For Immediate Release

June 5, 2023

Rachel Cohen, GLJ-ILRF,
Tanya Brooks, Greenpeace USA Senior Communications Specialist, P: 703-342-9226, E:

Ahead of TIP Report, Labor Rights Activists Urge U.S. to Call for Thailand and Taiwan to Protect Migrant Workers and End Forced Labor in Seafood Industry

Seafood Working Group Recommends U.S. Downgrading Taiwan to ‘Tier 2’ and Thailand to ‘Tier 2 Watchlist’ in the 2023 Trafficking in Persons Report

WASHINGTON, DC (June 5, 2023) – Global Labor Justice – International Labor Rights Forum (GLJ-ILRF), Greenpeace USA, and allies in the Seafood Working Group (SWG) today announced their findings of labor rights violations, forced labor, and human trafficking of migrant workers in Thailand and Taiwan and called on the U.S. Department of State to downgrade both countries in its 2023 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report in order to hold the governments accountable for these abuses.

“In our submissions, workers and their allies make clear that continuous barriers to migrant workers’ ability to exercise their fundamental labor rights, including discriminatory legal frameworks, short-term guest worker policies, and misconduct by authorities, must be addressed to end exploitation,” said Jennifer (JJ) Rosenbaum, Executive Director of GLJ-ILRF.We intend that the submissions to the State Department bring workers’ experiences into policy-making spaces in the U.S. and in Thailand and Taiwan. Our experience shows that ensuring workers’ fundamental rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining prevents situations of exploitation that lead to forced labor from occurring in the first place.”

Tefere Gebre, Chief Program Officer for Greenpeace USA, said, “For many years, the Greenpeace network has documented serious issues of human trafficking and forced labor in the Taiwanese distant water fishing industry. While lives are at stake, governments and businesses have not addressed these issues with the urgency and resources they require. The revelations in our submission detail issues happening right now and should deepen concerns about the high-risk nature of the seafood supply chain. We call on the U.S. government to increase its monitoring of seafood imports and strengthen efforts to prevent these harms from occurring in the first place. Companies that source these products must prioritize the safety and wellbeing of workers in their supply chains, and ensure their customers receive products free from forced labor and modern slavery.”

Thailand falls short of minimum standards 

The SWG recommends that the U.S. downgrade Thailand to the Tier 2 Watchlist in 2023 as it  continues to fall short of the minimum standards the U.S. has set under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) to eliminate forced labor. The Government of Thailand has not provided evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons compared to the previous year, including not adequately adopting the majority of the TIP Office’s Prioritized Recommendations outlined in the 2022 TIP Report.

The Government of Thailand committed in August 2022 to granting migrant workers the legal right to establish labor unions as part of its anti-trafficking efforts, but it has not fulfilled its promise. The government also adopted anti-trafficking measures intended to strengthen the identification of survivors of forced labor, but has not effectively implemented these new policies on the ground. The Thailand submission documents 17 cases of potential forced labor, including cases in which workers are unable to resign due to document retention, withholding of wages, physical violence, debt bondage, or death threats.

“The Thai government needs to ensure migrant workers are paid adequate wages, do not have to pay high fees to brokers, and are not harassed by authorities, as we need decent jobs here because it is not safe to return to Myanmar,” said a female seafood processing worker and member of the Migrant Workers’ Rights Network (MWRN) in Thailand. 

“After progressive parties won most of the votes in Thailand’s recent general election, we are hopeful a future government will implement policies to protect migrant workers’ rights, particularly rights to unionization for all workers, including migrant workers, said Roisai Wongsuban, Senior Program Advisor at The Freedom Fund. 

Taiwan has made insufficient efforts to remain at Tier 1

The SWG also recommends that Taiwan should be downgraded to Tier 2 as it fails to meet the TVPA minimum standards but is making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards. To maintain a Tier 1 ranking, governments need to demonstrate appreciable progress each year in combating trafficking. During the reporting period, the Taiwanese government made efforts to improve the working conditions in its distant water fishing industry, however, these have not been appreciable. The findings of this submission show that Taiwan has not made progress on the majority of the TIP Office’s Prioritized Recommendations from their 2022 Report.

“The government has made some improvements in recent years, such as installing CCTV on vessels, increasing crew salaries, and requiring life jackets. However, migrant fishers still remain totally isolated from the outside world when sailing on the high seas for months. Communication access through Wi-Fi on board is the most powerful thing to protect workers’ rights, prevent forced labor, and maintain the mental health of workers on the high seas,” said Ahmed Mudzakir, Chairman, Indonesian Seafarers’ Gathering Forum (FOSPI).

“The 21st Century Initiative on trade between Taiwan and the U.S. is quickly being developed. To facilitate a successful trade initiative between the U.S. and Taiwan and to prevent any products sourced from Taiwan involving labor exploitation, the Taiwanese government should continue to improve its regulatory practices in advancing the rights of distant water fishers. This means ending the two-tiered employment system, properly regulating the recruitment agencies to implement the ILO’s fair recruitment principles, and ensuring internet access and fishers’ freedom of association rights on the high seas,” said Lennon Ying-Dah Wong, Director of the Dept. of Politics on Migrant Workers, Serve the People Association (SPA). 

There have been well-documented cases of labor abuse in the Taiwanese fishing industry. For two years in a row, the U.S. Department of Labor placed Taiwan-caught fish on its list of goods produced by child labor or forced labor. In September 2022, Greenpeace East Asia published the report, Fake My Catch, which documented forced labor indicators on six Taiwan-owned or – flagged fishing vessels supplying to Bumble Bee Seafoods, including excessive overtime and retention of identity documents. Over two-thirds of the surveyed workers reportedly had their wages withheld.  

