCW Local 1994 “We Are One” Event

Cuffie introduced Gino Renne, President of Local 1994, who spoke of the county budget issues in the larger context of the events in the Midwestern US.   He connected the current situation with the circumstances that led to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4, 1968.  King had gone to Memphis TN to support the largely African-American sanitation workers who were demanding union representation and the respect and dignity that would come with it.

Mexican Congress Rushes to Pass Regressive Labor Law

  • adjust hours regardless of a contract;
  • enter individual contracts instead of union contract;
  • pay less wages for unfairly dismissed workers;
  • engage with “protection contacts” that fragment democratic unions; and 
  • set arbitrary minimum wage and work condition standards without the possibility of review or objection.

The law would also make it even more difficult to certify democratic unions, further undermining the ability of workers to oppose abusive working conditions.

Sweatshop, Warehouse, Walmart: A Worker Truth Tour

If you were unable to attend, I’ve tried to capture some of the tonal qualities of the voices of those who talked about their experiences, with some of the key quotes:

Kalpona translated with conviction from her first language for the Bangladeshi workers. She knew her ability to communicate others’ stories across language barriers was the most important thing she could be doing right then. It was the only way we could hear firsthand the sweatshop conditions experienced by those working in garment factories subcontracted by Walmart.

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