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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 2nd, 2018

CONTACT: Nazly Sobhi Damasio, nazly@globallaborjustice.org

Asia Floor Wage Alliance Women Trade Union Leaders Garment Supply Chain Statement

We write as women trade union leaders in the Asia Floor Wage Alliance (AFWA) representing thousands of women garment workers in India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Cambodia. Our members produce clothes for H&M, Gap, Walmart and other well known brands which consumers in the U.S. and Europe wear.

The research we commissioned this year exposed women garment workers in Asia fainting at their workplaces due to malnutrition, exposure to high temperatures, and high levels of chemical substances in poorly ventilated spaces. The physical toll of garment work is exacerbated by violence that inflicts physical, mental, and sexual harm. These experiences of violence are unrelenting. Women workers are forced to work through lunch and into overtime hours that may stretch into the night.

Women workers also reported facing increased harassment and retaliation when they come forward to report to supervisors, auditors and brands. Unions that stand with their women members also face aggressive union busting tactics.

Corporations Cannot Investigate Themselves They Must Work with Women Led Worker Organizations

We commissioned this independent research to show that world what workers, trade unions, and brands already know well. Gender-based violence is prevalent and a consequence of fast fashion supply chain contracting practices. The research also proves how corporate social responsibility and internal audits exist to whitewash the problems. Uncovering and solving these problems requires working with worker organizations to change purchasing practices.

Brands sometimes like to say that violence and exploitation is coming from a few bad supervisors or Asian culture as a whole, but our research showed that it is not the case at all. The research showed how the fast fashion business is based on a business model that uses production targets and so-called competitive pricing to create a captive workforce earning subminimum wages and being forced to work overtime, placing women garment workers at routine risk for gender based violence. To sell clothes so cheap, turn over new styles fast, and deliver such high profits to brand executives and shareholders, suppliers rely on a business model that utilizes the discrimination and exploitation women workers as a cost saving measure.

Help Us Show a New Way Forward with Brands, Suppliers and Trade Unions

We are encouraged that the research has received significant global attention in major news outlets in the U.S., Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America. We have received numerous messages of support from the women’s movement, trade unions, human rights groups, and others who recognize the problem and demand for it be stopped immediately.

But we need you all to understand the scope of this serious issue and take it a step further.

Now that Gap, H&M, and Walmart have been challenged to recognize what the research shows, they are trying to use their own internal audits and corporate social responsibility to distract from the necessary structural changes that they need to make immediately.

Brands themselves know these internal audits do not work. These are the same audits that have already failed to uncover what our research showed. These are the same auditors that determined Rana Plaza was safe months before it’s collapse, and resulted in the deaths of more than a thousand garment workers, the majority of whom were women.

Our research shows that these internal investigations are used by suppliers to coach women workers and threaten them to not participate in. These are the same corporate programs which address trainings without actually changing the supply chain pressures where gender based violence is common as a method of meeting high production, low cost contracts from the suppliers.

Urge Gap, H&M, and Walmart to Work with AFWA Women Leaders’ Committee to Pilot Projects in the Supply Chain Factories

As women workers and leaders of trade unions who work on their supply chains day after day we don’t just know the problems we know what solutions will work. These jobs are important to us – and we expect them to be decent jobs with living wage salaries, nondiscrimination, and freedom to join and lead worker organizations. These brands cannot do it alone, but together with their suppliers, and trade union leadership we can pilot innovative agreements and practices that enable women workers to lead in their workplaces, communities, and beyond.

Together We Can Remove Barriers So Women Workers Can Drive the Solutions!

We know the problems and the solutions to solving them. And we want our factories and our countries to be models of decent work for women.

If Gap and H&M are serious about commitments to women’s empowerment they and their suppliers should work, locally and regionally, with us women workers and women trade union leaders to pilot programs that change conditions in the factory immediately.

We know that dozens of of trade unions and civil society organisations in Asia and globally support our efforts and we ask our supporters around the world to keep fighting alongside us. Urge Gap, H&M, and Walmart to work side by side with the AFWA Women Leaders’ Committee.

The undersigned (and growing list) of women trade union leaders of Asia Floor Wage Alliance Women Leaders Committee urge H&M, Gap and Walmart to work with us to discuss these supply chain findings and pilot women’s committees in factories that eliminate gender-based violence and discrimination from the supplier factories.

Signed:

  • Asia Floor Wage Alliance Women Leaders’ Committee
  • Yang Sophorn, President, Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions (CATU), Cambodia
  • Kokom Komalawati, Women and Child Department, National Leadership Committee, Gabungan
  • Serikat Buruh Indonesia(GSBI) (English: Indonesia Joint Trade Unions), Indonesia
  • Sumiyati, National Leadership Committee, Serikat Pekerja Nasional (SPN) (English: National Union of Workers), Indonesia
  • Dian Septi, General Secretary, FBLP-KPBI (Federasi Buruh Lintas Pabrik- Konfederasi
  • Persatuan Buruh Indonesia), Indonesia
  • Rukmini V.P., President, Garment Labour Union, India
  • Rathi, Vice President, Karnataka Garment Workers Union, India
  • Anannya Bhattacharjee, Garment and allied Workers Union, India
  • R.J.K Inoka Damayanthi, Ceylon Mercantile Union (CMU), Sri Lanka
  • Lalitha Ranjanee Dedduwakumara, Textile, Garment and Clothing Workers Union, Sri Lanka
  • P. Kumasi, President, National Free Trade Union, Sri Lanka

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 31st, 2018

CONTACT: Nazly Sobhi Damasio, nazly@globallaborjustice.org

Gender Based Violence in the Asian H&M and Gap Garment Supply Chains: Two Reports to the International Labor Organization

Today, as negotiations are underway at the International Labor Organization in Geneva to create a global standard on women’s labor rights, Global Labor Justice announces new research showing why an international labor standard on gender based violence must include strong accountability for women working in global production networks.

Along with the Asia Floor Wage Alliance (AFWA) and its members CENTRAL Cambodia , Sedane Labour Resource Centre (LIPS) Indonesia , and Society for Labour and Development (SLD) India, Global Labor Justice released two groundbreaking factory level research reports exposing gender based violence in H&M and Gap’s Asian garment supply chains. The coalition is also asking for immediate action to be taken by H&M and Gap to end the violence and harassment that women garment workers are forced to endure regularly in their garment supplier factories.

These reports follow the release of Friday’s report documents the spectrum of gender based violence in Walmart’s global garment production network in advance of its annual shareholder meeting.

This new research documents sexual harassment and violence including physical violence, verbal abuse, coercion, threats and retaliation, and routine deprivations of liberty including forced overtime. The research also makes clear these are not isolated incidents and that gender based violence in the H&M and Gap garment supply chains is a direct result of how these brands conduct business.

The H&M and Gap reports include an investigation of gender-based violence in H&M and Gap garment supplier factories, undertaken between January 2018 and May 2018 in nine garment production hubs across five countries in Asia, including: Dhaka, Bangladesh; Phnom Penh, Cambodia; West Java and North Jakarta, Indonesia; Bangalore, Gurugram (Gurgaon), and Tiruppur, India; and Biyagama, Gampaha District and Vavuniya District, Northern Province, Sri Lanka.

