Blog: Violence Against Trade Unions

87th Labor Leader Murdered in Guatemala Since 2004

Para una version en español, haga clic aquí.

In Guatemala, defending your rights at work can cost you your life. Workers who speak out against wage theft, exploitation and anti-union discrimination run the risk of facing serious retaliation, including intimidation, threats, physical violence, kidnappings and even murder.

 In Guatemala, violence against worker rights defenders is the norm, not the exception. Since 2004, 87 labor leaders have been murdered, a reality that makes Guatemala one of the most dangerous countries in the world to be a trade unionist.

Honduran Women Farm Workers Are Fighting Back Against Fyffes Company’s Abuses

On the morning of December 3rd, in Choluteca, Honduras, 14 women melon workers had to be hospitalized after their exposure to toxic chemicals on a Suragroh melon plantation owned by the Irish food and fresh produce multinational Fyffes.  None of the 150 workers sickened that day were provided with the necessary safety gear to protect them.  One of the victims, who asked to remain anonymous, told a local newspaper

The TPP's dirty labor laundry

The Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) is being touted as a “21st century” trade agreement that will contain strong and enforceable labor standards to ensure our trade partners honor their promise to uphold workers’ fundamental rights.  

But if history is any guide, labor rights advocates should remain deeply skeptical of any such claims.

Legislation introduced in April aims to provide the President with trade promotion authority (aka “fast track”), a procedure that requires Congress to vote on proposed trade deals with limited debate and no opportunity to offer amendments.

Justice delayed…the long road of the Guatemala CAFTA complaint

In September, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) announced that it will finally proceed to arbitration against the Government of Guatemala, more than six years after a complaint was filed alleging that Guatemala was violating the labor standards contained in the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA).

Arrest of Philippines labor leader denounced

The Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) today condemned the arrest of the union leader at the Carmen Copper Corp. in Toledo City, Cebu, one of the biggest mines in Asia. Tony Cuizon, president of the Panaghiusa sa Mamumuo sa Carmen Copper (PAMCC-AGLO), was arrested last October 25, 2014 in Cavite on the strength of warrants for illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

Renato Magtubo, PM national chairperson, called for the release of Cuizon, a PM national council member, as the arrest warrants, criminal cases and police raids were in violation of existing guidelines in the conduct of police during labor disputes.

Progress in Bangladesh?

After 30 years of unsafe and abusive conditions, consistent repression of union organizing, and the lowest wages in the world, Bangladesh’s apparel industry is today the testing ground for massive industry reform initiatives.   The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, a legally-binding agreement between 180 apparel companies and 12 unions, has introduced accountability and transparency in an industry where social responsibility has meant voluntary efforts and private reporting.  The U.S. Government has appropriately demanded genuine freedom of association as a condition of trade benefits under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) in a country where labor leaders and union members have been fired, harassed, imprisoned, tortured, and even killed with impunity.

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