The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states that “everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests” (Article 23, Section 4). As human rights advocates around the world celebrate International Human Rights Day, the International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) has released “Working for Scrooge: 5 Worst Companies for the Right to Associate” – a list of the five worst multinational corporations for union organizing. The US-based companies on ILRF’s list use intimidation and even violence to violate their workers’ internationally recognized right to organize.
Despite the labor rights protections in the UDHR, UN and ILO declarations and national labor laws, workers continue to see their rights trampled on a daily basis. In fact, in its recently released survey of violations of trade union rights, the International Trade Union Confederation reports at least 91 unionists were killed globally as a result of their organizing efforts in 2007.
The companies on this year’s list include: Nestlé, Dole, Del Monte, Russell and Wal-Mart.
A trusted family-brand in the U.S., Nestlé’s true impact overseas involves a long history of union intimidation and ties to murders of trade unionists.
Considering its operations in the two most dangerous countries for trade unionists, it is no surprise that Dole has been accused of illegal measures to prevent union formation.
Similar to Dole, Del Monte’s production in Latin America has been tied to severe intimidation as well as the deaths of several union leaders.
Russell/Fruit of the Loom
As recently as over a month ago, the announced closure of a Russell/Fruit of the Loom factory marks another unlawful attempt to scare off union members.
Throughout the United States and Canada to the Philippines and Cambodia, Wal-mart’s violations against union organization span the globe.