Contextualizing these findings in relationship to industry risk factors, the reports draw upon 2016 Asia Floor Wage Alliance research documenting human rights violations in H&M and Gap garment global supply chains; and the findings of five national level people’s tribunals held by Asia Floor Wage Alliance on working conditions in garment global production networks in South and Southeast Asia.

Based upon analysis of the spectrum of gender based violence and associated risk factors in the garment industry, these reports include concrete recommendations for an ILO Convention to eliminate gender based violence and harassment in the world of work. This work is urgent and important.

In an April 2018 labor dispute profiled in the H&M report , the Karnataka Garment Workers Union (KOOGU) presented a letter to the General Manager of an H&M supplier factory in Bangalore, India requesting a discussion of three demands related to wages and other working conditions.

The meeting was never called. Two days later, the elected representatives of the union were physically assaulted by management. Leaders — including women workers —- were physically beaten up, dragged out of the factory, and called derogatory caste related slurs. A 31 year old woman who was employed as a tailor in the factory, and elected as a leader of the union, describes being grabbed by her hair and punched while enduring a torrent of slurs including, “ “you whore, your caste people should be kept where the slippers are kept ” — and others with even more derogatory language .

In another labor dispute in India also profiled in the H&M report , women workers employed in an H&M supplier factory in Bangalore, Karnataka, India reported physical abuse associated with pressure to meet production targets. A worker, Radhika, described being thrown to the floor and beaten:

On September 27, 2017, at 12:30 pm, my batch supervisor came up behind me as I was working on the sewing machine, yelling “you are not meeting your target production.” He pulled me out of the chair and I fell on the floor. He hit me, including on my breasts. He pulled me up and then pushed me to the floor again. He kicked me.

In an H&M supplier factory in Sri Lanka, a woman worker recounted facing retaliation for responding to unwanted physical touch from machine operators charged with fixing broken sewing machines in the production unit:

When girls scold machine operators for touching them or grabbing them, they take revenge. Sometimes they give them machines that do not function properly. Then, they do not come and repair it for a long time. After that, supervisors scold us for not meeting the target.

In an Indonesian Gap supplier factory, failure to meet production targets not only provokes verbal abuse but also intimidation and threats of firing. One woman described the daily barrage of yelling and mocking from her supervisor, driving her to meet production targets:

If you miss the target, all the workers in the production room can hear the yelling:

“You stupid! Cannot work?”

“If you are not willing to work, just go home!”

“Watch out, you! I will not extend your contract if you cannot work.” “You don’t have to come to work tomorrow if you can’t do your job!”

“They also throw materials. They kick our chairs. They don’t touch us so they don’t leave a mark that could be used as evidence with the police, but it is very stressful.”

Women workers employed in a Gap supplier factory in Biyagama, Gampaha District, Sri Lanka also reported both working late into the night and risking harassment and robbery on their way home. One worker recounted:

“Supervisors require us to work in the night, but we do not get transport to go home. People from the factory take advantage of women in this position. We are harassed by men who wait outside the factory gates at night, especially younger women. A friend of mine was robbed. They took all of the jewellery she was wearing.”

Anannya Bhattacharjee, International Coordinator of Asia Floor Wage Alliance says, “Decades of research and experience provide ample proof that voluntary corporate social responsibility initiatives whitewash a pattern of labor violations along global garment supply chains. The beneficiaries are a multi-billion-dollar corporate garment industry that has failed workers, employers, and consumers.

Corporate accountability requires brands including H&M and Gap and their suppliers to negotiate and adopt binding and enforceable agreements with garment unions in production countries.

“Women workers and their labor organizations are uniting across borders to demand work that is free of gender based violence, pays a living wage, and promotes women’s initiative and leadership at all levels,” says Jennifer (JJ) Rosenbaum, U.S. Director of Global Labor Justice . “Multinational corporations are expanding global supply chain models in many sectors. But it’s not only the corporations that are going global. Intersectional movements of workers, women, migrants and others are building cross-border networks and demanding change to a system that relies on poverty wages and gender based violence to deliver fast fashion to the U.S. and Europe at the expense of the well-being of women garment workers and their families.”

Tola Meun, Executive Director of CENTRAL , described the violence documented in the report as a daily reality, “Gender based violence is a daily reality for women garment workers driven to meet unrealistic production targets in H&M and Gap’s supply chains. Most of these cases are not reported due to fear of retaliation in the workplace, including facing higher production targets or even being fired.”

“These findings from the research show that women workers need strong, independent trade unions to respond to gender based violence and the surveillance and retaliation that block many women workers from coming forward,” said Emilia Yanti Sihaan, General Secretary of the Indonesia Federation of Independent Trade Unions (GSBI) . “Women workers will not stop with an international labor standard eliminating gender based violence – we also demand core labor standards protecting freedom of association and collective bargaining to be respected by employers and governments.”

In response to the reports, the Women’s Leadership Committee of the Asia Floor Wage Alliance is asking Gap to take three immediate action steps:

  1. Publicly support and commit to proactively implement an ILO Convention Recommendation on Gender Based Violence that includes the recommendations from the Asia Floor Wage Alliance and partners
  2. Meet with the Asia Floor Wage Women’s Leadership Committee in the next three months to discuss the supply chain findings and next steps
  3. Proactively work with the Asia Floor Wage Alliance to pilot women’s committees in factories that eliminate gender based violence and discrimination from the supplier factories

Asia Floor Wage Alliance and Global Labor Justice are also calling on H&M to ensure its supplier immediately addresses the demands from the KOOGU union :

  1. Reinstate all 15 workers who were fired in retaliation for union activity
  2. Terminate employment for all factory managers and senior staff involved in the attack
  3. Meet with KOOGU to discuss the original three demands: inclusion of an elected worker on the factory health committee to address water quality at the factory, steps to address irregular transportation to the factory, and negotiation to raise payments that are currently below living wages.

A substantive response from H&M and Gap has yet to be received after the reports coupled with requests for action were sent to H&M and Gap on May 30th, 2018.

 

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Global Labor Justice (GLJ) is a US based strategy hub supporting transnational collaboration among worker and migrant organizations to expand labor rights and new forms of bargaining on global value chains and international labor migration corridors.

Asia Floor Wage Alliance (AFWA) was officially formed in 2006 and includes more than 76 organizations, including garment industry trade unions, NGOs, consumer groups and research institutes from more than 17 countries from across Asia, Europe and North America.

CENTRAL (The Center for Alliance of Labor & Human Rights) is a local Cambodian NGO. The organization empowers Cambodian working people to demand transparent and accountable governance for labor and human rights through legal aid and other appropriate means.

Sedane Labour Resource Centre/Lembaga Informasi Perburuhan Sedane (LIPS) is a nongovernmental organization in labor studies. LIPS works to strengthen the labor movement by documenting knowledge through participatory research and developing methods of popular education in labor groups and unions.

Society for Labour and Development (SDI) is a Delhi-based labour rights organisation. SLD promotes equitable development by advocating for the social and economic wellbeing of workers, with a particular emphasis on women’s and migrants’ rights and cultural renewal among disenfranchised people. SLD works in the National Capital Region Territory, Haryana, Uttar, Pradesh, Bihar, and Jharkhand.