Click here to read the comments from the Seafood Working Group to the U.S. State Department on Thailand and Taiwan


Global Labor Justice International Labor Rights Forum (GLJ – ILRF) is a non-governmental organization that works transnationally to advance policies and laws that protect decent work; to strengthen freedom of association and workers’ ability to advocate for their rights; and to hold corporations accountable for labor rights violations in their supply chains.

Greenpeace USA is part of a global network of independent campaigning organizations that use peaceful protest and creative communication to expose global environmental problems and promote solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future. Greenpeace USA is committed to transforming the country’s unjust social, environmental, and economic systems from the ground up to address the climate crisis, advance racial justice, and build an economy that puts people first. Learn more at

The Seafood Working Group (SWG) is a global coalition of human rights, labor and environmental organizations that work together to develop and advocate for effective government policies and industry actions to end the related problems of labor exploitation, illegal fishing and overfishing in the international seafood trade.

The Wi-Fi Now For Fishers’ Rights Campaign issued the following statement on the U.S.-Taiwan Initiative on 21st Century Trade:

On Tuesday, May 23rd, dozens of Taiwanese unions, civil society organizations, and migrant worker organizations in Taipei issued their demands for the U.S.-Taiwan Initiative on 21st-Century Trade to the Taiwanese and U.S. governments, calling on the governments to protect labor and the environment as they negotiate the trade initiative this year.

The Wi-Fi Now For Fishers’ Rights Campaign, represented by the Taiwan Association for Human Rights (TAHR), Serve the People Association (SPA), and the Indonesian Seafarers Gathering Forum (FOSPI), participated in the action to ensure fishers’ rights in Taiwan are protected in the labor chapter of the trade initiative. Our coalition members called for the trade initiative to include special protections for migrant fishers in Taiwan’s distant-water fishing fleet, specifically: guaranteed and secure Wi-Fi communication while at sea to ensure their ILO fundamental labor rights, including the right to form and join unions.

Migrant workers are a major contributor to the Taiwanese economy, with more than 750,000 working in many key industries under unjust and abusive working conditions. More than 22,000 Southeast Asian migrants work in Taiwan’s fishing industry, which comprises over a thousand vessels that fish in all of the world’s oceans. Fishers at sea face forced labor and other abusive conditions that have driven them to organize unions – but without regular Wi-Fi access to connect them back to shore, the ocean is effectively a “no union zone” for too many of these workers. This violates international standards on fundamental labor rights that Taiwan and the United States have committed to upholding as part of the trade initiative.  Our campaign has called on the U.S. and Taiwan to ensure fishers can exercise their international labor rights, including freedom of association, by ensuring access to Wi-Fi communication at sea. 

Seafood production in Taiwan is a pivotal industry for labor and should be addressed in the trade initiative. Taiwan has the world’s second-biggest distant-water fleet and the U.S. is the second largest importer of seafood worldwide. Much of the tuna and other fish that fishers catch on Taiwanese vessels is sold in the U.S. and Taiwan’s fish has been listed on the U.S. Department of Labor List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor for the past two years.  

The Wi-Fi Campaign met with trade negotiators in the U.S. and Taiwan earlier this year and proposed concrete language for the labor chapter that would ensure fishers’ rights are protected in the trade initiative. During this week’s action, the delegation brought their demands to the Executive Yuan, Legislative Yuan and the American Institute of Taiwan (AIT). 

We launched our international campaign to support migrant fishers in their fight for Wi-Fi because the fishers’ have named it as a key component in their fight for their fundamental labor rights at sea. They face extremely severe abuses in Taiwan’s fishing industry, which have been documented by the U.S. government and other actors. Last year, the Biden Administration issued a high-level memorandum identifying forced labor as a major issue in distant water fishing, especially “Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated” or “IUU” fishing.  

We urge the Executive Yuan and the Biden administration to ensure that the U.S.-Taiwan Initiative on 21st Century Trade contains commitments to fundamental labor rights for all workers, including freedom of association, health and safety protections, and elimination of forced labor and discrimination against migrant workers. We will continue our advocacy as negotiations continue. 


The Wi-Fi Now For Fishers’ Rights Campaign is made up of  U.S., Taiwanese and Indonesian allies, including the Indonesian Seafarers Gathering Forum, or Forum Silaturahmi Pelaut Indonesia (FOSPI), Global Labor Justice – International Labor Rights Forum (GLJ-ILRF), Taiwan Association for Human Rights (TAHR), Stella Maris Kaohsiung, Serve the People Association (SPA), and Humanity Research Consultancy (HRC).


Click here for more info about the Wi-Fi Now for Fishers’ Rights at Sea campaign.

Global Labor JusticeInternational Labor Rights Forum joins the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF), the  International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), and trade unions around the world in condemning the guilty verdicts and prison sentences in Cambodia for nine labor rights defenders and leaders of the Labour Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees (LRSU) including LRSU President Chhim Sithar.  The charges are rooted in lawful union actions related to an ongoing labor dispute at the NagaWorld Casino Hotel. Organizing and campaigning for access to national law and international labor standards for workers should never be a crime.  If this verdict and sentences remain, they risk harm to those charged and sentenced and a broader chilling effect on lawful worker organizing, and an increase in labor rights violations.  

