In the News

14,000 ‘Slaves’ Seek Relief

The Analyst

Few kilometers from the nation’s capital, Monrovia, sprawls the largest rubber plantation in the world, Firestone Plantations Company or FPCO.

Officially the plantation provides employment to some 6,000 plantation workers in several departments including medical, rubber processing, maintenance, and transportation, etc.

Firestone in Trouble Again in US Court for Practicing Slavery

Firestone, no doubt the largest rubber plantations in the world, is also regarded as the most stable investment in Liberia. Cultivated more than 70 years ago in what was then Marshall Territory for 99 years, Firestone has not only outlived most other European and U.S. investments in the country, but it has also provided employment to thousands of Liberians at any given time with many others receiving retirement and pension benefits, something which even critics say the government of Liberia, perhaps the largest employer is unable to do.

Firestone Mirred in Slave Labor Charges in Liberia

By Rodney D. Sieh

Since 1926, Liberia's Firestone Plantation in Harbel has been the leading source of revenue in Liberia. The bedrock of the American tire industry continues to flourish from the sweat of Liberians while the working conditions of those who produce the tires continue to raise eyebrows. Editor-in-Chief Rodney D. Sieh dissects the latest outcry against the American tire giant.

Rights group accuses Bridgestone

The Age

The International Labour Rights Fund has filed a federal lawsuit in the United States alleging workers at Bridgestone Corp's Firestone rubber plantation in Liberia toil in virtual slavery.

Firestone, which has operated a rubber plantation in Liberia since 1926, relies on a poverty stricken and often illiterate work force to tap tons of raw latex from rubber trees using primitive tools and methods that expose them to dangerous pesticides and fertilisers, the group said.

Workers share horror stories

The Daily Iowan

By Danny Valentine

Carpal tunnel syndrome, back problems, faulty equipment, and the inability to unionize were the problems plaguing Betty Fuentes, a Colombian flower-plantation worker.

Across the Atlantic Ocean, Clementine Mthethwa of Swaziland, a factory worker, complained of drinking water shared with toilets and a dearth of safety equipment.

The main characteristic the two workers share: They both work for companies providing products to Wal-Mart.

Levin Sees Little USTR Willingness to Compromise on Labor in FTAs

Inside US Trade

Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI) yesterday (Nov. 10) said despite efforts by officials from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to seek more support from Democrats for free trade agreements, USTR has shown little willingness to compromise on labor issues.

USTR has not offered to change its long-standing position that FTA labor provisions should only require a country to enforce its own labor standards, which Democrats have rejected as insufficient, he said in an interview.

A Return to Quotas

New York Times

By James Kanter and Keith Bradsher

LONDON, Nov. 8 - The trade agreement that the United States and China announced Tuesday, limiting China's clothing exports for the next three years, makes official what had already been happening: the return of quotas, at least for the world's largest textile and apparel power.

Was DiFi Batting for Big Oil?

East Bay Express

Human-rights groups delay Sen. Feinstein's surprise bid to gut key protections against corporate abuses abroad.

By Eliza Strickland

Residents of two villages attacked and burned by Nigerian troops protested Chevron's alleged complicity.

In the late afternoon of October 17, United States Senator Dianne Feinstein took an unlikely position, given her liberal Bay Area constituency. She introduced a Senate bill to amend the Alien Tort Claims Act, a law written in 1789 that lets foreigners sue in American courts.