 

 

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 25th, 2018

CONTACT: Nazly Sobhi Damasio, nazly@globallaborjustice.org

Worker Voices from the Asian Walmart Garment Supply Chain: A Report on Gender Based Violence to the 2018 International Labour Organization

A global coalition of trade unions, worker rights and human rights organizations, which includes Asia Floor Wage Alliance (AFWA), CENTRAL Cambodia , and Global Labor Justice released a groundbreaking factory level research report today detailing gender based violence in Walmart’s Asian garment supply chain and are also asking for immediate action be taken by Walmart to end the violence and harassment that women garment workers are forced to endure daily.

After significant initiative from trade unions, the International Labour Organization (ILO) will convene to set international labor standards on gender based violence . Trade union leaders from around the world along with governments and business will meet to discuss the historic opportunity to create a global standard protecting women across sectors. This report has been prepared to inform this dialogue and to make sure the experience and recommendations of low wage women workers and the sectors and supply chains that rely on them are uplifted in order to create a strong framework guided by the leadership of trade unions and worker organizations that will provide employers, multinational enterprises, and governments a blueprint for eliminating gender based violence in the workplace.

The report includes an investigation of gender-based violence in the Walmart garment supplier factories conducted between January 2018 and May 2018 in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Phnom Penh, Cambodia; and West Java, Indonesia. The research seeks to understand the spectrum of gender based violence and associated risk factors; and to use this information to address gender based violence through an ongoing approach that incorporates training on workplace violence as well as national and international level advocacy. The report builds on a 2016 report documenting human rights violations in Walmart’s garment global supply chain and five tribunals held by the Asia Floor Wage on the sector overall.

Women workers reported sexual harassment and violence ; and industrial discipline practices, including physical violence, verbal abuse, coercion, threats and retaliation, and routine deprivations of liberty including forced overtime. These are not isolated incidents, gender based violence in the Walmart garment supply chains is a direct result of how Walmart conducts business.

Sulatana, a former production-line manager in a Walmart supplier factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh shares her experience with sexual harassment and retaliation:

“He flirted with me, he would touch me on the shoulder or touch me on the head. I tried to ignore him. I thought if I showed no interest, he would stop. It didn’t work. He offered me a salary increase and a promotion if I agreed. When I did not, he threatened to fire me. I was anxious and afraid. I skipped work the next day… The police refused to receive my complaint on the grounds that I had no authentic proof. A few days later, . . . the General Manager me to his office and asked me to resign immediately. When I approached Human Resources, I was told that the General Manager’s decision was final.”

Shahida, a 26-year-old sewing machine operator in a Walmart supplier factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh details the targeted verbal abuse women workers experience in order to avoid being paid workplace benefits:

“I began working at this factory in April 2013. I earned a good reputation as a skilled and dedicated worker. The line-chief and supervisor were happy with my work. After completing my fourth year at the factory, they reversed their attitude toward me. They shouted at me and bullied me. They called me names. I reported this to the factory manager, but he responded by raising my production targets. I couldn’t manage to work this way. In March 2018, before reaching my fifth year, I quit the job. It was exactly what they wanted. I resigned and they did not pay me the gratuity I had earned because they said I had resigned from the job myself.”

A woman worker from a former Walmart supplier factory in Kingsland Garment, Jakarta, Indonesia describes the physical impact of working long hours, seated, in a poorly ventilated factory:

“At work I’m facing stomach pain, digestion and nose problems from sitting long hours working so much overtime, and working so many days. But sometimes I just have to forget my sickness because I have no money. I have to be the rock in the family.”

Anannya Bhattacharjee, secretariat of AFWA says, “Walmart, the trend-setter for lean supply chain management relies on women workers’ gender-based exploitation in their supply chains to maximize their profits. To eliminate gender based violence in supply chains, Walmart and other brands must take responsibility on their supply chains. It is also fundamental that Walmart and other brands respect the freedom of association and collective bargaining that allow women workers to be change agents in the global economy.

“The movement for dignity and equity at work for all women is global”, says Jennifer (JJ) Rosenbaum, U.S. Director of Global Labor Justice. “Women in the U.S. shouldn’t stop at holding Walmart and U.S. corporations accountable for what happens in their U.S. retail stores and warehouses. We must also demand accountability along their global production networks.”

Tola Meun, Executive Director of CENTRAL says, “Gender based violence is a daily reality for women garment workers driven to meet unrealistic production targets in Walmart supply chains. Most of these cases are not reported due to fear of retaliation in the workplace.”

In response to the reports, the Women’s Leadership Committee of the Asia Floor Wage Alliance is asking Walmart for three immediate action steps :

  1. Publicly support and commit to proactively implement an ILO Convention Recommendation on Gender Based Violence that includes the recommendations from the Asia Floor Wage Alliance and partners.
  2. Meet with Asia regional meeting (s) organized by the Asia Floor Wage Women’s Leadership Committee in the next three months to discuss the supply chain findings and next steps.
  3. Proactively work with the Asia Floor Wage Alliance to pilot women’s committees in factories that eliminate gender based violence and discrimination from the supplier factories.

Walmart is preparing various activities for its shareholder meeting next week and released a report on global responsibility earlier this year. A substantive response from Walmart has yet to be received after the reports coupled with requests for action were sent to Walmart the morning of May 23 rd , 2018.

Walmart workers at U.S. retail stores with the Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR) announced support from the #TimesUp Legal Defense Fund to support litigation against Walmart for sexual harassment.

 

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Global Labor Justice (GLJ) is a US based strategy hub supporting transnational collaboration among worker and migrant organizations to expand labor rights and new forms of bargaining on global value chains and international labor migration corridors.

Asia Floor Wage Alliance (AFWA) was officially formed in 2006 and includes more than 76 organizations, including garment industry trade unions, NGOs, consumer groups and research institutes from more than 17 countries from across Asia, Europe and North America.

CENTRAL (The Center for Alliance of Labor & Human Rights) is a local Cambodian NGO. The organization empowers Cambodian working people to demand transparent and accountable governance for labor and human rights through legal aid and other appropriate means.

 

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Vozes dos Trabalhadores da Cadeia Asiática de Suprimento de Vestuário: Um Relatório sobre Violência da Classe Feminina

Uma aliança global de sindicatos, e organizações pelos direitos dos trabalhadores e direitos humanos no qual inclui Asia Floor Wage Alliance (AFWA), CENTRAL Cambodia e Global Labor Justice liberaram um relatório inovador que foi feito entre as fábricas no dia 25 de Mayo revelando violência da classe feminina da cadeia Asiática de suprimento de vestuário Walmart. As organizações também estão pedindo para o Walmart tomar *providências imediatas*, para finalizar a violencia e assedio que estas mulheres trabalhadoras estão forçadas a enfrentar diariamente. Após iniciativa empreendedora dos sindicatos, o International Labour Organization (ILO) vai convocar para configurar um padrão internacional de trabalho na violência da classe feminina. Líderes de sindicatos ao redor do mundo, governos e negócios vão encontrar para discutir a oportunidade histórica criar um padrão global, protegendo mulheres em todos os setores. Este relatório vai informar a discussão e acertar que os comentarios e recomendações das mulheres trabalhadoras de baixa renda estão sendo ouvidos e empoderados e as cadeias de suprimento que dependem dessas mulheres trabalhadores também são empoderadas para criar um sistema forte para os empregadores, empresas multinacionais e governos eliminar violência da classe feminina.