GLJ-ILRF also adds its voice to calls on NagaCorp and its investors to resolve the underlying labor issues including reinstating terminated workers and engaging in good-faith negotiations with LRSU.  As part of this, NagaCorp should also join the calls for Chimm Sithar to be released and the withdrawal of all charges against her and the other LRSU leaders for their labor rights defender efforts.  

For more information on the labor rights struggle at NagaWorld and regular updates, please see the newly released IUF’s web resources which gives the public a detailed history of this labor dispute and is available in English, Khmer and Chinese.

You can read the joint statement from the IUF and ITUC below.

Contact: Rachel Cohen,


Global Labor JusticeInternational Labor Rights Forum (GLJ – ILRF) is a non-governmental organization that works transnationally to advance policies and laws that protect decent work; to strengthen freedom of association and workers’ ability to advocate for their rights; and to hold corporations accountable for labor rights violations in their supply chains. 

May 25, 2023

IUF and ITUC Statement on the Verdicts and Prison Sentences for LRSU leaders including LRSU President Chhim Sithar by Cambodia’s Phnom Penh Court of First Instance 

The International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF) and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), collectively representing over 200 million workers around the world, strongly condemn the guilty verdicts and prison sentences for 9 IUF affiliate LRSU leaders including President Chhim Sithar. We call on NagaCorp to use its considerable influence to persuade the Government of Cambodia to change course immediately, to release Sister Sithar and to drop all charges against her and the other LRSU leaders. We further call on NagaCorp to reinstate the terminated workers and members of LRSU and to negotiate in good faith with the union. 

Nine members of the Labor Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees of Nagaworld (LRSU), including LRSU President Chhim Sithar were convicted today for incitement to commit a felony under Articles 494 and 495 of the Cambodian Criminal Code after engaging in a peaceful strike at NagaWorld casino in Phnom Penh. 5 were given 1.5 year prison sentences, 3 were given 1 year suspended sentences, and LRSU President Chhim Sithar was given the maximum sentence of 2 years. Local NGO’s have documented the regular use of these articles to charge and jail activists. The strike was in response to union-busting at NagaWorld casino where in April 2021, the company used the economic impacts of COVID-19 as an excuse to terminate 1,329 workers. 1,100 of these were LRSU members and activists, including the union’s entire leadership. The strike followed all legal procedures and came after numerous attempts to negotiate in good faith with the company were rebuffed. 

From December 31, 2021 to the end of the first week of January 2022, 29 striking workers were arrested. Nine were charged with incitement to commit a felony. One of the nine was released on bail, while the other eight remained in detention. The other workers were released on bail in March 2022. Since February 2022, Cambodian authorities have become more hostile and violent toward the strikers, attacking and harassing them, causing injuries such as black eyes, bloody noses, broken bones, and, in one case, a miscarriage. On April 3, LRSU president Chhim Sithar and other LRSU leaders received a death threat, left as a text on the phone of the brother of one of the representatives. LRSU alerted the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and other embassies about the threat. On November 26, 2022, LRSU president Chhim Sithar was arrested and jailed at the Phnom Penh airport upon returning from the ITUC Congress in Melbourne, Australia. Authorities claimed she had breached her bail conditions by traveling abroad. She had, however, never been shown her bail conditions, and had previously traveled to Thailand without incident. 

In March 2022, the IUF filed a complaint with the International Labour Organisation’s Committee on Freedom of Association for violations of ILO Conventions 87 and 98. As a result, the ILO has issued a formal decision urging the Government of Cambodia to ensure that NagaCorp respect labour and trade union rights. In April 2023, the IUF also filed OECD complaints against NagaCorp’s key bondholders for their failure to conduct due diligence under the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. The IUF is launching a new campaign website about the struggle at NagaWorld today which gives the public a detailed history of this struggle and is available in English, Khmer and Chinese. 

Global Labor JusticeInternational Labor Rights Forum stands in solidarity with the unions and workers fighting for justice at Starbucks.
AFL-CIO, SEIU, Workers United Slam Starbucks for ‘Bluewashing’ in Bombshell ILO Complaint Accusing Coffee Giant of Exploiting Weaknesses in US Labor Law to Squash Worker Organizing

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Despite company’s claims, ‘anti-union crusade’ runs afoul of UN-backed international labor standards to protect workers

ILO filing comes as Starbucks investors support third-party audit of company’s labor practices, U.S. Congress cracks down on its union busting 

GENEVA — Starbucks has repeatedly defended its unprecedented, unpopular anti-union campaign by claiming it commits to the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) “Core Labor Standards,” including principles of freedom of association. A new blockbuster complaint filed Thursday with the ILO – a United Nations agency whose mandate is to promote decent work for all by setting international labor standards – squashes the coffee giant’s claims as a hypocritical fiction.

Jointly filed by the American Federal of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and Workers United (an affiliate of SEIU), the 36-page complaint outlines in great detail how Starbucks is exploiting weaknesses in U.S. labor law in an effort to squash workers’ organizing efforts and deny them a seat at the bargaining table. At the same time, the company is engaging in “bluewashing” in a failed attempt to create a public appearance of social responsibility by association with the United Nations (and its blue flag) without actually engaging in socially responsible conduct.

“This complaint shows clearly that Starbucks does not abide by any kind of internationally recognized labor standards. Starbucks can no longer hide behind the ILO to justify its unpopular – and illegal – anti-union campaign. Starbucks’ bluewashing stops here,” said Mary Kay Henry, international president of SEIU. “The complaint also shows how US labor law fails to protect workers against greedy corporations. It’s time to rewrite the rules to create a new economy where everyone can thrive.”

