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Event  Description
June 19, 2024, marks the fifth anniversary of the adoption of ILO Convention (C190), the first international treaty to address violence and harassment in the world of work. This event marks the celebration of the five-year journey of C190 and focuses on the importance of bridging labor and women’s rights movements to address gender-based violence and harassment (GBVH) in the world of work, by exploring links between care, labor, and GBVH. The speakers and respondents will include representatives from different sectors and geographic regions including philanthropy, governments, civil society organizations and UN mechanisms.

Co-sponsored by: Global Labor Justice (GLJ), Solidarity Center, Asia Floor Wage Alliance (AFWA), Bangladesh Center for Workers Solidarity (BCWS), Feminist Alliance for Rights (FAR), Human Rights Watch, International Domestic Workers Federation (IDWF), International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), and UNI Global Union.

This work is made possible with the support of the Ford Foundation.

 

Message from the Executive Director: A new Global Labor Justice, building momentum for a more just global economy

Thank you for those who join us for the 2024 Global Labor Rights Defenders Celebration on May 1, International Workers’ Day.  Together with workers, their unions, allies, and labor rights defenders around the world, we are building momentum for a more just global economy.

With that momentum, we announce that going forward, we will be known as Global Labor Justice. 

Under this banner, we will continue to weave together and build on all of our organizational history to deliver bold new strategies that help workers win across the challenges inherent in global value chains and across labor migration corridors.  

The International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) was founded almost 40 years ago by Pharis Harvey and a progressive coalition of labor, human rights, faith, and policy leaders confronting the effects of economic globalization on workers and committed to building human rights and labor rights into U.S. trade and development policy. ILRF led several successful campaigns to secure labor rights guarantees under U.S. trade laws and trade agreements and ensure that labor rights are prioritized in the transformation of the global economy, working with allies in the US and around the world.

Under the leadership of Steve Coats in the 1990s, the US/Guatemala Labor Education Project expanded its geographic focus to promoting full respect for labor rights globally and securing economic justice for workers in Latin America and the Caribbean. In 1998, the organization changed its name to the US Labor Education in the Americas Project (US LEAP) to reflect this broader mandate. The US LEAP program merged with ILRF after Steve’s untimely death in 2013. Today, US LEAP continues to lead advocacy for Central American workers organizing in the supply chains of US corporations and Steve’s legacy continues to inform our history and practice.

Global Labor Justice was established in 2017 by labor movement partners in the Global South and lawyers, organizers and advocates rooted in the worker center movement in the US. As their fights encountered the global economy, they saw an urgent need to expand the strategies and resources available to movements in the US and around the world. With the support of Jobs with Justice, they built a structure that connected law, policy and research with campaigns to organize workers across value chains of globally traded products and services.

Unifying the three pillars of our shared origins strengthens our foundation to advance worker organizing and hold governments, employers, multinationals, and investors accountable to fundamental labor rights.
 

We know that labor rights defenders in many countries organize in the face of immense risks. IUF and ITUC affiliate LRSU President sister Chhim Sithar remains in detention in Cambodia with other union leaders charged and convicted for organizing over wages and mass retrenchments at NagaWorld in Cambodia. Workers at the Sheraton Grand and Onomo hotels in Conakry are fighting job loss, subcontracting, and other retaliatory actions in response to their organizing which the development banks have yet to remedy. Migrant fishers face deportation threats for participating in organizing even in response to egregious occupational safety and health violations. These are just a few examples.   

Today we are here to honor their commitments and pledge our support.  

And still in the face of these obstacles, workers and their movements are having an impact. With IUF and its affiliates, workers are organizing to win collective bargaining and demanding accountability for labor rights from development finance institutions that invest in the hotel sector. Workers at the Marriott Ciela Hotel in Lusaka, Zambia have won their union after years of campaigning. In Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, the Cotton Campaign works to ensure labor rights defenders and monitors can expose the truth of cotton harvest conditions without retaliation and advocates for workers’ access to fundamental labor rights.  

Dalit women workers are transforming their workplace after the signing of the landmark Dindigul Agreement to End Gender-Based Violence and Harassment with their union TTCU and the Asia Floor Wage Alliance. Together, they have joined with the ITUC, the International Domestic Workers’ Alliance, Justice for Migrant Women, UNI, and unions around the world to build momentum towards the fifth anniversary of ILO Convention 190 and thirtieth anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.

In countries around the world, workers are coming together. Their agency reminds us how to live into existence the beautiful future that working people and their communities deserve: resistance that is joyful and powerful, actions that are magnificent and fierce, and transformative visions for generations to come.