Este relatório inclui uma investigação de violência da classe feminina na fábrica da cadeia de suprimento Walmart conduzido entre Janeiro 2018 e Maio 2018 em Dhaka, Bangladesh, Phnom Penh, Camboja e Indonésia Java Oeste e segue um relatório feito no ano 2016 documentando violações de direitos humanos na cadeia global de suprimentos e os cinco tribunais detidos pelo Asia Floor Wage em todos os setores.

Estes novos estúdios documentam o assédio sexual e violência da classe incluindo violência física, abuso verbal, a força, ameaças e retaliações, uma rotina falta de liberdade incluindo forçado horas extras. Estes estúdios também esclarecem que a cadeia de suprimentos normaliza esta violência da classe por que acontece com muita frequencia.

Sulatana, Uma Ex gerente de linha de produção em uma fábrica de fornecedores Walmart in Dhaka, Bangladesh compartilha a sua experiencia com assédio sexual e retaliação:

“Ele flertou comigo, ele tocaria em meu ombro ou na minha cabeça. eu tentei ignora-lo. eu pensei que se eu não mostrasse interesse, ele iria parar. Não funcionou. Ele me ofereceu um aumento de salário e uma promoção se eu concordasse, Quando eu não aceitei, ele ameaçou me demitir.

Eu estava ansiosa e com medo. Eu faltei no trabalho no dia seguinte…A polícia se recusou a receber minha queixa alegando que eu não tinha nenhuma prova autêntica. Alguns dias depois,…o gerente geral me chamou para seu escritório e pediu-me para renunciar imediatamente. Quando eu abordei o Recursos Humanos, me disseram que a decisão final era do Gerente Geral.

Shahida, Uma costureira de 26 anos que opera em uma fábrica de fornecedores in Dhaka , Bangladesh detalha o abuso verbal direcionado que as trabalhadoras vivenciam para evitar receber benefícios no local de trabalho:

“Comecei a trabalhar nesta fábrica em abril de 2013. Ganhei uma boa reputação como funcionário qualificado e dedicado. O chefe de linha e o supervisor estavam felizes com o meu trabalho. Depois de completar meu quarto ano na fábrica, eles inverteram sua atitude em relação a mim. Eles gritavam comigo e me ameaçavam. Eles me chamavam de nomes. Eu reportei isso para o gerente da fábrica, mas ele respondeu aumentando minhas metas de produção. Eu não conseguia mais trabalhar assim. Em março de 2018, antes de completar meu quinto ano, deixei o emprego. Era exatamente o que eles queriam. Eu me demiti e eles não me pagaram a gratificação que eu tinha ganhado porque eles disseram que eu havia me demitido do trabalho.”

Uma trabalhadora de uma antiga fábrica de fornecedores Walmart em Kingsland Garment, Jacarta, na Indonésia, descreve o impacto físico de trabalhar longas horas sentado em uma fábrica mal ventilada :

“No trabalho, estou com dor de estômago, digestão e nariz problemas de sentar longas horas trabalhando tanto tempo extra, e trabalhando tantos dias. Mas às vezes eu só tenho que esquecer minha doença porque não tenho dinheiro. Eu tenho que ser a rocha da família.

Anannya Bhattacharjee, secretariado de AFWA, diz “o Walmart e o criador de tendências de gestão das cadeias de suprimento e confiam na exploração das mulheres trabalhadoras para capitalizar os lucros. Eliminar violência da classe feminina das cadeias de suprimento o Walmart e as outras marcas devem assumir a responsabilidade. É necessario tambem que o Walmart e as outras marcas respeitam a liberdade de associação e barganha coletiva que permite às mulheres ser agentes de mudança na economia global.”

“A necessidade de dignidade e equidade é global,” diz a Jennifer (JJ) Rosenbaum, diretora de Global Labor Justice nos EUA. “Mulheres nos EUA devem fazer mais. Devemos exigir prestação de contas nas lojas, nos armazéns e nas redes globais de produção.

Tola Meun, diretora executiva de CENTRAL diz, “Como os alvos de produção são irrealistas, violência da classe e uma realidade que estas mulheres trabalhadoras de confecções enfrentarem diariamente. Estos casos estão nunca reportados por ter medo de retaliação no trabalho.”

Em resposta aos relatorios, o Women’s Leadership Committee de Asia Floor Wage Alliance esta requisitando o Walmart a fazer três passos de acção imediato:

  1. Suporte público e um compromisso proativo ao implementar a ILO convenção de recomendações da classe feminina violentada que inclui as recomendações da AFWA e parceiros.
  2. Encontrar com o AFWA e o comitê de mulheres líderes nos próximos três meses para discutir descobertas na cadeia de suprimentos e próximos passos.
  3. Trabalhar proativamente com AFWA para comandar o comitê de mulheres nas fábricas que eliminam violência sexual contra a classe feminina pelas empresas.

Esta semana o Walmart teve uma reunião com seus acionistas e liberou um relatório de responsabilidade global no início deste ano. O Walmart ainda não forneceu uma resposta substantiva apos os relatorios e solic’ita’co’es de acc”ao foram mandados na manha’ no dia 23 de Mayo, 2018.

Trabalhadores do Walmart com o Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR) anunciaram suporte de #TimesUp Legal Defense Fund para suportar litigio contra o Walmart para o assedio sexual.

 


 

Worker Voices from the Asian Walmart Garment Supply Chain: A Report on Gender Based Violence

A global coalition of trade unions, worker rights and human rights organizations, which includes Asia Floor Wage Alliance (AFWA), CENTRAL Cambodia , and Global Labor Justice released a groundbreaking factory level research report on Friday, May 25th exposing gender based violence in Walmart’s Asian garment supply chain. The coalition is also asking that Walmart take immediate action t to end the violence and harassment that women garment workers are forced to endure regularly in their garment supplier factories.

After significant initiative from trade unions, the International Labour Organization (ILO) will convene to set international labor standards on gender based violence . Trade union leaders from around the world along with governments and business will meet to discuss the historic opportunity to create a global standard protecting women across sectors. This report has been prepared to inform this dialogue and to make sure the experience and recommendations of low wage women workers and the sectors and supply chains that rely on them are uplifted in order to create a strong framework guided by the leadership of trade unions and worker organizations that will provide employers, multinational enterprises, and governments a blueprint for eliminating gender based violence in the workplace.

The report includes an investigation of gender-based violence in the Walmart garment supplier factories conducted between January 2018 and May 2018 in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Phnom Penh, Cambodia; and West Java, Indonesia; and builds on a 2016 report documenting human rights violations in Walmart’s garment global supply chain and five tribunals held by the Asia Floor Wage on the sector overall.