The complaint highlights the ways in which U.S. law and practice fail to comport with ILO standards and how Starbucks continues to exploit those shortcomings to attack workers’ organizing and bargaining rights.

“U.S labor law and its enforcement steps are woefully inadequate to deal with a big, powerful employer determined to crush union organizing among its employees by interfering with their freedom of association in violation of ILO standards,” the complaint reads. “Starbucks’ anti-union crusade makes it an outlier even among American employers who are well known for their harsh antipathy toward trade unions. U.S. labor law does not provide the [National Labor Relations Board] with the tools needed to halt it.”

The complaint details how since January 2021, workers in more than 280 Starbucks stores have voted in favor of union representation. None have achieved a collective agreement or are even close to achieving it. In the course of the organizing movement, Starbucks has fired nearly 200 union activists and made multiple threats of reprisal against workers if they vote in favor of union representation, according to the complaint.

The unions ask the ILO to convene an on-the-spot “mission,” meeting with Starbucks workers and their union, Starbucks management, U.S. government officials, and other relevant actors to investigate Starbucks’ anti-worker conduct. If the Biden administration invites such a mission, it would be the first time in history that the UN agency would conduct a mission in the United States, and a clear indication that Starbucks’ anti-union conduct falls outside accepted international norms.

“The freedom to stand together with co-workers to have a union on the job is internationally recognized as a fundamental human right,” said AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler. “This complaint underscores the vital importance of holding corporations like Starbucks accountable for undercutting the freedom of association and harming workers who are simply organizing for basic fairness and a better life for their families.”

Falsely Claiming the UN Flag 

Starbucks has repeatedly invoked international labor standards to defend its interference with workers’ freedom of association. The company has embraced ILO standards in public statements and, most recently, in a statement to Starbucks shareholders opposing a proposal for an independent third-party report on the company’s response to employees’ organizing efforts. In the statement, the company tries to explain away its anti-union campaign by arguing the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association “confirmed that employers’ enjoy” a right to freedom of expression.

“The Committee has not confirmed that employers enjoy an international right to wage vitriolic campaigns of fear and intimidation against workers’ organizing efforts in the name of freedom of expression,” the complaint reads. “Starbucks is clearly trying to wrap itself in the mantle of the ILO and the Committee on Freedom of Association to justify its anti-union campaign conduct.”

The complaint cites three main shortcomings of US labor law that Starbucks is exploiting:

  • The National Labor Relations Act violates ILO standards on its face by allowing employers to interfere with workers’ freedom of association, including through tactics like captive-audience meetings.
  • Even where key elements of U.S. law align with ILO standards on their face, the absence of effective, timely, and dissuasive remedies available to the National Labor Relations Board violates principles of freedom of association by allowing Starbucks to violate workers’ organizing and bargaining rights with virtual impunity.
  • The lack of “effective and expeditious procedures” and “rapid appeal procedures” required by ILO standards allows Starbucks to continue interfering with workers’ freedom of association and to use excessive delays to frustrate organizing and bargaining rights.

“This complaint shows, in stark detail, how Starbucks has taken advantage of those aspects of US labor law that fail to comply with international standards on freedom of association to deny its workers the right to join a union, contrary to the company’s assertions,” said Deborah Greenfield, former ILO deputy director-general for policy. “Until the US amends its laws, the cards are stacked against workers in all sectors of our economy who try to exercise their right to freedom of association, despite the vigorous enforcement efforts of the National Labor Relations Board.”

The complaint highlights stunning examples of failures of US law and case studies of how Starbucks has exploited the loopholes to silence workers. It outlines how Starbucks is systematically contesting election results and appealing administrative law judges’ decisions, thus interfering with workers’ freedom of association. It outlines a reality in which an undeterred Starbucks continues to wage its unprecedented anti-union campaign:

  • Workers begin to organize, and Starbucks interferes with workers’ organizing rights.
  • Workers and unions seek representation elections and file unfair labor practice charges with the NLRB, but Starbucks’ interference continues apace.
  • [NLRB] Regional directors find merit in charges, and Starbucks’ interference continues apace.
  • Administrative law judges find Starbucks guilty of unlawful interference, and Starbucks’ interference continues apace.
  • Starbucks challenges, appeals, loses appeals, re-appeals, and its interference continues apace.

“If the U.S. labor law system functioned in reasonable compliance with ILO standards, NLRB actions and decisions in early cases would serve to deter future violations,” the complaint reads. “But the opposite has happened here. The NLRB and ALJs, and courts have acted, but Starbucks is unrelenting in its nationwide campaign to destroy workers’ organizing. Instead of slowing and halting its violations, Starbucks is accelerating them.”

“Unscrupulous employers like Starbucks are weaponizing labor laws. Starbucks is appealing and delaying in an attempt to circumvent our US laws and thwart organizing and bargaining rights,” said Lynne Fox, international president of Workers United. “We all know what’s going on here. Starbucks is playing against the clock, and its legal strategy is to delay justice until employees become disillusioned with the process and give up the right to organize and bargain. Starbucks is playing with people’s lives and livelihoods. Starbucks has invoked ILO standards to defend its behavior, and this complaint will bring an end to that.”

Extra Shot of Trouble for Starbucks 

Since former Howard Schultz stepped down as Starbucks CEO, the coffee giant has come under pressure to turn the page from Schultz’ union-busting tactics and give workers a true seat at the table rather than the metaphorical empty chair they leave for workers at shareholder meetings.