And so, we again ask for your continued solidarity over the next year–with the Indonesian migrant fishers of FOSPI on the Taiwanese fleet who have launched the global WI-FI Now for Fishers Rights! Campaign with ITF, IUF, and faith, digital, and human rights allies calling on governments and supply chain actors to treat fishers as workers with labor rights; with the more than 1,000 seasonal farmworkers in Honduras and members of IUF affiliate Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Agroindustria y Similares (STAS) who have petitioned for job security, labor rights, and freedom from retaliation at multinational fruit corporation Fyffes; with garment worker members of AFWA partner unions across Asia in the Fight the Heist campaign, demanding Nike end stock buybacks and take responsibility for unpaid wages during the Covid-19 pandemic with the support of IPS, CWA, SEIU, RWDSU, Take on Wall Street, and the AFL-CIO; with the labor monitors in Uzbekistan trained by Uzbek Forum and the Central Asia Labor Rights Monitoring Mission whose work anchors real change in the lives of cotton farm workers; with the AFL-CIO, PowerSwitch Action, and other unions, community groups, athletes’ unions, LGBTQ+ rights groups across North America who are joining under the Dignity 2026 campaign to demand that the World Cup respect labor and human rights; and with IUF and hotel workers around the world, with solidarity from UNITE-HERE, demanding that multilateral development banks ensure that the labor rights they promise on paper reach into the hotels where they work.

At Global Labor Justice, our vision is clear. All workers–employees, contract workers, platform workers, etc.–deserve a living wage, safe and healthy working conditions, and a social contract. Freedom of association must be a given, and structural obstacles to participation and leadership like gender-based violence and harassment in the workplace must be eliminated. Workplace democracy and trade unions are not only central to a democratic society and a just economy–they are also vital to  pushing back against authoritarian measures that are designed to limit participation. Together we can build the power of working people in opposition to corporate greed and growing anti-democratic, racist, and xenophobic forces.

In the next year we will challenge the supply chain business model that extracts wealth from developing countries and their structurally vulnerable workforces. We will fight migration policies  that exacerbate worker vulnerability and deliver them to the bottom of those supply chains. And we will continue to counter the disempowering effects of financialization on the global workforce that have gone unchallenged for decades by building a transnational movement that understands how capital moves and organizes where workers live and work.

Together with labor rights defenders around the world, Global Labor Justice is building momentum for a more just global economy. We thank you for your support, and we ask for your ongoing solidarity in 2024 and beyond.  

Jennifer (JJ) Rosenbaum

Executive Director
Global Labor Justice

September 19, 2023

As the Oversight Committee of the Dindigul Agreement, we welcome the first annual report from the labor stakeholders to the Dindigul Agreement, which covers the initial impacts and progress of the Agreement and was delivered to us and made public in June 2023. 

The Oversight Committee is encouraged by the findings documented in the labor  stakeholders’ report, which was achieved with the cooperation of Eastman Exports. We are also very encouraged by the women workers who testify in the report that with the implementation of the Dindigul Agreement, they can safely report grievances, including those related to Gender-based Violence and Harassment (GBVH), without fear of retaliation. The implementation encompasses core principles, definitions, and standards  from ILO C190 on ending violence and harassment in the world of work and ILO C87 and C98 on freedom of association that are embedded in the Dindigul Agreement. The labor stakeholders’ report suggests that under the Dindigul Agreement, parties are effectively able to detect, remediate, and prevent GBVH.  

According to the labor stakeholders’ report, Tamil Nadu Textile and Common Labour Union (TTCU) led the Gender-based Harassment and Violence and peer education training of over 2000 workers and management. TTCU also recruited and trained 58 workers as shop floor monitors who were recognized by Eastman, to monitor and help remediate gender-based violence and harassment throughout the factory units and beyond. TTCU further held over 30 meetings with management to resolve grievances. 

Based on the labor stakeholders’ report, the Oversight Committee believes that with full cooperation from all parties to the agreement, the Dindigul Agreement can continue to advance progress on identifying, remediating, and preventing gender-based violence and harassment for the thousands of women workers at the covered worksites in the coming years. The Oversight Committee will continue to play a role in supporting the fulfillment of the commitments in the Agreement to drive further achievements moving forward.

Oversight Committee Members 

Affirmations:

Krishanti Dharmaraj | Independent Chair
Anannya Bhattacharjee| Asia Floor Wage Alliance (AFWA)
Cibi Karthic | Eastman Exports
Komala Ramachandra | Gap Inc.
Sharmila Nithyanand | Gap Inc.
Jennifer (JJ) Rosenbaum | Global Labor Justice – International Labor Rights Forum (GLJ – ILRF)
Hari Kumar | H & M Group
Nikesh Raj | H & M Group
Thivya Rakini | Tamil Nadu Textile and Common Labour Union (TTCU)  

Brand Signatory Affirmation: 

H & M Group
Gap Inc.
PVH Corp.

