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International Women’s Day: It’s About Women’s Wages & Women’s Voices

Many versions abound about how International Women’s Day came to be, but all stories lead back to 1908 when 15,000 women marched through New York City protesting violence against garment workers and demanding better pay, better working conditions and voting rights.  Their slogan was Bread and Roses – signifying the need for better wages and a better quality of life.  In 1909 women workers marched again in Chicago, officially kick-starting a National Women’s Day.  The next year, European women proposed building on the US idea and agreed to make March 8th International Women’s Day.  This is one of the great manifestations of international solidarity among workers and women in particular.

KMU slams death threat vs. Mindanao labor leader

National labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno condemned today the contractor of a Japanese banana company for harassing and issuing a death threat against a union leader in southern Mindanao.

Vicente Barrios, president of the Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Suyapa Farm (Namasufa-National Federation of Labor Unions-KMU), was fired upon and held at gunpoint by Jesus Jamero, contractor of Japanese banana company Sumifru.

Barrios was leading about 100 of Sumifru’s workers in a picket-protest in front of Jamero’s residence in Compostela Valley when the contractor came out carrying a gun.

Police and employers together threaten union activists for organizing brick kiln workers in Bhilwara Rajasthan

Madan Vaishnav, Secretary, Rajasthan Pradesh Int Bhatta Majdoor Union, along with three other union organizers – Shanti Lal Meena, Ratan Lal Bheel, and Shaitan Singh Raigar – was served a notice by the Sub Division Officer Mandal under Section 107/116 restraining him from undertaking provocative activities viz. organizing brick kiln workers. Mandal town has almost 100 brick kilns in its vicinity mostly employing inter-state seasonal migrants from UP and Bihar. The Rajasthan Pradesh Int Bhatta Majdoor Union was registered last year to organize these workers so that they can get minimum wages and other rights. Last year the workers had gone on a strike for three days demanding higher wages. During the strike the owners had attacked a procession of workers.

Burmese workers in Thailand organize, negotiate and win!

Protestors shutting down Bangkok to force the current government from power have grabbed international headlines this week. Meanwhile, efforts for a quieter revolution to improve the power dynamic between millions of migrant workers and their Thai employers took a significant step forward an hour south of Bangkok in Samut Sakhorn, one of the primary seafood processing areas in Thailand. Workers from one of the largest shrimp factories here have negotiated a settlement with their employer and developed an agreement for a representative labor committee within the factory.

How the U.S. Government Can Follow Its Own Advice to Be a Responsible Consumer

Today, the New York Times reports child labor, blocked fire exits, unsafe buildings, forced overtime and a range of other illegal, unsafe, and abusive conditions for garment workers in factories in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Haiti, Mexico, and Thailand.  These factories have at least one thing in common: the United States government is a customer.   That means these abuses take place with the support of our tax dollars and are carried out in our names.  It also means the Obama administration “flouts its own advice” to private sector companies to use their purchasing power to improve working conditions in overseas garment factories.

Justice for Workers on International Migrants Day

December 18, International Migrants Day, is a day to reflect on the growing impact of worker migration and urge policies to protect these often vulnerable workers. The global economy is fueling a rise in workers leaving their homes in search of better opportunities. Also on the rise, sadly, is gross exploitation of an often vulnerable population, far from their homes and networks of support, and often reliant on their employers for their very right to remain in country.

Bangladesh garment factory crisis is a women's crisis

The crisis in the Bangladesh Apparel industry is really a women’s issue and something all advocates of women’s rights and equality should be deeply concerned about. To be clear, we are not talking here about individual cases of discrimination at work and the need for more equitable labor justice – although there is a need for improving that as well.

Our focus here is on systemic, society-wide discrimination and development strategies that have further entrenched that discrimination. These issues echo around the world in industry after industry built primarily on women’s labor. But they have been brought into stark relief in Bangladesh, where more than 1,200 workers – most of them women – have died during the last year due to negligence and disregard for their welfare.

Workers Give Message to RSPO: Don’t Certify Abuse!

Medan, Indonesia—This week hundreds of oil palm workers and their allies crashed the 11th annual meeting of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), a multi-stakeholder organization that promotes “sustainable” palm oil, to protest the organization’s failure to uphold its own labor standards. 

Arriving in colorful rain jackets on motorbikes and small pick-ups, the protesters braved a torrential downpour to deliver a blunt message to the RSPO: Stop certifying worker exploitation.

PALEA Back as Regular Workers in Pact with PAL

The union Philippine Airlines Employees' Association (PALEA) hailed a settlement agreement signed today with the management of Philippine Airlines (PAL) that provides for the re-employment of some 600 members as regular workers. In a private ceremony in a downtown hotel in Mandaluyong at noon, officers of PAL and PALEA signed the agreement.

ILRF Loses Leading Child Rights Advocate

All of us at ILRF were tremendously saddened to learn that U. Roberto Romano – our beloved Robin – passed away at his home last week. Robin was a tireless advocate for children’s rights, as well as an inspiring and supportive colleague. He was also an amazing cinematographer and highly acclaimed filmmaker, who dedicated his life to reporting on and exposing the exploitation of children. For ILRF, Robin’s support and guidance was essential to keeping a spotlight on this ongoing global tragedy. 

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