This new research documents sexual harassment and violence including physical violence, verbal abuse, coercion, threats and retaliation, and routine deprivations of liberty including forced overtime. The research also makes clear these are not isolated incidents and that gender based violence in the Walmart supply chains is a direct result of how this employer conducts business.

Sulatana, a former production-line manager in a Walmart supplier factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh shares her experience with sexual harassment and retaliation:

“He flirted with me, he would touch me on the shoulder or touch me on the head. I tried to ignore him. I thought if I showed no interest, he would stop. It didn’t work. He offered me a salary increase and a promotion if I agreed. When I did not, he threatened to fire me. I was anxious and afraid. I skipped work the next day… The police refused to receive my complaint on the grounds that I had no authentic proof. A few days later, . . . the General Manager me to his office and asked me to resign immediately. When I approached Human Resources, I was told that the General Manager’s decision was final.”

Shahida, a 26-year-old sewing machine operator in a Walmart supplier factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh details the targeted verbal abuse women workers experience in order to avoid being paid workplace benefits:

“I began working at this factory in April 2013. I earned a good reputation as a skilled and dedicated worker. The line-chief and supervisor were happy with my work. After completing my fourth year at the factory, they reversed their attitude toward me. They shouted at me and bullied me. They called me names. I reported this to the factory manager, but he responded by raising my production targets. I couldn’t manage to work this way. In March 2018, before reaching my fifth year, I quit the job. It was exactly what they wanted. I resigned and they did not pay me the gratuity I had earned because they said I had resigned from the job myself.”

A woman worker from a former Walmart supplier factory in Kingsland Garment, Jakarta, Indonesia describes the physical impact of working long hours, seated, in a poorly ventilated factory:

“At work I’m facing stomach pain, digestion and nose problems from sitting long hours working so much overtime, and working so many days. But sometimes I just have to forget my sickness because I have no money. I have to be the rock in the family.”

Anannya Bhattacharjee, secretariat of AFWA says, “Walmart, the trend-setter for lean supply chain management relies on women workers’ gender-based exploitation in their supply chains to maximize their profits. To eliminate gender based violence in supply chains, Walmart and other brands must take responsibility on their supply chains. It is also fundamental that Walmart and other brands respect the freedom of association and collective bargaining that allow women workers to be change agents in the global economy.

“The movement for dignity and equity at work for all women is global”, says Jennifer (JJ) Rosenbaum, U.S. Director of Global Labor Justice. “Women in the U.S. shouldn’t stop at holding Walmart and U.S. corporations accountable for what happens in their U.S. retail stores and warehouses. We must also demand accountability along their global production networks.”

Tola Meun, Executive Director of CENTRAL says, “Gender based violence is a daily reality for women garment workers driven to meet unrealistic production targets in Walmart supply chains. Most of these cases are not reported due to fear of retaliation in the workplace.”

In response to the reports, the Women’s Leadership Committee of the Asia Floor Wage Alliance is asking Walmart for three immediate action steps :

  1. Publicly support and commit to proactively implement an ILO Convention Recommendation on Gender Based Violence that includes the recommendations from the Asia Floor Wage Alliance and partners.
  2. Meet with Asia regional meeting (s) organized by the Asia Floor Wage Women’s Leadership Committee in the next three months to discuss the supply chain findings and next steps.
  3. Proactively work with the Asia Floor Wage Alliance to pilot women’s committees in factories that eliminate gender based violence and discrimination from the supplier factories.

Walmart held its shareholder meeting this week and released a report on global responsibility earlier this year. A substantive response from Walmart has yet to be received after the reports coupled with requests for action were sent to Walmart the morning of May 23 rd , 2018.

Walmart workers at U.S. retail stores with the Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR) announced support from the #TimesUp Legal Defense Fund to support litigation against Walmart for sexual harassment.

 

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PARA PUBLICACIÓN INMEDIATA: May 25th, 2018

CONTACTO: Nazly Sobhi Damasio, nazly@globallaborjustice.org

Voces de las Trabajadoras de la Cadena de Suministro de Prendas de Vestir de Walmart en Asia: Un Informe Sobre la Violencia de Género a la Organización Internacional del Trabajo de 2018

Una coalición mundial de sindicatos, organizaciones de derechos laborales y organizaciones de derechos humanos, que incluye Asia Floor Wage Alliance (AFWA), CENTRAL Camboya y Global Labor Justice publicaron un innovador informe de investigación a nivel de fábrica que detalla la violencia de género en la cadena de suministro de prendas asiáticas de Walmart. y también piden que Walmart tome medidas inmediatas para poner fin a la violencia y el acoso que las trabajadoras de la confección se ven obligadas a soportar a diario.

Después de una importante iniciativa de los sindicatos, la Organización Internacional del Trabajo (OIT) se reunirá para establecer normas internacionales del trabajo sobre la violencia de género. Los líderes sindicales de todo el mundo junto con los gobiernos y las empresas se reunirán para analizar la oportunidad histórica de crear un estándar global que proteja a las mujeres en todos los sectores. Este informe ha sido preparado para informar este diálogo y garantizar que la experiencia y las recomendaciones de las trabajadoras de bajos ingresos y los sectores y cadenas de suministro que dependen de ellas se eleven para crear un marco sólido guiado por el liderazgo de los sindicatos y los trabajadores. organizaciones que proporcionarán a los empleadores, las empresas multinacionales y los gobiernos un plan para eliminar la violencia de género en el lugar de trabajo.

El informe incluye una investigación sobre la violencia de género en las fábricas proveedoras de ropa de Walmart realizadas entre enero de 2018 y mayo de 2018 en Dhaka, Bangladesh, Phnom Penh, Camboya; y West Java, Indonesia. La investigación busca comprender el espectro de la violencia de género y los factores de riesgo asociados; y utilizar esta información para abordar la violencia de género a través de un enfoque continuo que incorpora capacitación sobre violencia en el lugar de trabajo, así como la promoción a nivel nacional e internacional. El informe se basa en un informe de 2016 que documenta las violaciones de derechos humanos en la cadena de suministro global de prendas de vestir de Walmart y en cinco tribunales celebrados por Asia Floor Wage en el sector en general.

Las trabajadoras denunciaron acoso sexual y violencia; y prácticas de disciplina industrial, incluida la violencia física, el abuso verbal, la coacción, las amenazas y las represalias, y las privaciones de libertad de rutina, incluidas las horas extraordinarias forzadas. Estos no son incidentes aislados, la violencia de género en las cadenas de suministro de prendas de vestir de Walmart es un resultado directo de cómo Walmart realiza negocios.

Sulatana, una ex gerente de línea de producción en una fábrica de proveedores de Walmart en Dhaka, Bangladesh, comparte su experiencia con el acoso sexual y las represalias:

“Él coqueteaba conmigo, me tocaba en el hombro o me tocaba la cabeza”. Traté de ignorarlo. Pensé que si no mostraba interés, él se detendría. No funcionó. Me ofreció un aumento salarial y una promoción si aceptaba. Cuando no lo hice, amenazó con despedirme. Estaba ansioso y asustado. Me salteé el trabajo al día siguiente … La policía se negó a recibir mi queja porque no tenía pruebas auténticas. Unos días más tarde, . . . el gerente general me llevó a su oficina y me pidió que renunciara de inmediato. Cuando me acerqué a Recursos Humanos, me dijeron que la decisión del Gerente General era definitiva “.