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63,000 work at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, and 50,000 work at Toronto’s Lester B. Pearson International Airport, making it Canada’s largest worksite.  Principally focused on airports large enough to host the upcoming 2026 FIFA World Cup, hosted in North America, this GLJ-IRLF report describes U.S. airport governance, airport jobs, airport employers, and policy tools for improving the quality of the work that makes air transportation possible.  Its purpose is to acquaint the reader with the realities and opportunities of airport work, noting the great strides workers, their organizations, and their allies have recently made in improving the quality of jobs at airports.  The report also looks ahead to the 2026 FIFA World Cup, briefly surveying the opportunities and challenges these games present to North American airport workers.

Download the report: https://globallaborjustice.org/making-airports-work-for-airport-workers/

In a month FIFA will be making its final city selection for the North American 2026 World Cup which will take place with games in the U.S., Mexico, and Canada. FIFA and the World Cup’s dismal record on human rights, from Qatar to Brazil to South Africa and prioritization of corporate sponsors over communities and workers impacted has tarnished the internationally-beloved game of football. 

As planning for the World Cup to be held in North America in 2026 gets under way, there has never been a more important time to put pressure on FIFA to set and abide by minimum labor and human rights standards. FIFA’s recent unprecedented action to ban Russia from the 2022 World Cup demonstrates that they are not impervious to pressure from a growing movement of fans, athletes, workers and communities of solidarity across national borders. 

FIFA is set to generate around $7 billion from #WorldCup2026, but the thousands of workers who will make the event possible currently earn the U.S. federal minimum wage of just $7.25 an hour. GLJ-ILRF is joining a coalition of labor, human rights, environmental and other organizations concerned with FIFA’s social impact to demand it uphold fair human rights and labor standards for these mostly black, brown, and immigrant workers and for all who will be impacted by the World Cup games in host cities in the US, Mexico, and Canada. Instead of a race to the bottom, FIFA must raise labor standards, just as it purports to uphold the values of fair play in football. 

The coalition is calling on FIFA to uphold its commitments to human and labor rights in the 2026 World Cup and seeks to transform the organization into a globally responsible steward of human rights and dignity both on and off the field. It is time we take the game of football back.

You can join us in taking action right now, by signing the petition: https://act.aflcio.org/letters/fifa/

A report detailing the limited successes and multiple failures of the International Finance Corporation was launched today by the Global Labor Justice-International Labor Rights Forum (GLJ-ILRF) and the IUF. “Hotel Workers’ Rights in Development Finance: Realizing Performance Standard 2” explores cases in which the IFC failed routinely to perform due diligence and enforce the labor rights standards required of its clients. It also outlines a proposed policy, the Compliance Accountability Policy, which would require IFC clients to negotiate with unions before an investment in hotels is approved. 

IUF affiliates from Senegal, Guinea and Zambia spoke about the IFC-funded hotel projects in their countries and the challenges they faced in dealing with the employers:

Cheikh Makébé Sylla, Health and Safety Coordinator for the IUF in Senegal, spoke about their affiliates’ success negotiating with Kasada Hospitality Fund, which received more than 400 million USD from the IFC to acquire numerous Accor hotels in West Africa.

Michelo Chizyuka, President of HCTAWUZ, Hotel, Catering, Tourism and Allied Workers of Zambia, shared how the complaints over four IFC-funded Marriott hotels in Zambia led to an election and union recognition at the Ciela Resort by Marriott in Lusaka while workers at the other three Marriotts continue to experience anti-union harassment.

Asmaou Bah Doukouré, General Secretary of FHTRC, Federation de l’Hotellerie, Tourisme, Restauration et Brances Connexes, discussed the IFC’s investment in the Sheraton Grand Conakry, the worst case scenario which shows why the Compliance Accountability Policy is needed.

D. Taylor, President of UNITE HERE, described the importance of early engagement with hotel owners to ensuring respect for workers’ rights once the hotel is built and reiterated UNITE HERE’s commitment to working with the IUF to hold hotel employers and development banks accountable

GLJ-ILRF and IUF will continue to work with affiliates to campaign for workers’ rights across the hotel sector and in hotels funded by development banks.