In April, Starbucks shareholders overwhelmingly voted in favor of a third-party audit of the company’s labor practices, demonstrating a clear desire among investors for the coffee giant to reset its approach to the baristas’ historic union organizing effort. Immediately after the vote, Starbucks partners and community allies turned up the heat on the Starbucks Board of Directors in a series of national actions, demanding they guide the company in a new direction under CEO Laxman Narasimhan and respect the right of workers to organize and collectively bargain for a strong contract without fear of retaliation.

Since December 2021, more than 7,500 Starbucks workers have organized nearly 300 stores, demanding Starbucks respect workers’ fundamental right to organize and bargain a fair contract with their workers.

In this same time period, regional offices of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) have issued more than 70 official complaints against Starbucks, prosecuting the company for over 1,300 specific alleged violations of federal labor law, including accusations that former CEO Howard Schultz personally threatened a worker who expressed support for organizing. To date, NLRB Administrative Law Judges have issued nine decisions, eight of which collectively found that the company has committed 130 violations, including illegal monitoring and firing organizerscalling the police on workers, and outright closing a store that recently attempted to organize.

In March, the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) heard testimony from baristas Maggie Carter and Jaysin Saxton about the illegal retaliation they faced for organizing with Starbucks Workers United and grilled former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz about his role in leading one of the most vicious union-busting campaigns in U.S. history. Schultz only agreed to testify under threat of subpoena. Ahead of the hearing, U.S. Senator Cory Booker and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) sent a letter to Schultz lambasting the company’s “blatant anti-union behavior” and calling on him to bargain in good faith with his workers.



Phoebe Rogers,, 914-343-9063

Shannon Garth Rhodes,, 832-545-1851

GLJ-ILRF Condemns and Mourns the Murder of Alex Dolorosa, Call Center Organizer with BIEN in the Philippines and Advocate for LGBTQ+ Workers

April 27, 2023

WASHINGTON DC: We at Global Labor JusticeInternational Labor Rights Forum express our outrage and deep sadness about the brutal murder of labor rights defender Alex Dolorosa, a call center organizer with the BPO Industry Employee Network (BIEN) in the Philippines and an advocate for LGBTQ+ workers.  Alex was a visionary organizer, colleague, and friend of GLJ-ILRF in building an inclusive labor movement that could deliver dignity and justice for workers in the Philippines and across borders.

Alex was a union organizer and paralegal with BIEN in Bacolod City, Philippines, which has worked closely with Communications Workers of America (CWA) and UNI Global Union on organizing and campaigns to support internationally recognized labor rights for call center workers on international value chains of U.S. and European multinational companies. Alex was also a dedicated campaigner for the rights of LGBTQ+ people in the industry with the BPO Employees Gay, Lesbian, and Allies for Genuine Acceptance and Democracy (BEGLAD).

After working in call centers and volunteering with BIEN since 2016, Alex became a full-time employee, organizer, and paralegal officer of BIEN. Because of their labor movement efforts, he and other BIEN leaders and staff and others in the Philippine labor movement faced threats and surveillance on multiple occasions.  In response to these threats, Alex took precautions – including moving houses in an attempt to stay safe.  But, like his union siblings, he refused to allow the threats to keep him from his commitments to organize for rights and dignity for call center workers.

On Monday morning, Alex was found dead behind a chicken coop, beaten and stabbed 31 times.

We share our deepest condolences with Alex’s family, friends, and union.  We will honor Alex’s memory by continuing to stand with BIEN and the trade union movement in the Philippines in the struggle for internationally recognized labor rights and human rights.

In the wake of this tragedy, we are disappointed that the Biden Administration will welcome Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. for a White House visit on May 1, celebrated as International Workers’ Day around the world.

We renew our call for the Biden administration to condition U.S.-Philippine engagement, including on trade benefits, on rapid progress in the protection of labor and human rights defenders, and expansion of workers’ meaningful access to internationally recognized fundamental labor rights, including by:

  • Urging the Philippine government to implement the recommendations of the ILO Tripartite High-Level Mission, including an Executive Order establishing a Presidential Commission that includes independent worker representatives;
  • Urging and monitoring progress of a serious, impartial, and independent investigation of the killings of Alex Dolorosa, Manny Asuncion, and all other labor rights defenders.  The Philippine labor movement has called for a Truth Commission with worker representation empowered to provide justice and compensation to those attacked for advancing workers’ rights.
  • Urging the immediate abolition of the Philippine National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), the principal source of official red-tagging, as demanded by the Philippine labor movement in their joint report to the ILO High-Level Tripartite Mission.

GLJ-ILRF has long supported labor rights defenders in the Philippines through successive waves of violent repression. We and our allies filed petitions seeking the withdrawal of trade benefits from the Philippines in 1995, in 2007, and, with unions from across the U.S. and the Philippines, again in 2021.  We updated the 2021 petition with additional incidents from 2022, and in 2023, we wrote to Secretary Raimondo and Ambassador Tai, again urging action as part of the Biden Administration’s worker-centered trade and foreign policy agenda.  Each time, we highlighted the persistence of state-sponsored anti-labor violence, arbitrary arrests, and red-tagging targeting worker-activists, along with the impunity that shelters perpetrators.  We urged the International Labor Organization, the Philippine government, and U.S. authorities to protect internationally recognized labor rights, demand an end to red-tagging that generates violence and false arrests, and stop the repression of workers across the Philippines.

