On the night of 20 February a fire broke out and rapidly spread through the densely packed Chawkbazar district in Dhaka, Bangladesh. At least 70 people died in the fire that was exacerbated by illegally stored, highly combustible chemicals in the buildings. This horrible tragedy lays bare a pressing problem in Bangladesh: the use of residential buildings and areas for industrial purposes beyond the ready-made-garment industry, which creates serious safety hazards that remain as yet unchecked by national safety enforcement systems.
A fire in a Bangladeshi garment factory in Dhaka this week injured eight people, local media reports say. This tragic incident happened during a period of uncertainty and negotiation about the future of the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh: the one international safety programme that has significantly improved worker safety in the garment industry since the 2013 Rana Plaza collapse. This week’s fire confirms that, despite the Bangladesh government’s assertions to the contrary, national inspection bodies are not yet ready to take over this important work.
The safety program that has been instrumental in restoring international trust in its garment industry after the deadly Rana Plaza collapse of 2013 risks being expelled from the country without a credible alternative in place. Negotiations between signatories of the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety and the government of Bangladesh have grounded to a halt, as Bangladeshi authorities have thus far refused to accept any other outcome than a swift and unconditional handover of the Accord’s tasks to national inspection entities.
The International Labor Rights Forum’s new paper, “Future of Fashion: Worker-Led Strategies for Corporate Accountability in the Global Apparel Industry,” published today coinciding with the OECD Forum on Due Diligence in the Garment and Footwear Sector, calls attention to the failures of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and multistakeholder initiatives to address and remedy the persistent exploitation of millions of apparel industry workers.
Two weeks after Fyffes signed an agreement recognizing STAS (el Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Agroindustria y Similares) as the legitimate union representative of workers employed at Fyffes’ melon subsidiaries in Honduras, union members are reporting harassment and intimidation.
This week labor activists and trade unionists around the world are expressing their solidarity with garment workers in Bangladesh through demonstrations in front of Bangladeshi embassies and consulates in cities around the world. Through this week of global solidarity action, activists, unionists and consumers are calling for living wages, safe factories, and a halt to repression against garment workers in Bangladesh.
Miembros del sindicato a ser recontratados la proxima semana; la negociacion colectiva a empezar en febrero
El 11 de enero, Fyffes firmó un acuerdo que reconoce al STAS, el Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Agroindustria y Similares, como el legítimo representante sindical de lxs trabajadorxs empleados en las melóneras de Fyffes en Honduras.
Union members to be rehired next week; collective bargaining to commence in February
On January 11, Fyffes signed an agreement recognizing STAS – el Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Agroindustria y Similares – as the legitimate union representative of workers employed at Fyffes’ melon subsidiaries in Honduras. Fyffes is an Irish multinational company owned by the Japanese conglomerate Sumitomo, and one of the largest fruit brands in the world and the top importer of winter-season melons to the U.S. market.
Forty-six environmental groups, academic organizations, human rights organizations, labor unions, faith-based groups and other civil society organizations have vowed to oppose any “hateful rhetoric and acts of violence, intimidation or persecution” by the incoming government of Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, as they proclaim in an open statement today.
Uzbekistan’s 2018 cotton harvest, which concluded in all regions of the country the first week of December, showcased the enormous challenges in uprooting the country’s deeply entrenched forced labor system. Driven by a commitment to reform at the highest levels of the government, there is a significant transition underway, which is reflected in some encouraging signs of progress.
Following an open letter to Fair Trade USA signed by 25 human rights, labor rights, and faith-based organizations, Fair Trade USA has suspended Suragroh, a melon company in Honduras owned by Fyffes, one of the largest global fruit brands and the top importer of winter-season melons to the U.S. market.
On December 29, Thailand voted to ratify the International Labour Organization Convention on Work in Fishing (No. 188), a point that the International Labor Rights Form has campaigned for following the ILO’s adoption of the Convention in 2007. Thailand is the first Asian country to ratify the Convention. This Convention sets the bar that working conditions on Thai fishing vessels must meet and is an important step towards eliminating labor abuses in the supply chains of international brands sourcing seafood from Thailand.
Coalition of Unions, Advocates, Fair Trade Companies and Retailers Calls on Fair Trade Certifier to Decertify Fyffes’ Subsidiary for Labor Abuses
A coalition of unions, farmworkers, fair trade advocates, ethical businesses and retailers is confronting Fair Trade USA (FTUSA), a US-based fair trade certification agency, for ignoring human rights abuses and its own standards in certifying a Honduran melon grower with a long history of violations.