Shahida, una operadora de máquinas de coser de 26 años de edad, en una fábrica de Walmart en Dhaka, Bangladesh, detalla la experiencia específica de las mujeres trabajadoras del abuso verbal para evitar que se les paguen beneficios en el lugar de trabajo:

“Comencé a trabajar en esta fábrica en abril de 2013. Obtuve una buena reputación como trabajador calificado y dedicado. El jefe de línea y el supervisor estaban contentos con mi trabajo. Después de completar mi cuarto año en la fábrica, cambiaron su actitud hacia mí. Me gritaron y me intimidaron. Me llamaron nombres. Informé esto al gerente de la fábrica, pero él respondió elevando mis objetivos de producción. No podría lograr trabajar de esta manera. En marzo de 2018, antes de cumplir mi quinto año, dejé el trabajo. Era exactamente lo que querían. Renuncié y no me pagaron la propina que había ganado porque me dijeron que había renunciado al trabajo yo mismo “.

Una trabajadora de una antigua fábrica proveedora de Walmart en Kingsland Garment, Yakarta, Indonesia, describe el impacto físico de trabajar muchas horas sentado en una fábrica mal ventilada:

“En el trabajo, tengo problemas estomacales, de digestión y de nariz debido a largas horas trabajando tanto tiempo extra y trabajando tantos días. Pero a veces solo tengo que olvidar mi enfermedad porque no tengo dinero. Tengo que ser el rock en la familia “.

Anannya Bhattacharjee, coordinadora internacional de AFWA, dice: “Walmart, la creadora de tendencias para la gestión de la cadena de suministro ajustada se basa en la explotación basada en el género de las trabajadoras en sus cadenas de suministro para maximizar sus ganancias. Para eliminar la violencia de género en las cadenas de suministro, Walmart y otras marcas deben asumir la responsabilidad en sus cadenas de suministro. También es fundamental que Walmart y otras marcas respeten la libertad de asociación y la negociación colectiva que permiten a las mujeres trabajadoras ser agentes de cambio en la economía global.

“El movimiento por la dignidad y la equidad en el trabajo para todas las mujeres es global”, dice Jennifer (JJ) Rosenbaum, directora de Global Labor Justice en los Estados Unidos. “Las mujeres en los EE. UU. No deberían dejar de responsabilizar a las corporaciones de Walmart y los Estados Unidos por lo que sucede en sus tiendas y bodegas de los EE. UU. También debemos exigir responsabilidad a lo largo de sus redes de producción global “.

Tola Meun, Directora Ejecutiva de CENTRAL dice: “La violencia de género es una realidad cotidiana para las trabajadoras de la confección, orientadas a cumplir objetivos de producción poco realistas en las cadenas de suministro de Walmart. La mayoría de estos casos no se informan por temor a represalias en el lugar de trabajo “.

En respuesta a los informes, el Women’s Leadership Committee de Asia Floor Wage Alliance está solicitando a Walmart tres pasos de acción inmediatos:

  1. Apoyar públicamente y comprometerse a implementar de manera proactiva una Recomendación de la Convención de la OIT sobre Violencia de Género que incluya las recomendaciones de Asia Floor Wage Alliance y sus socios.
  2. Reunirse con la (s) reunión (es) regional (es) de Asia organizada por el Comité de Liderazgo Femenino Salarial de Asia en los próximos tres meses para analizar los hallazgos de la cadena de suministros y los próximos pasos.
  3. Trabajar proactivamente con Asia Floor Wage Alliance para llevar a cabo comités de mujeres en fábricas que eliminen la violencia de género y la discriminación de las fábricas proveedoras.

 

 

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CONTACT: Nazly Sobhi Damasio, Global Labor Justice, nazly@globallaborjustice .org

Concerns Raised at PRI’s Responsible Investment Meeting About The International Finance Corporation’s Investments Promotion of Decent Work & Development in the Hospitality Sector

Global Labor Justice issued the following:

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA At this year’s PRI ,billed as the world’s leading responsible investment conference, Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation challenged whether the International Finance Corporation’s (IFC) investments in globally branded hotels actually promote decent work and development. Burrow said, “Development loans must benefit workers — not just global financiers. Development through hospitality sector investments must ensure engagement with trade unions at every level.” Burrow’s comments referenced recent letters sent to the IFC raising concerns various labor issues at hotels Marriott operates for IFC loan recipients.

Loans from the IFC require recipients and entities with whom they contract to ensure labor standards for development on the project under a Performance Standard on Labor and Working Conditions ,updated in 2012. Loan applicants must include an economic and social action plan with their application, disclosing concrete steps to meet the standard at each phase of the project. The IFC makes these publicly available through its online information portal .

The discussion at this year’s PRI signals a change to the “business as usual” approach to private sector investment in the hospitality sector for the IFC and private lenders who invest alongside the IFC. Investors are now on notice to be attentive to how the IFC, its loan recipients, and global brands like Marriott ultimately respond.

In a letter responding to a proposed 45 million USD loan to Ananta Hotels and Resorts Limited for a Marriott Hotel and Residence property in Bangladesh, The International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF) and human and labor rights NGO Global Labor Justice (GLJ) requested that the IFC conduct additional due diligence before approving the loan, in order to ensure ethical labor standards throughout the life of the project.

In a letter referencing a $20.95 million USD loan to SAMHI Private Limited, covering a wide portfolio of hotels in India, the majority now branded Marriott, Hotel Mazdoor Panchayat, an trade union organizing in hotels, along with human and labor rights NGO Global Labor Justice (GLJ) alleged that the project does not adequately protect workers with relation to freedom of association, gender based violence, limits on contract labor and subcontracting of permanent jobs core to the industry, and living wages that enable workers and their families to afford basic necessities and participate in development.

They asked that the IFC take action to ensure that the loan recipient, SAMHI, and its branded operator Marriott, engage with trade unions as they continue to proceed with the organizing in hotels covered by the project. “We expect SAMHI, Marriott and their financiers to ensure all the hotel workers on this project are paid living wages, with fair working conditions, and freedom of association, and not retaliate against workers for forming unions in their hotel chains.” said Ashim Roy, President of Hotels Mazdoor Panchayat.

Marriott International is the largest hotel chain in the world with more than 6,500 properties in 127 countries and earning more than $22 billion in the 2017 fiscal year , which has funded its global growth in part through these preferential loans. With over 100 managed and/or franchised hotels in India and approximately 50 more under construction and renovation, Marriott’s 22,000 rooms make it the largest branded hotel chain in India.

Marriott could also face potential strikes after 8,000 workers in six cities in the United States voted to authorize strikes. More than 12,000 Marriott workers have had their contracts expire and continue negotiations to secure better standards around job security and safety while demanding the hotel giant provide more for workers who say they often can not afford to live in the cities where Marriott prospers.