Our 2021 GSP petition, raising concerns about escalating violence against trade unionists in the Philippines and urging action by the Biden Administration, was elevated by the labor movements of the United States and the Philippines, with signatories such as:

Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU)
American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)
American Federation of Teachers (AFT)
American Postal Workers Union (APWU)
Communications Workers of America (CWA)
International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT)
Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement
Workers of America (UAW)
United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union (USW)
United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE)
Global Labor Justice-International Labor Rights Forum (GLJ-ILRF)
BPO Industry Employees’ Network (BIEN) (Philippines)
Council of Global Unions – Pilipinas (CGUP) (Philippines)
Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) (Philippines)
National Congress of Unions in the Sugar Industry in the Philippines (NACUSIP) (Philippines)
National Union of Bank Employees (NUBE) (Philippines)
Nagkaisa Labor Coalition (NLC) (Philippines)
Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO) (Philippines)
Partido Manggagawa (PM) (Philippines)
Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA) (Philippines)
Public Services Labor Independent Confederation (PSLINK) (Philippines)
Unified Filipino Service Workers (UFSW) (Philippines)

For more statements of solidarity, please see below:


Global Labor Justice International Labor Rights Forum (GLJ – ILRF) is a non-governmental organization that works transnationally to advance policies and laws that protect decent work; to strengthen freedom of association and workers’ ability to advocate for their rights; and to hold corporations accountable for labor rights violations in their supply chains.

For Immediate Release

March 28, 2023

Contact: Rachel Cohen,
Jeffrey Boyd, IUF,

Hundreds of Honduran Melon Workers Protest Unsafe Conditions, Call for Labor Rights 

Workers say they are organizing to improve conditions after recently facing toxic fumes, deadly truck accident and increasing workloads

Choluteca, Honduras –  Today hundreds of seasonal workers  marched on the Japanese-owned billion-dollar multinational fruit company Fyffes plc to deliver a petition signed by more than 1000 melon farmworkers demanding their international labor rights, including their right to form their own independent union. The march comes after multiple accidents have occurred, including workers being hospitalized from toxic fumes in a Fyffes packing area, and a worker who was recently hit by a truck and died on the job.

The workers, who are organizing with the independent farmworker union El Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Agroindustria y Similares (STAS), renewed calls for Fyffes, a leading exporter of fruit to the United States and Europe, to resume negotiations for a binding agreement to protect workers’ international labor rights. STAS is affiliated to the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers (IUF) and working in close partnership with Global Labor Justice – International Labor Rights Forum (GLJ-ILRF) to hold this transnational fruit company accountable in the US where the majority of the melons picked in Honduras are sold.

Workers say they need a union at Fyffes that will enable them to protect their health and safety on the job, bargain for fair wages and create more job security.

“Workers at these melon plantations want dignity and rights on the job,” said Tomas Membreño, STAS President, “Over one thousand workers are standing strong and fighting for a voice. We’re calling on STAS  Fyffes to heed their call and come back to the negotiating table and sign a labor rights agreement that enables workers to form the union they need to ensure safe working conditions and fair pay.”

Kelyn Estrada, a 26 year old single mother of two who has worked in the melons for the last six seasons said, “This year we’ve had to work even longer days and cover almost double the harvest area than before. We are bent over in the oppressive heat all day long and we still make so little that it’s hard to feed our families. We are fighting today to tell the company loud and clear: sign the agreement to respect our rights as workers and as human beings.”

Workers report they cannot access the government “social security program,” which provides public healthcare. Marcio Noe Garcia, a long-time worker at Fyffes who for four years would wear a chemical sprayer on his back and spray the melon plants, recently collapsed upon arrival at the job and had to be rushed to the hospital. While still unsure what caused this, without “social security” he has not been able to access adequate healthcare and has incurred burdensome costs for medical treatments.

“We need an independent union so we can work with dignity and safety and support our families,” said Santos Felipa Salinas. “I have worked in the melon plantations of Fyffes since I was fourteen years old. For 26 years I’ve given my labor to this company but this year I was locked out of work and had no way to support my family. I was so desperate I decided to try to cross the border and go to the United States but I didn’t make it, so now I’m here to fight to move my family forward.”

Today as they marched on the fields, farmworkers said they want to form their own union with STAS so that together they can win good jobs that will enable them to work safely and support themselves and their families.

“Fyffes needs to listen to the women and men who plant, pick and pack their melons year after year and who today have demonstrated incredible courage with over 1,000 workers standing together to call for change,” said Jennifer (JJ) Rosenbaum. “Fyffes has the opportunity to make good on its claims to focus on “sustainability” and “shared values” with growers and customers and sign the agreement with STAS to guarantee workers international labor rights and be celebrated for moving forward as a leading multinational agricultural company that respects workers’ rights in the Global South.”

IUF General Secretary Sue Longley stated, “The right to organize is the enabling right that ensures unions can win safe workplaces and that workers have a voice on the job. The IUF calls on Fyffes to respect international labour standards, especially those on freedom of association, collective bargaining and occupational health and safety.”


Global Labor Justice International Labor Rights Forum (GLJ – ILRF) is a non-governmental organization that works transnationally to advance policies and laws that protect decent work; to strengthen freedom of association and workers’ ability to advocate for their rights; and to hold corporations accountable for labor rights violations in their supply chains.

From the fields to factories to hotels, restaurants and fast food chains, the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF) organizes, fights and wins for workers across the food chain. With 407 affiliates in 126 countries, the IUF is over 10 million strong and growing.

El Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Agroindustria y Similares (STAS): is an independent agricultural industry union in Honduras that fights for and defends the rights of workers in this sector. Unlike many unions in Honduras, STAS organizes workers industry-wide at the national level with collective bargaining agreements on banana, palm, and sugar plantations. STAS is an affiliate of the IUF.


