Blog

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.  

Sign up to stay informed about this and other GLJ-ILRF fights.

October 14th, 2021

In Los Angeles, garment workers like Maria, Elizabeth, and Carlos are earning around $6 an hour. That’s because they’re paid through the piece rate system, where workers earn pennies per garment sewn instead of earning an hourly wage. “These industries are run by millionaires,” Maria from the Garment Workers Center shared on the Los Angeles Justice for Jeyasre Speaking Tour stop, “and they have us enslaved.”

A new law in California, the Garment Workers Protection Act, will end this practice by making major fashion brands responsible for paying garment workers minimum wage. Previously, when workers filed wage theft claims, the suppliers and factories would be responsible for the wages. But, they didn’t have the money to pay back the workers, so they’d often just close or use other tricks to avoid financial responsibility. This bill will make the people at the top of the supply chain, the brands, responsible for wage theft claims.

The Justice for Jeyasre campaign is also fighting to hold brands accountable for working conditions at their factories. At the Los Angeles Speaking Tour stop, both campaigns used the opportunity to share their strategies with one another and join forces. With nearly 60 people in attendance at the speaking tour’s Los Angeles stop, workers and organizers generously shared their power analysis and stories from their campaigns. Members from the Garment Workers Center, the Western States Regional Joint Board (WSRJB) of Workers United, Remake, Fashion Revolution USA, Workers United 75, Bet Tzedek Legal Services, Warehouse Worker Resource Center, and United Students Against Sweatshops spoke about protesting, advocating at the state capitol, and building coalitions to support the bill. 

After years of struggling to get workers their owed wages, these groups focused on brand accountability and won. 

“We fought for the Garment Worker Protection Act for 2 years”, said Daisy Gonzalez, the Lead Member Organizer with the Garment Workers Center, “but winning legislation is just one strategy. We also want to learn about binding agreements. We want our work to be a model to you, and your work to be a model to us as well.”

The Justice for Jeyasre campaign is also fighting to hold brands accountable, but through a set of enforceable and binding agreements between brands, their supplier, and the TTCU. These would include monitoring, remediation, and prevention of gender-based violence and harassment as well as protecting workers’ freedom of association. We know, from Jeyasre’s story, that suppliers create coercive workplaces, rife with sexual harassment and violence to push workers into producing extremely high volumes of clothing at very low wages, and to block them from unionizing. This allows fashion brands to make huge profits. The Justice for Jeyasre campaign puts the responsibility back on brands, who ultimately profit from the low cost and high production of workers in their suppliers’ factories, to end these practices.  

Garment workers in California and India work and organize in different contexts, and therefore build different strategies to win justice. But, when workers and organizers connect those strategies and build global solidarity our campaigns become even stronger.

As Maria Rivera, the Regional Manager from WSRJB said, “Your fight is our fight. We’re always fighting against these gigantic corporations. We have the strength and we have the heart.”

The Justice For Jeyasre speaking tour launched on August 8th at the APALA Convention and is an opportunity for rank and file leaders, staff and members to hear directly from Thivya and the campaign team as they share strategy and demands in their fight with major fast fashion brands producing clothing for a US and European market. 

Click here to visit the Justice for Jeyasre speaking tour website and learn more about how to take action in solidarity with Dalit women garment workers in Tamil Nadu.

Thivya Rakini will share the legacy of Jeyasre Kathiravel, a young Dalit woman and union member who was organizing for better conditions at her workplace and was killed by her supervisor inspiring the Justice for Jeyasre campaign. The campaign is demanding structural changes to the garment supply chain including an end to gender based violence and harassment and freedom of association for garment workers in Tamil Nadu and beyond.

“Young women are the backbone of the fast fashion industry,” said Thivya Rakini. “Through the Justice for Jeyasre campaign and TTCU’s broader organizing strategy, we are advancing a vision for our communities, our economy, and our country. When young women are able to work with dignified conditions and living wages, they will also be able to lead broader change.”  

“We are doing this tour to learn more about organizing efforts coming from the U.S. Like us, we know many are organizing and demanding change in the most difficult environments with centuries of historical oppression. From our experience and theirs, we are hopeful- we see organizing growing more from the South in the U.S. and from the Global South and we want to stand in unity against big corporations who put profit before people” — Thivya Rakini

The tour has already visited major US cities including Tucson, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, and more. To request more information please contact GLJ-ILRF Field Director jacobhorwitz@globallaborjustice.org.