Jennifer (JJ) Rosenbaum, U.S. Director of Global Labor Justice, explained that, “The International Finance Corporation is enabling Marriott to export problematic U.S. labor relations policy including ‘right to work’ policies which are at odds with the International Labour Organization’s standards on human and labor rights. We look forward to dialogue with the IFC on best practices to make these projects models for advancing decent work and socially responsible tourism.”

 

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NGOs Applaud US Customs and Border Protection’s Ban on Palm Oil Imports from FGV Holdings Berhad (FGV) But Warn of Potential for Failed Enforcement

Palm oil supplier to major brands including Procter & Gamble, Nestle, Mondelez, and Colgate-Palmolive sanctioned for use of forced labor

Washington, D.C.— On September 30th, US Customs and Border (CBP) announced a ban on palm oil imported from FGV Holdings Berhad (FGV) — one of Malaysia’s largest palm oil companies and a joint venture partner and major palm oil supplier to Procter & Gamble — due to its use of forced labor.

The ban, officially known as a withhold release order (WRO), was issued in response to a Tariff Act complaint filed over a year ago by Global Labor JusticeInternational Labor Rights Forum (GLJ – ILRF), Rainforest Action Network and SumofUs. According to 19 U.S.C. §1307 imports produced by forced labor are to be banned from the US.

The three co-petitioners and their campaign partner Freedom United applaud the decision by the CBP but warn that FGV has a history of attempting to exploit loopholes rather than clean up the labor issues on its palm oil plantations.

“This ban on FGV’s palm oil is the first step in holding the corporation accountable and pushing them to clean up their operations and supply chains. Due to the history of inaccurate reporting and lack of transparency with FGV, we urge CBP to consult with us as petitioners in the enforcement of the WRO prior to taking any steps to revoke it,” said Esmeralda López, Legal and Policy Director of Global Labor Justice – International Labor Rights Forum (GLJ – IRLF). ”Being a part of the enforcement process is essential in making sure migrant workers in Malaysia have the rights they deserve while also preventing consumers from funding forced labor when buying food, cosmetics and soaps. We look forward to working together to eradicate all practices that cause environmental destruction and make workers vulnerable to forced labor.”

“This ban is an important step in galvanizing labor reforms and supports consumer expectations that it is not acceptable for goods made with palm oil to be tainted by forced labor and the exploitation of migrant workers,” said Joanna Ewart-James, Executive Director of Freedom United. “The ban should not be lifted based on FGV’s promises to change — we need concrete proof and independent verification that workers’ rights are being upheld and that conditions that put them at risk of forced labor have been rectified.”

“Procter & Gamble and a long list of well-known brands and agribusiness companies have been knowingly profiting from FGV’s forced labor practices for years,” said Robin Averbeck, Forest Program Director for Rainforest Action Network. “It’s abhorrent that palm oil workers have continued to live in forced labor conditions simply so these companies can make increasing profits by paying illegally low prices for palm oil. For all these years these companies have refused to pay for remediation or publicly cut ties with FGV, so now the U.S. government has acted for them. Procter & Gamble and other brands must stop paying lip service to human rights and address forced labor and other labor abuses once and for all.”

“This ban on FGV’s palm oil is a strong reminder that no company, however big and powerful it may be, is above the law,” said Fatah Sadaoui, Campaigns Manager at SumOfUs. “Close to 300,000 people have taken action to hold Procter & Gamble, FGV, and other global brands accountable and express their solidarity with abused workers, victims of FGV and Procter & Gamble’s reckless greed. The message to FGV and Procter & Gamble, and other palm oil buyers is clearer than ever: the world is watching, it’s time to do the right thing and put people before profit.”

In response to the CBP ban, FGV can either re-export the goods to a third country, or provide “satisfactory evidence” to CBP that the goods in question were not produced with forced labor. The NGOs are concerned that the WRO may be lifted without being consulted because of ongoing issues with FGV’s transparency and independent verification of progress, which were explained in an August 17, 2020 letter to CBP.

FGV has a history of inaccurate reporting. For example, FGV reported on November 28th, 2018 and on June 29, 2019 that it had fully resolved labor issues. However, six months later, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) resuspended certification of FGV’s sustainable palm oil production because their audits found that payment and work conditions at the Sawit Serting mill were not aligned with domestic labor laws, including that FGV had failed to prevent migrant workers from paying exploitative recruitment fees and that workers were not adequately informed of their working conditions. While FGV has created an action plan to be monitored by the Fair Labor Association, there has not been any public reporting to date.

A campaign petition organized by Freedom United has been signed by more than 125,000 consumers around the world, urging CBP to issue a WRO against FGV palm oil. Meanwhile, more than 160,000 consumers organized by SumOfUs have called on Procter & Gamble, FGV’s joint venture partner and major customer, to address the ongoing forced labor issues on FGV’s plantations.

Rights Groups, Unions and Companies Urge EU to Make Labor Rights a Precondition of Resuming Thai Trade Negotiations

(Bangkok, October 28, 2020) – A group of 45 organizations composed of NGOs, trade unions, companies, and multi-stakeholder initiatives sent a letter today to Valdis Dombrovkis, Executive Vice President of the European Commission, urging the European Union to require labor reform in Thailand as a precondition to the resumption of trade negotiations with the Government of Thailand.

EU-Thai trade negotiations began in 2013 but were suspended because of Thailand’s May 2014 military coup. Since elections in March 2019, and the ascension of former coup leader Gen. Prayut Chan-ocha as Prime Minister, the EU has indicated that it sees the end of Thailand’s formal military government as an opportunity for re-engagement on trade with Bangkok. In 2019, the EU and the Thai government began preparations for a possible resumption of the EU-Thai free trade negotiations. The EU has pledged to place respect for human rights at the core of its trade policy. Recent events in September and October 2020 to crack down on peaceful protesters in Bangkok raise further concerns the EU must take into serious consideration.

The signatories emphasized in their letter that Thailand’s weak labor laws fall far short of international standards and the government has a poor track record in both preventing and countering labor rights abuses such as forced labor, discrimination against migrant workers, and violations of freedom of association. Such failures pose serious risks for buyers of goods and products from Thailand who are determined to ensure compliance with requirements to respect human rights throughout their global supply chains.

“Blatantly discriminatory provisions of law that bar migrant workers from forming unions and bargaining collectively because of their lack of Thai nationality are feudal, rights-abusing provisions that have no place in a modern economy like Thailand,” said Phil Robertson, Deputy Asia Director of Human Rights Watch. “Before it does deals, the EU needs to be a force to help Thailand reform its labor sector to comply with international labor rights standards.”

The letter calls for the European Union to establish a clearly defined, measurable and time-bound roadmap for Thailand to follow before trade negotiations can be restarted. In particular, it calls for this roadmap to include ratification of ILO Conventions 87 and 98, covering freedom of association and collective bargaining rights, followed by the passage of amendments to national labor laws to bring them into compliance with these core ILO conventions.

“For more than 20 years, the ILO and organizations concerned with business and human rights have repeatedly made recommendations to the Thai government regarding the ongoing denial of workers’ fundamental rights to freedom of association, collective bargaining and freedom of expression. The Thai government has made many promises to ratify ILO conventions and to undertake necessary labor law reform, yet has failed to do so. No further trade benefits should be afforded without reforms being made,” said Esmeralda Lopez, Legal and Policy Director of Global Labor Justice-International Labor Rights Forum (GLJ-ILRF).