IUF General Secretary Sue Longley stated, “Our Compliance Accountability Policy, if adopted, would ensure the IFC and its hotel clients have access to the knowledge, expertise, and experience of the global labor movement and our local affiliates.  IFC bank loan recipients would understand from the beginning that labor rights are central to the IFC’s development mission, that preferential loan terms and labor rights are inextricably linked, and that the IFC is far more likely to achieve its desired development impact if trade unions are engaged at the early stages of the loan process.”

Hotel-Workers-Rights-in-Development-Finance-REPORT

Today, Global Labor Justice– International Labor Rights Forum joins the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF) in standing with a new trade union coalition in Guinea that includes the hotel workers, mining workers, teachers, bankers, and other members of the Confederation of Guinean Unions (CSTG).

On the one-year anniversary of their retaliatory terminations, the new trade union coalition came togetherunder the banner “Work Justice and Solidarity” and publicly demanded that the Marriott Sheraton Palma Guinea in Conakry reinstate General Secretary Amadou Diallo and Deputy General Secretary Alhassane Diallo of the Fédération de l’Hôtellerie, Touristique, Restauration et Branche Connexe (FHTRC-ONSLG) and return to good faith bargaining. And they pledged support and solidarity actions until the union leaders are reinstated.

GLJ-ILRF along with the IUF and ITUC have advocated for the International Finance Corporation to use its leverage to ensure freedom of association and collective bargaining as guaranteed by the IFC’s labor performance standards.

IUF General Secretary Sue Longley stated, “Despite COVID-19, Ebola and the recent coup d’état, the workers at the Sheraton Grand Conakry have shown Topaz Group, Marriott and the IFC that they will not stop fighting until their two union leaders are reinstated and the freedom of association is guaranteed for all workers across Guinea.”

GLJ-ILRF Executive Director Jennifer (JJ) Rosenbaum said: “Marriott’s general manager fired these worker leaders to chill protected union organizing at the hotel among the workers and to disempower collective action to improve working conditions at the hotel and more broadly.

But in the face of this retaliation, the Guinean trade union movement grows stronger and more unified. At GLJ-ILRF we repeat the demand that the hotel owner Topaz Group and the hotel manager Marriott corporation reinstate these trade union leaders and ensure the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining going forward.

And we urge the IFC to work with the ITUC, the IUF, and us on a systematic approach to labor violations in IFC funded hospitality projects as well as other sectors so the jobs created meet decent work standards. It is time for the World Bank and IFC along with the U.S. and other directors to take more decisive action to ensure protect the role organized workers and trade unions must play in the current COVID-19 economy and recovery at the national and global level. This includes making them an integral part of the dialogue with the IFC and its loan recipients and responding swiftly to remedy reprisals.”

November 17th, 2021

Union organizing isn’t a game. Well actually, now it is!

Today, GLJ-ILRF and UNI Americas launched Union Drive, the first video game developed as a tool to teach the fundamentals of union organizing.

Over 80 union leaders, organizers and activists from Latin America and around the world attended our launch event to learn more about this interactive, educational tool. We will continue hosting events and trainings for unions and organizers to learn more about Union Drive.

This video game is an innovative new tool and part of GLJ-ILRF’s 2022 plans to expand global campaign development through intensive organizing training. 

In this virtual adventure, you work at a local supermarket. Yesterday 20 of your coworkers were fired. Now is the time to take collective action and secure protections for you and your coworkers.

To get there, you’ll need to lead tough conversations with your coworkers, build trust, agitate, and organize!

“UNI and our affiliates are figuring out ways to use new media to reach more workers and bring them into unions,” said Marcio Monzane, General Secretary of UNI Americas. “This game is an exciting new tool to recruit young workers throughout the Americas.”

Over the past decade, “digital natives” have entered the labor force in every sector. This generation of workers learns and communicates through visual and interactive technological experiences. While no technology can replace the power of one-on-one organizing and relationships among coworkers, labor leaders should follow an old adage of organizing – meet workers where they are. These days, young workers are on their smartphones. 

“Union Drive is a tool and tactic to help us get better organized to take on global capital, which is very well organized”, said Valery Alzaga, GLJ-ILRF’s Deputy Director, “we in labor need to be relevant, digitally smart and present”.

This game will help reach young people who are already leading many movements across the world. “We hope to spark interest in union organizing among young activists.”, said Noah Dobin-Bernstein from GLJ-ILRF, “There have been massive protests and youth uprisings in Chile, Colombia and around the world. We want the young people who are leading those fights to join the labor movement”.

