In the News

Labor supporters wary of trade pact

Houston Chronicle


Factory worker Norma Escobar suspected financial troubles at the Carolina Apparel plant in La Libertad, El Salvador, when her $30-a-week paychecks started arriving late.

Soon, the factory where pants, overalls and jeans were hastily fashioned by the nimble fingers of mostly female stitchers for U.S. retailers closed. It left 350 unemployed workers for the North Carolina company short nearly $80,000 in back wages and severance pay, according to Women's Edge Coalition, a human rights group.

Chiquita paid alleged terror groups


Banana producer says Colombian unit made protection payments to groups U.S. regards as terrorists.

(Reuters) - The U.S. government is investigating Chiquita Brands International Inc. for making "protection" payments to certain Colombian groups which the U.S. says are terrorist organizations, the company said Monday.

The announcement came on the same day the Cincinnati-based distributor of bananas and other fresh fruits reported first-quarter net income falling to $20 million, or 46 cents per share, from $25 million, or 62 cents, a year ago.

World's child workers speak out


By Frances Kennedy

In Rome

The first Children's World Congress on child labour opens in Florence on Monday. Some 246m children are estimated to be in full-time work worldwide

The conference - organised by trade unions and NGOs - intends to bring together current or former child workers and child activists to exchange ideas and put pressure on governments to combat child labour.

Flower workers deserve better

Chicago Sun Times


Roses are red, violets are blue;

The flowers you're getting on Mother's Day,

Are not just about you.

Those flowers are also about the thousands of mothers and young women in South America who are forced to work in horrendous conditions so we can have that bouquet of flowers on Mother's Day.

In the lead-up to Mother's Day when U.S. demand for fresh-cut flowers increases exponentially, women in South America are working as many as 60 hours per week, but are often denied overtime wages.

May Day: Trade Unions Around the World Call For Respect for Workers' Rights


Brussels, 30th April 2004

"In an era of prosperity for the few, the battle for full workers' rights for the majority is far from over. On the occasion of May Day (1st May), the international labour movement is calling for global solidarity which is ever more necessary against a backdrop of worldwide exploitation and abuse of workers" said Guy Ryder of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU).

Scale of African slavery revealed

BBC News

The trafficking of human beings is a problem in every African country, says the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef).

The report, which covers 53 African nations, says children are the biggest victims in what is a very complex phenomenon. It describes how they are forced into slavery, recruited as child soldiers or sold into prostitution.

In Africa, children are twice as likely to be trafficked as women.


Labor Rights Fund Hails Progress in Alien Tort Claims Act Suit Against Occidental Petroleum


US State Department’s Response to Judge Gives Green Light to Human Rights Case

April 6, 2004

A human rights case against Occidental Petroleum on behalf of Colombian villagers killed in an aerial bombing raid in 1998 overcame a major impediment last week thanks to a memo from the US State Department.