“For the global implementation of the UN Guiding Principles, it is particularly important that the strengthening of workers’ rights and appropriate standards for employment practices become an integral part of trade agreements. Human rights and sustainability should already be firmly anchored in these agreements,” said Erik Hollman, Director CR/QA International of ALDI Nord, a signatory of the letter.

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This initiative was led by the Seafood Working Group (SWG) in collaboration with Finnwatch. The SWG is a global coalition of labor, human rights and environmental organizations coordinating to end forced labor in the seafood industry, convened by Global Labor Justice – International Labor Rights Forum (GLJ-ILRF).

GLJ-ILRF Files Amicus Brief on the Devastating Impacts of President Trump’s Latest Immigration Ban on Migrant Workers and their Families

GLJ-ILRF files amicus brief to protect the rights of migrant workers and their families and ensure the United States adopts immigration policies that are consistent with international human rights standards. 

Today, Global Labor JusticeInternational Labor Rights Forum (GLJ-ILRF) filed a brief in Gomez v. Trump, No. 20-05292 (U.S.D.C.) highlighting the devastating human and labor rights impact on migrant workers and their families of President Trump’s June 22, 2020 proclamation banning the entry of migrant workers. The Trump administration estimates that this ban will block nearly 525,000 migrant workers and their families from entering the US. Research shows that at least 1.42 million temporary foreign workers live and work annually in the U.S. across visa categories, sectors, and wage levels.

The amicus (friend of the court) brief highlights the U.S.’ international commitments that require it to ensure access to safe channels of migration and to protect migrant’s rights to due process and family integrity. But this policy separated migrant workers who had established their personal and professional lives in the U.S., from their families, including U.S. born children, without notice or minimal due process protections. As a result, these migrant workers, who had relied on U.S. immigration policies and invested significant time and resources into obtaining a work visa, are being pushed closer to poverty under internationally recognized standards of social, economic, and cultural rights.  

The U.S.’s failure to conduct the appropriate human rights due diligence before issuing the ban and its failure to respond to human rights violations when they arose is also highlighted by the amicus (friend of the court) brief. The amicus brief also includes examples of workers and their families in India and Colombia that have been harmed by the ban.  

“Human rights law and international labor standards must guide national action on labor migration programs. The Trump Administration’s failure to conduct human and labor rights due diligence before issuing the Covid Related Visa Ban left migrant workers without work, in debt recruitment fees, and in some cases separated from family,” said Jennifer (JJ) Rosenbaum, Executive Director of GLJILRF.  “The U.S. should establish labor migration programs that ensure decent work and just migration and be consistent even in times of uncertainty. This visa ban is another example of xenophobic action disguised by false claims of health, security and economic nationalism. Trump’s rhetoric and policy are backwards–protecting the working conditions, wages, and freedom of association of all workers across linked labor markets is how we avoid a race to the bottom where all workers lose.”

GLJ-ILRF is represented in the filing of the amicus brief by the International Human Rights Law Clinic, UC Berkeley, School of Law including Professor Roxanna Altholz and Clinical Teaching Fellow Astha Sharma Pokharel and law students Chelsea Muir, Ana Urgiles, and Veronica Stoever. “In just one of its latest attempts to fearmonger, further entrench xenophobia, and close down borders, the Trump Administration is exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic to ban migrant workers from the United States. But the United States’ international obligations do not permit such a cruel and reckless policy,” said Sharma Pokharel. “The Administration’s behavior jeopardizes workers’ ability to migrate safely, and violates their right to due process and family integrity. These international human rights protections must constrain the Administration’s actions.” 

The amicus brief supports the complaint filed by Justice Action Center (JAC) along with the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association, Innovation Law Lab, and Mayer Brown (pro bono) represent the workers, unions, employers and organizations who collectively joined in the first lawsuit challenging the entirety of Trump’s June 22, 2020 COVID immigration ban.  

The complaint alleged that the June Proclamation, which effectively eliminated most of the family- and employment-based immigrant visa categories, the diversity visa program, and the H-1B, H-2B, J, and L nonimmigrant visa programs, is unlawful and unconstitutional., enables the President to continue these entry bans thereafter as long as he deems them “necessary,” and is irrational, undermining its asserted goals of protecting U.S. workers and aiding the country’s economic recovery during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

While certain aspects of the ban, specifically the ban on the diversity visa program, have been struck down by the courts, the provisions affecting temporary migrant workers remain in place.  

For more information about GLJ-ILRF’s work on labor migration, please see here

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Global Labor Justice – International Labor Rights Forum (GLJ – ILRF) is a newly merged organization bringing strategic capacity to cross-sectoral work on global value chains and labor migration corridors. GLJ-ILRF holds global corporations accountable for labor rights violations in their supply chains, advances policies and laws that protect decent work and just migration, and strengthens freedom of association, new forms of bargaining, and worker organizations.

GLJ-ILRF Statement on Gabriel Boric’s Presidential Victory in Chile

“In what can only be seen as another historic victory for working people, youth, women and migrants in Chile, Gabriel Boric, a former leader of the student movement and face of a new prorgressive coalition won a decisive election on December 19. For years Chile has been going through a process of social, cultural and political transformation away from the Neoliberal model imposed by the Pinochet dictatorship, which generated one of the most unequal societies in the world. Chileans have been confronting and rising up against this system with mass mobilizations by the student, pensioneer and feminist movements. The massive protests of 2019 culminated in an agreement to hold elections for a Constitutional Convention. The convention was not only democratically elected for the first time in Chilean history, but it was also the first of its kind anywhere in the world composed of 50% women. The writing of the new constitution is mandated to conclude in 2022 with a referendum. 

Gabriel Boric’s victory thus presents significant reassurance that the constitutional process will continue unimpeded, which entails a high probability that labor rights will be enshrined in the magna carta. Furthermore, it creates enormous and unparalleled opportunities for organizing and power-building for social movements and labor unions in the short to mid-term. Combined, the constitutional process and the pro-labor policies of the Boric administration have the potential to create an environment that is extraordinarily conducive for the development of transformative organizing projects. It is fair to say there has never been a time in which Chilean workers had a better chance to drastically change their working conditions for years to come.

Strengthening organizations on the ground that are at the forefront of this struggle and supporting the constitutional process continues to be a priority for GLJ-ILRF, as we believe it is only through organized people power that long-standing and deep labor justice can be won and sustained. We are proud, committed and excited to collaborate with our partners in Chile as they continue their hard and painstaking efforts of transitioning away from neoliberalism into a rights-based society of justice and dignity for working people.

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Global Labor Justice – International Labor Rights Forum (GLJ – ILRF) is a newly merged organization bringing strategic capacity to cross-sectoral work on global value chains and labor migration corridors. GLJ-ILRF holds global corporations accountable for labor rights violations in their supply chains, advances policies and laws that protect decent work and just migration, and strengthens freedom of association, new forms of bargaining, and worker organizations.