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Modern Day Slavery in Mexican Tomato Fields

If you haven’t seen or heard about it yet, stop what you’re doing and read the LA Times’ powerful series of articles on modern day slavery and other human rights abuses taking place in some of the giant Mexican tomato fields that supply Walmart, Safeway, Subway, Olive Garden, and other popular U.S. retailers and restaurants. 

The LA Times’ reporters visited 30 different mega-farms in nine different Mexican states, observing conditions first-hand and interviewing hundreds of workers and their family members. 

We’ve listed the main findings, taken directly from the report, below:

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).

This Thanksgiving week: act against child slavery in our food system!

It's Thanksgiving week, and we have a veritable feast of actions you can take on behalf of vulnerable workers!   

This week is both the inaugural End Child Slavery Week and 3rd annual International Food Workers Week. We promote both of these important initiatives, with their distinct but overlapping objectives, because they touch so many of our campaigns; especially the plight of children who labor on cocoa farms in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire.

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.

ILRF Board Member Kailash Satyarthi Wins Nobel Peace Prize

The International Labor Rights Forum congratulates Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai for winning the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of their struggle against the oppression of young people and exploitation of children for their labor, and for the right of all children to education.

Seventeen-year-old Malala is an incredibly inspiring role model for young women everywhere with her fearless advocacy against the Taliban's efforts to deny women an education.

$177/Month Demand Builds in Advance of Cambodian Wage Decision

Across Europe, North America, Australia, Asia, and in 19 cities across the U.S. and Canada, demonstrators stood up with Cambodian workers on September 17th to demand a more livable wage.  Cambodian workers and demonstrators throughout the world wore orange t-shirts with the demonstration logo to show solidarity. In Cambodia, workers waged demonstrations at 139 factories, while tens of thousands of workers demonstrated in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh. 

Twitter users around the world showed solidarity using the #WeNeed177 hashtag, referring to the workers’ demand of US$177per month. 

Justice for the Earth and all its workers

Today, hundreds of thousands of people are marching across the globe in a historic effort to demand action on climate change. The People's Climate March is a challenge to the world's leaders to focus on developing policies that will establish a more sustainable world. At ILRF, we work closely with environmental groups to include labor rights as part of the sustainability agenda. We have found time and again that corporate practices that allow unchecked exploitation of environmental resources also lead to exploitation of communities and people.

Second Anniversary of Baldia Factory Fire Tragedy

Two years ago on September 11, 2012, a third-degree fire broke out at Ali Enterprises, a garment factory in the industrial area Karachi, in which 259 workers perished alive. It was one of the most devastating fire tragedies of known industrial history. The tragedy sparked a debate, but unfortunately on too small a scale, on one of the most neglected but important issues: workplace safety and working conditions of the working class. But as usual, soon after the tragic inferno, the issue of workers was dumped, forgotten due to other thorny issues confronting our country.
 
The second anniversary of the “Baldia Factory Fire Tragedy” is the right time to revisit the conditions and situation under which Pakistan's workforce of 60 million is compelled to work.

Baldia Town factory fire victims still without compensation

Despite repeated appeals by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), families and garment workers affected by the fire, and trade unions, the government, judicial commission and concerned authorities are still not paying attention to the demands of the victims’ families.

During a blaze at Ali Enterprises garment factory in Baldia Town, Karachi, on September 11, 2012, 259 workers were burned to death.  The affected families are still waiting for compensation.

Fighting the labor law rollback in Peru

When the U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement (PTPA) entered into force in 2009, it was presented as a major step forward for protecting international labor rights.  Unlike prior trade agreements, most notably DR-CAFTA, the PTPA required both parties not only to enforce their existing labor laws, but also to adopt and maintain laws consistent with 1998 ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and not weaken labor laws in an effort to stimulate the economy or attract foreign direct investment. 

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