For more information and to get access to the game please email Noah Dobin-Bernstein: noah@globallaborjustice.org

January 5th, 2022

The following is a statement from GLJ-ILRF, Asia Floor Wage Alliance and the Tamil Nadu Textile and Common Labour Union (TTCU):

This week marks the one-year anniversary of the horrific murder of Jeyasre Kathiravel, a young Indian Dalit woman, a student and an organizer against gender-based violence and harassment at a large Indian garment manufacturer sourcing to major U.S. and European fashion brands. Jeyasre was murdered by her supervisor after facing months of sexual harassment.

On this painful anniversary we stand with Jeyasre’s family, her loved ones, and all of her fellow union members of TTCU, as we honor her life by steadfastly working to transform her former factory into a space free of gender-based violence, harassment and discrimination based on caste or status as migrants. 

The push for change at Jeyasre’s supplier has advanced significantly. This has been possible in part because of the massive outpouring of solidarity including from unions from over 30 countries, women’s rights organizations, Dalit rights organizations, retail workers, models, immigrant rights advocates, and so many more who met with members of the campaign and committed to support the push for structural changes in the fashion supply chain.

We are working closely with several brands and the supplier to reach an agreement to prevent and remediate gender-based violence and harassment and encourage freedom of association at the supplier factories. We acknowledge the steps that these brands and the supplier are taking towards this, including the gesture by the supplier to commemorate the tragic death of Jeyasre by providing educational scholarships to children of garment workers in Jeyasre’s factory. 

We will announce the results of our negotiations at the end of this month. 

We call on our friends and allies to honor the life of Jeyasre by continuing to stand in solidarity with her and her fellow garment workers who are organizing for an end to gender-based violence and harassment not only in Tamil Nadu but across fashion supply chains globally. 

January 27th, 2022

This week international attention is on Honduras as U.S. Vice President Harris visits the country for the inauguration of Xiomara Castro, Honduras’ first woman President, elected on a platform of tackling the enormous inequalities that have historically plagued the country. Much of the attention will be focused on Honduras’ relationship with the United States, and the Biden administration’s desire to address root causes of migration. Castro’s presidency offers tremendous hope for Hondurans on many levels but key to the question of migration is in their fight to expand labor rights and raise their standard of living in a country where nearly half the population lives below the poverty line.

In the 13 years since the 2009 coup that overthrew the presidency of her husband Jose Manuel Zelaya and ushered in an era of massive labor abuse and impunity for violence against human rights and labor rights defenders, Honduran workers have struggled to organize despite the political and economic forces aligned against them.

For example, in Choluteca, in the south of the country, it’s been over six long years since workers tried to unionize to end abusive conditions in the melon fields, and over a year since billion dollar global agricultural giant Fyffes (owned by Japanese multinational Sumitomo) came to the table to negotiate. To date, no agreement has been signed, and many key worker leaders with the union, Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Agroindustria y Similares (STAS), have been locked out of jobs with chances of employment diminishing by the day as the harvest season progresses. In December, frustrated with Fyffes’ failure to move forward and its ongoing discrimination against STAS-affiliated worker leaders, union members protested in front of Fyffes offices in Choluteca. 

This week STAS called on the incoming administration to take decisive steps to ensure labor rights: “We only hope that the new president will remove [the current local ministry of labor officials]…because they marginalized us and conspired with the company and they’ve destroyed workers’ chances here in the southern region. The Ministry of Labor’s policies support the companies who abuse and mistreat workers in this country,” said STAS leader Moisés Sánchez.

Despite Castro’s election victory, even before she assumed office, a move by representatives of the old political elite to retain leadership of the national congress has brought residents into the streets of the capital city Tegucigalpa. Popular protests have broken out against this attempt to wrest legislative power from Castro’s Libre party that threatens her policy agenda, including expanding protections for workers and the right to organize. STAS leaders have been in Tegucigalpa and are watching the events closely. 

STAS and other union leaders sent a letter of congratulations and support to Castro, in which they also called on her administration to take action to hold Fyffes accountable. (English translation) 

Melon workers in Choluteca are part of a huge movement of workers who have fought long and hard for change in Honduras.  

For many years, the US government has done little to support democratic reform and workers’ rights in Honduras, while demonizing Honduran migrants to the US who have tried to escape the violence and grinding poverty in a country held captive by corrupt politicians, narco-gang leaders and cruel and extractive multinational corporate interests. Vice President Harris should use her visit to the country to make clear the US government’s support for democracy, transparency and labor rights that will provide good jobs and economic growth and enable Hondurans to build a safe and stable society.  

As the Honduran people fight for the future they deserve, Fyffes must stop delaying and sign a fair deal for melon workers. International allies are united in our fight to support STAS and all workers in the country.  

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