For Immediate Release

March 28, 2023

Contact: Rachel Cohen,

Union Win at Marriott Hotel Ciela Zambia as IUF and GLJ-ILRF Campaign for Labor Rights Accountability in Development Finance Loans Continues

Workers at the Marriott Ciela Hotel in Lusaka, Zambia voted overwhelmingly today for their union delegates with the Zambian union, Hotel, Catering, Tourism and Allied Workers of Zambia(HCTAWUZ), affiliated to the Zambian Confederation of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF).

The IFC loan recipient and hotel owner benefitted from millions of USD in development finance loans for the construction of this hotel and three other Marriott-branded hotels where workers have raised violations of labor rights including the freedom of association.

After years of campaigning and under pressure from the IUF and GLJ-ILRF, the IFC and the employer eventually ended union-busting and harassment and facilitated an environment where workers could vote for union delegates free from intimidation.

While today’s election represents a positive outcome for workers, IUF and GLJ-ILRF continue to advocate for a model where the IFC facilitates early engagement between their clients and unions around respect for the IFC’s labor safeguards. We are also hopeful that today’s election represents an important step forward for respect for freedom of association as well as free and fair union elections at other IFC-funded Marriott hotels.

For more on the history of labor struggle at the Marriott Hotel Ciela, the IUF and GLJ-ILRF’s campaign for labor rights accountability in IFC-funded hotel projects, and the need for aCompliance Accountability Policy (CAP) for development loans in the hotel sector, see our recently released report here.


Global Labor Justice International Labor Rights Forum (GLJ – ILRF) is a non-governmental organization that works transnationally to advance policies and laws that protect decent work; to strengthen freedom of association and workers’ ability to advocate for their rights; and to hold corporations accountable for labor rights violations in their supply chains. 



For Immediate Release

March 22, 2023

Contact: Rachel Cohen,

NEW REPORT: Supplying SLAPPs: Corporate Accountability for Retaliatory Lawsuits in Thailand’s Poultry Supply Chain

WASHINGTON – A new report “Supplying SLAPPs: Corporate Accountability for Retaliatory Lawsuits in Thailand’s Poultry Supply Chain” highlights the continued use of Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP suits) by Thammakaset Co., Ltd. to harass migrant workers, lawyers, journalists, and other human rights defenders, and presents evidence to suggest a possible relationship between the companies Betagro and Thaifoods Group and key individuals linked to Thammakaset through the new corporate entity, Srabua Company Limited.

The report examines government databases and company documents available in the public domain, including company profiles, shareholder information, and financial reports to identify and map links in the poultry supply chain. Information from desk research was supplemented by field visits. The research team conducted field visits to the locations of the former Thammakaset farms to verify the continued operation of the farms. During these visits, the team also documented ongoing business relationships between companies identified in the supply chain of the farms. The research team additionally used satellite imagery to confirm the farms’ locations.

The report was a collaborative effort of Thai and international human rights lawyers, researchers, advocates and students. It was written by a human rights lawyer in collaboration with Global Labor Justice – International Labor Rights Forum (GLJ-ILRF) and the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR). Research support was provided by students in the Corporate Social Responsibility Program at the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice.

You can read the full report here.


Global Labor Justice International Labor Rights Forum (GLJ – ILRF) is a non-governmental organization that works transnationally to advance policies and laws that protect decent work; to strengthen freedom of association and workers’ ability to advocate for their rights; and to hold corporations accountable for labor rights violations in their supply chains.

The International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR) is a civil society organization that believes in the need for an economy that respects the rights of all people, not just powerful corporations. We harness the collective power of progressive organizations to push governments to create and enforce rules over corporations that promote human rights and reduce inequality. For more information, visit us:


For Immediate Release

March 12, 2023

Contact: Rachel Cohen,

Migrant Fishers Bring Call for Labor Rights to Boston Seafood Expo

Boston – Boston fishing and labor advocates, teachers and community members today joined Taiwan’s migrant fishers at the Seafood Expo North America to call on big seafood brands to take responsibility for their supply chains and ensure fishers’ fundamental labor rights at sea. 

Fishers spoke out about the Wi-Fi Now for Fishers’ Rights at Sea campaign and why having Wi-Fi communication is vital to protecting their rights. 

Conditions are very tough on the high seas. We need Wi-Fi to communicate with our labor organizations and families. This is how we will protect our rights and our mental health and ensure we are getting fair pay and treatment. We are asking seafood companies, governments and vessel owners to ensure we have rights on the job and a way to talk to the outside world when we’re at sea,” said Edi Kasdiwan of the Indonesian Seafarers Gathering Forum (FOSPI), who traveled to Boston to attend the Expo. 

Faith, labor and community leaders from the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance, the Boston Teachers Union, Boston Seafarers Mission, UFCW Local 1445, MassCOSH, Catholic Labor Guild, North Shore Labor Council  and other groups joined migrant fishers who work on Taiwanese deep-sea fishing vessels and other US and Taiwanese allies at the Expo. They called out the big seafood companies that make claims of a fair and safe supply chain but take little responsibility when it comes to ensuring that fishers in their supply chains work under international labor standards.

At sea for up to a year, workers are isolated and unable to communicate with their family, labor organizations, service providers, or state officials. The fishers have launched a global solidarity campaign to call for Wi-Fi on every vessel in the Taiwanese distant water fleet as a critical necessity to ensure workers’ rights under international labor standards. They are fighting for the right to organize and to end forced labor, violence and health and safety violations on their ships.

