Press Releases

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Uzbekistan: Efforts Underway to End Forced Labor

Cotton Campaign and Uzbek Government Deepen Dialogue, Urgent Work Remains
11/01/19
The Cotton Campaign met with the government of Uzbekistan in Washington last week to discuss reform efforts to end forced labor in Uzbekistan’s cotton harvest, which is currently underway. The Uzbek delegation, headed by Minister of Investments and Foreign Trade Sardor Umurzakov, presented its Roadmap to combat forced labor, which seeks to address the key concerns raised by the Cotton Campaign in its dialogue with the government.
 

Uzbekistan: Amidst reform effort, journalists and activists face criminal charges, arbitrary detention, forced psychiatric treatment

10/16/19

The Cotton Campaign calls on the Uzbek government to drop criminal charges against Mahmud Rajab, a poet, journalist, and human rights defender, whose trial on contraband charges is set to begin Thursday. The government should also stop interfering with independent reporting on human rights issues, including forced labor.

Garment Workers in Pakistan Need a Worker-Led Factory Safety Program

09/11/19

Seven years since the Ali Enterprises factory fire of 2012, in which over 250 workers were killed, textile and garment factories in Pakistan remain as unsafe as they were then, warns a report launched today. Initiatives established in the past years have failed to put workers and the unions that represent them in the centre of their programs and therefore will fail to meaningfully address the industry’s safety issues.

Gaspar Matalaev Free after Three Years of Unjust Imprisonment

Sentenced in retaliation for reporting on forced labor in cotton fields
09/09/19

Gaspar Matalaev, a labor rights monitor from Turkmenistan, was released from prison on September 6 after three years’ imprisonment in retaliation for his reporting on forced labor, the Cotton Campaign said today. A court in Turkmenabat sentenced Matalaev on spurious charges of fraud in 2016 and Matalaev served the entire three-year sentence.

New Safety Initiative in India Ignores Vital Lessons from the Past

08/28/19
A building safety initiative launching in India today, aimed at improving safety for workers in the country’s garment industry, is set on a path to ignore workers’ voices and replicate mistakes from the past. Although the “Life and Building Safety Initiative” professes to learn from the program that made factories safe in Bangladesh after the Rana Plaza building collapse, it ignores its most vital elements.
 

NGOs Call on U.S. Customs to Block Import of Forced Labor Palm Oil

Procter & Gamble major importer of “illicit” palm oil products produced by Malaysia’s FGV
08/15/19

Today a coalition of labor, environmental, and social justice NGOs filed a formal complaint with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), seeking to stop the importation of palm oil products produced by FGV Holdings Berhad (FGV), one of Malaysia’s largest palm oil companies and a joint venture partner of Procter & Gamble. 

The Bangladesh Accord continues to operate but its independence may be at risk

06/13/19

As witness signatories to the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, we are concerned about the potential negative impact on worker safety, both short-term and long-term, of the recently concluded Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Accord and the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and the diverging interpretations that have emerged over the last few weeks.[1]

Costco Ceases Orders Following Union-Busting on Fyffes’ Honduran Plantations

Labor Rights Groups Urge Other Supermarkets to Make their Business with Fyffes Contingent on Remediation of Labor Violations
06/11/19

Following letters to Costco Wholesale from Fair World Project and the International Labor Rights Forum urging the retailer to make future purchase orders with fruit company Fyffes contingent on the cessation of labor rights violations, Costco has confirmed that it has not placed future orders for melons from the Fyffes operations where ongoing violations occur. Fyffes is an Irish multinational company owned by the Japanese conglomerate Sumitomo, and is one of the largest fruit brands in the world.

MSC’s New Labor Requirements Will Not Protect Seafood Workers

Thirteen human rights and environmental groups express concern over revised Chain of Custody certification
06/10/19

A group of leading labor, human rights, and environmental organizations released a statement today expressing concern over the labor requirements in the Marine Stewardship Council’s revised Chain of Custody certification for on-shore seafood operations. The new requirements, released earlier this year, will not be effective in identifying, preventing and protecting seafood workers from labor rights violations, the statement says.

