Blog: June 2011

Business Tycoon in the Philippines Embroiled In Several Labor Disputes

The Eton 11 case is not the first-time the billionaire business tycoon Tan has been the subject of controversy stemming from the labor policies of one of his companies.  Tan also owns the Philippines Airline (PAL) which been has been involved in a dispute with its employees union, the PALE Employees Association or PALEA, over a plan to lay off nearly 2,600 workers and replace them with outsourced contract workers. In reaction to the very real possibility of a strike by the PALEA the state intervened under the Assumption of Jurisdiction Act placing a ban on the PALEA going on strike, as well as both sides taking actions that would worsen the dispute.

ILO convention supports growing domestic workers movement in the Dominican Republic

The struggle to guarantee basic, human rights for domestic workers is crucial to guaranteeing access to just and decent working conditions for all essential to achieving gender equality in the workplace, fundamental to working towards the recognition of migrant worker’s rights, and a critical step towards the abolition of child-labor. Dominican labor unions, working with domestic workers since 2008, have achieved what was before considered impossible. Today, domestic work is beginning to be treated as legitimate work not only by Dominican labor unions, but also by mainstream Dominican media outlets, and, perhaps most importantly, the workers themselves, who are increasingly organized.

The Exploitation of Domestic Child Labor; Enslaved in a System of Servitude

The treatment of women, men, and children who are subjected to forms of slavery and servitude are excluded from the right to bargain collectively under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).  Home health care workers are still excluded from both the minimum wage and overtime laws, and all live-in domestic workers are excluded from overtime pay under federal law. Domestic workers are not to be confused as ‘servants’ or ‘apart of the family,’ they are workers.  Employers frequently recruit children through commercial labor agencies or local vendors with personal connections with these children.

Bangladesh Labor Leaders Win One Case; Ten More Cases Still to Go

Ms. Akter served as proxy for the New York City Pension Fund, a Walmart shareholder, which proposed which proposed a shareholder resolution urging Walmart to require its suppliers to publish an annual, independently verifiable sustainability report. The  resolution did not pass, but received good coverage in The New York Times and other media.

Ms. Akter thanked New York City Comptroller, John Liu, for giving her this opportunity.  "It was a great opportunity to interact directly with decision-makers at Walmart like CEO Mike Duke,” Ms. Akter said after the shareholder meeting.  “Afterwards I spoke with several Walmart associates.  They told me things like, ‘Well said,’ ‘Great that you brought this issue here,' 'I appreciated hearing your story,' and 'I sympathize with you.'"

Organized Labor’s Role in Democratic Transitions

Arguments for labor repression continue to find sympathizers despite growth in democratic governance worldwide and the increasing legitimacy of core labor rights standards, as illustrated by the growing number of signatories to the International Labor Organization’s conventions. To many, the experiences of the “Asian Tigers” (Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea) suggest that labor repression is a necessary precondition to economic development even though there are a growing number of studies finding little correlation between labor repression and economic growth even in the East Asian context.

Contradictions on the Colombia Free Trade Agreement

It’s so wonderful that USTR believes that the Colombian government has demonstrated in the past two months that it is turning around on a dime to end violence and impunity and respect the basic rights of workers in Colombia after two decades of being the most dangerous country in which to be a trade unionist.  Oh, wait, maybe USTR is thinking about getting the free trade agreement passed and maybe it’s not an unbiased assessment.  The Obama Administration can’t argue that violence against trade unionists has declined since Candidate Obama defended his opposition to the Colombia trade agreement precisely because of the violence.

Alta Gracia: Bringing Living-Wage Union-Made Apparel to the Mainstream

Mitch Ellmauer, Intern, International Labor Rights Forum

Are you interested in sustainable, worker-oriented alternatives to sweatshops and exploitative labor practices in the developing world? Of course you are! So join us this Thursday at Busboys and Poets for a discussion on labor rights issues and learn about Alta Gracia, the only living-wage, union-made apparel brand in the developing world.

Hundreds of Youth Rally in NYC to Tell Hershey to Stop Child Labor

As part of its four and a half year independent assessment of company efforts to address this abuse in West Africa, Tulane University found that there are still hundreds of thousands of children involved in hazardous work conditions. The research team's top recommendation for chocolate companies is "to scale up its consumption -- and publicly commit to new procurement targets -- of product certified cocoa, specifically in the U.S. market." The rally at Hershey's Times Square store called on Hershey to do just that by starting to use Fair Trade Certified cocoa.


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