Taiwan has the world’s second largest distant water fleet, with more than 22,000 crew, the majority being migrant workers. Without access to Wi-Fi onboard fishing vessels, workers are isolated and unable to communicate with their labor organizations, service providers, state officials or their families.

Many workers have reported harrowing conditions aboard these vessels, including insufficient drinking water and food, sanitation problems, lack of onboard safety measures, high recruitment fees that put workers in debt, arbitrary wage deductions, unilateral contract termination and deportation without due process, as well as egregious abuses such as forced labor, physical abuse, murders, and disappearances at sea.

In a recent incident reported by the Yilan Migrant Fishers Union, fishers on a vessel called the Shunjie– operating in the Tonga Islands without Wi-Fi equipment–  were forced to work 20 hours a day and wrap wounds from their work with wire tapes because there were no bandages. The fishers said the captain scolded them when they were ill and asked for medicine. After months under these conditions, the fishers were only able to reach out for help when they docked and fellow fishers shared their Wi-Fi connection.

The fishers have come together to call on the U.S., Japanese and Taiwanese governments, vessel owners, seafood brands and investors to recognize their right to the ILO’s fundamental rights. Workers are looking for dialogue with companies to find solutions.

“We are in Boston to hold the world’s biggest seafood companies responsible for their supply chains. Fishers are workers who deserve rights on the job. Taiwan’s migrant fishers have launched a global campaign for that right and it’s time for these brands and retailers to come to the table with fishers and ensure that vessel owners respect their rights. These global buyers have the power to improve conditions and ensure communications access for workers in distant-water fleets,” said Kimberly Rogovin, Senior Seafood Campaign Coordinator, GLJ-ILRF.

The fishers have organized their international campaign with U.S., Taiwanese and Indonesian allies, including Indonesian Seafarers Gathering Forum, or Forum Silaturahmi Pelaut Indonesia (FOSPI), Global Labor Justice – International Labor Rights Forum (GLJ-ILRF), Taiwan Association for Human Rights (TAHR), Stella Maris Kaohsiung, Humanity Research Consultancy (HRC).

Click here for more info about the Wi-Fi Now for Fishers’ Rights at Sea campaign.



Global Labor JusticeInternational Labor Rights Forum (GLJ – ILRF) is a non-governmental organization that works transnationally to advance policies and laws that protect decent work; to strengthen freedom of association and workers’ ability to advocate for their rights; and to hold corporations accountable for labor rights violations in their supply chains. 

For Immediate Release

March 8, 2023

Contact: Rachel Cohen,

Global Tuna Giant Takes Positive Step to Resolve GLJ-ILRF Allegations of Overstated Labor Rights Claims

WASHINGTON– Global Labor Justice-International Labor Rights Forum (GLJ-ILRF) today welcomed a settlement with Bumble Bee Foods, under which the tuna giant agreed to remove specific claims about its fishing practices and working conditions, including “fair and safe supply chain” and “fair and responsible working conditions,” from its website, social media presence, and other public advertising to reach a mutual settlement of the lawsuit.

The resolution of the lawsuit coincides with the recent launch of the Wi-Fi Now for Fishers’ Rights at Sea campaign to ensure fair and responsible working conditions for Taiwan’s migrant distant-water fishers. The fishers have launched a campaign for fundamental workers’ rights– including freedom of association and health and safety at work– and for Wi-Fi access on their vessels so they can protect those rights.

Migrant fishers, GLJ-ILRF and other Taiwanese and U.S. allies will bring the call for these rights to big seafood producers and brands at the North America Seafood Expo in Boston this weekend.

“This settlement is a step in the right direction, and we are hoping for productive dialogue with Bumble Bee and other industry actors and governments about ensuring accessible and encrypted Wi-Fi for fishers in Taiwan’s fleet. Wi-Fi on every vessel would enable workers to protect their fundamental labor rights on board and prevent labor exploitation. This is an opportunity for industry, governments, fishers, and their unions to work together towards a shared solution,” said Sahiba Gill, Senior Staff Attorney at GLJ-ILRF.

In March 2022, GLJ-ILRF filed suit in a Washington D.C. court against Bumble Bee Foods, LLC– North America’s largest canned tuna brand and subsidiary of Fong Chun Formosa Fishery Company, Ltd. (FCF), a Taiwan-based seafood trader ranked as one of the top three in the world – over its marketing claims that it sources its tuna through a “fair and safe supply chain.” The lawsuit highlighted a history of labor problems in the deep sea fishing sector and demanded Bumble Bee show its advertising was backed up by meaningful practices to protect workers and the environment.  Through the settlement, Bumble Bee agreed to remove the disputed statements for ten years.

“Now the work continues to ensure fishers in Bumble Bee’s supply chain and across the sector fish in decent conditions. Wi-Fi access for all fishers in the Taiwan fleet is a first step in that direction,” said Kimberly Rogovin, GLJ-ILRF Senior Seafood Campaign Coordinator.

GLJ-ILRF brought suit under the District of Columbia Consumer Protection Procedures Act, which allows public interest non-profit organizations to bring consumer protection claims on behalf of consumers and the general public. GLJ-ILRF was represented in this case by Richman Law & Policy.

Updates on the Wi-Fi Now for Fishers’ Rights at Sea here

Read GLJ-ILRF’s report Wi-Fi for Fishers at Sea



Global Labor JusticeInternational Labor Rights Forum (GLJ – ILRF) is a non-governmental organization that works transnationally to advance policies and laws that protect decent work; to strengthen freedom of association and workers’ ability to advocate for their rights; and to hold corporations accountable for labor rights violations in their supply chains.