Amidst Wave of Deadly Fires, Bangladesh Government Threatens to Expel the Only Credible Building Safety Program in the Country and Further Suppress Workers’ Rights

04/23/19

On the sixth anniversary of the Rana Plaza building collapse, labor rights groups are calling on the government of Bangladesh to cease attempts to expel the Accord on Fire and Building Safety from Bangladesh and to urgently increase safety efforts for the buildings currently under the government’s oversight, which include tens of thousands of factories across all industries. 

Labor Rights Groups Call on Blackstone to Pay $10.8 Million Legally Owed to Indonesian Workers

Amount is Approximately Half of What Chairman Stephen Schwarzman Reportedly Spent on His 70th Birthday Party; International Social Media Campaign Launched to Persuade Financial Giant to Do What Other Apparel Players Now Do
04/02/19

In light of new reporting by Ken Silverstein, the International Labor Rights Forum, AFL-CIO, United Students Against Sweatshops, and Global Labor Justice are calling on the Blackstone Group to pay Indonesian workers $10.8 million in legally owed terminal benefits.

Government of Bangladesh Not Ready to Take Over Accord’s Safety Work

04/02/19

The government of Bangladesh is using proceedings before the Supreme Court of Bangladesh to prevent the Accord on Fire and Building Safety from operating, thereby putting workers’ safety at risk. A ruling on 7 April in Bangladesh’s Appellate Court could require the Accord to close its Dhaka office and operations without taking into account whether national agencies would be ready to take up the work.

Labor and Human Rights Groups Urge Multi-Stakeholder Initiatives and Business Associations in the Apparel Sector to Adopt Transparency Requirements

Fair Labor Association Makes Significant Move to Require Affiliates to Disclose Supplier Lists
03/14/19

In response to requests from trade unions, and other independent labor rights and human rights organizations, on February 27 the Fair Labor Association (FLA) voted to require its company affiliates to publicly disclose their supplier lists. Details concerning the implementation of this decision, including the scope of disclosure, remain to be seen.

Fyffes’ Women’s Day Announcement Attempts to Distract Consumers and Investors from Union-Busting on its Farms

03/08/19

 

Fyffes’ announcement about its new “Global Gender Equality Program” today, on International Women’s Day, fell flat with trade unionists in Honduras. Fyffes is an Irish multinational company owned by the Japanese conglomerate Sumitomo, and one of the largest fruit brands in the world and the top importer of winter-season melons to the U.S. market. Right now, Fyffes is exporting many of these melons from Honduras.

 

Dhaka fire shows Bangladesh desperately needs better safety systems

03/06/19

On the night of 20 February a fire broke out and rapidly spread through the densely packed Chawkbazar district in Dhaka, Bangladesh. At least 70 people died in the fire that was exacerbated by illegally stored, highly combustible chemicals in the buildings. This horrible tragedy lays bare a pressing problem in Bangladesh: the use of residential buildings and areas for industrial purposes beyond the ready-made-garment industry, which creates serious safety hazards that remain as yet unchecked by national safety enforcement systems.

 

Garment factory fire confirms Bangladeshi inspection agencies are not yet up to their task

03/06/19

A fire in a Bangladeshi garment factory in Dhaka this week injured eight people, local media reports say. This tragic incident happened during a period of uncertainty and negotiation about the future of the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh: the one international safety programme that has significantly improved worker safety in the garment industry since the 2013 Rana Plaza collapse. This week’s fire confirms that, despite the Bangladesh government’s assertions to the contrary, national inspection bodies are not yet ready to take over this important work.

Progress made since Rana Plaza collapse at risk

02/15/19

The safety program that has been instrumental in restoring international trust in its garment industry after the deadly Rana Plaza collapse of 2013 risks being expelled from the country without a credible alternative in place. Negotiations between signatories of the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety and the government of Bangladesh have grounded to a halt, as Bangladeshi authorities have thus far refused to accept any other outcome than a swift and unconditional handover of the Accord’s tasks to national inspection entities.

 

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