Press Releases

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ILRF Calls on U.S. Customs Service to Halt Imports of Forced Labor Cotton from Uzbekistan


A formal complaint against the importation of cotton from Uzbekistan grown and harvested with forced labor was filed today by the International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF), a leading American human and labor rights watchdog organization. Under the Tariff Act of 1930, the U.S. Customs Service is required to deny entry to goods that arrive at U.S. ports that contain materials made with forced labor.

ILRF Applauds Companies for Signing Legally-Binding Safety Accord


The International Labor Rights Forum welcomes announcements made this week by seventeen companies -- Aldi, Benetton, C&A, Carrefour, El Corte Inglés, G-Star, H&M, Helly Hansen, Inditex (Zara), KIK, Loblaw, M&S, Mango, N. Brown group, Primark, Stockmann, Tesco – to sign onto a legally-binding safety program for their apparel supplier factories in Bangladesh, with IndustriALL Global Union, UNI Global Union, and Bangladeshi unions.

ILRF Urges US Brands and Retailers to Join Bangladesh Factory Safety Agreement


At least 170 workers died and hundreds were injured when apparel factories collapsed in the Rana Plaza building in Dhaka, Bangladesh today. Families continue to search for survivors. This disaster comes just 5 months after the fire at Tazreen Fashions garment factory near Dhaka, which killed 112 workers on November 24, 2012. Walmart-labeled product was found in Tazreen and now one of the factories in the Rana complex, Ether-Tex, had listed Walmart-Canada as a buyer on their website. Walmart has yet to contribute to the worker compensation fund for Tazreen victims.

With 7 Workers Dead in Another Preventable Fire, Labor Groups Implore Apparel Brands to Sign Safety Agreement


Following the fire that killed at least seven people today who were locked inside Smart Export Garments Ltd in Dhaka, the International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF), the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) and the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) called on major retailers and brands that buy apparel from Bangladesh to join the labor-supported Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement in order to prevent future tragedies. 

As German TV reveals abuses, global unions challenge DHL to act


Following a German TV report on Deutsche Post DHL’s treatment of its international workforce, the ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) and UNI global union have called on the company to clean up its act. The multinational logistics giant’s behavior was questioned on Tuesday night by German national broadcaster ARD TV Das Erste’s respected Report programme, which highlighted the long running struggle for union rights in the company.

Labor Groups Urge US and European Governments to Press Apparel Brands to Sign Bangladesh Factory Safety Agreement

Walmart Supplier Factory is Latest in a Series of Deadly Fires; Groups Promote Comprehensive Solution to Save Lives

Labor and human rights groups in the US and Europe are calling on U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and European governments to press apparel brands and retailers to join the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement, after a fire in Bangladesh claimed the lives of 112 workers at Tazreen Fashions.

ILRF Calls on Brands to Join Fire Safety Program Following Deadly Fire

Death Toll at Walmart Supplier is Highest in Bangladesh Garment Industry to Date

More than one hundred workers died as a result of the garment factory fire that started on Saturday evening at Tazreen Fashions, owned by Tuba Group. Together with our partners in Bangladesh and around the world, ILRF is calling for an independent and transparent investigation into the causes of the fire; full and fair compensation to be paid to injured workers and to the families of the deceased; and effective action from all parties involved to prevent future tragedies.

Government Suppliers Rank Lower than Apparel Industry Average on Child and Forced Labor


Today Free2Work released the most comprehensive picture to date of any sector’s corporate social responsibility efforts on child and forced labor. The new report, “The Story Behind the Barcode: Apparel Industry Trends from Farm to Factory,” ranks 300 apparel brands on their efforts to address child and forced labor from cotton farms to textile plants and garment factories. These products make their way to store shelves in the US and are also bought with taxpayer dollars.

Factory certification body fails to assist victims of Karachi factory fire

Labour rights groups call upon Social Accountability International (SAI) to release information on brand buyers and factory audit reports
  • Victims of tragic factory fire in Pakistan are denied  crucial information to hold brand buyers accountable
  • SAI and SAAS refuse to cooperate in identifying international buyers that were at the factory or release the findings of accredited auditor
  • SA8000 certification gave clean bill of health to Ali Enterprises factory that went up in flames and cost the lives of nearly 300 garment workers

Whole Foods Drops Hershey’s Scharffen Berger Chocolates Over Child Labor Abuses

Consumers Pressure Whole Foods to Drop Hershey’s Dagoba Line as well

Whole Foods Market (NYSE: WFM) locations around the country will be removing one of Hershey’s high end products– Scharffen Berger chocolate– from shelves across the country by the end of the year due to Hershey’s failure to assure that the cocoa is sourced without the use of forced child labor.

Raise the Bar, Hershey! Campaign Welcomes Hershey's Announcement to Source 100% Certified Cocoa by 2020

Coalition urges Hershey and all chocolate companies to go 100% Fair Trade

The Raise the Bar, Hershey! Campaign ( welcomed today’s announcement from the Hershey Co. (HSY) that it will be certifying 100 percent of its cocoa by 2020 and urged the chocolate giant to go 100 percent Fair Trade with incremental benchmarks. Hershey appeared to join its main rival Mars in announcing its target for certification with a 2020 deadline.

Gap, Abercrombie, and JCPenney Lag Behind on Factory Safety Initiatives

Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein, now joined by European retailer Tchibo, have already agreed to fix death trap factories in Bangladesh

Over 600 garment workers have been killed in garment factories in Bangladesh during the past six years while sewing clothing destined for North America and Europe. The September 11, 2012, garment factory blaze in Karachi, Pakistan – which killed 289 workers, making it the world’s deadliest industrial accident on record – is the latest reminder of the urgency by which brands must adopt proper safety measures to protect workers’ lives.

Consumer-Owned Grocery Retailers Call On Hershey To Address Child Slave Labor In Cocoa

Retailers express concern about carrying Hershey's Dagoba and Scharffenberger chocolates

Forty-one consumer-owned grocer cooperatives and natural food retailers operating 62 stores released an open letter today calling on The Hershey Company to take action to end child slave labor on cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast (Cote D'Ivoire). The retailers are asking Hershey to fully commit to ethically sourced cocoa produced under fair labor standards.

Hershey's Transgressions Mount on World Day Against Child Labor

Advocacy groups unite to appeal to Hershey’s leadership to honor Milton Hershey’s legacy and protect children, students, and guestworkers

Leaders of several prominent human rights, consumer, and healthcare groups spoke out today in an appeal to Hershey’s leadership demanding reforms to the candy maker’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices, including the company’s ongoing use of abusive child labor in cocoa production. This appeal coincides with World Day Against Child Labor, a global effort to raise awareness of the issue of child labor, organized by the UN’s International Labor Organization (ILO). 

Bangladesh: Investigate Killing of Labor Activist


Union Organizer Aminul Islam’s Body Bore Signs of Torture

(New York, April 12, 2012) –­ The Bangladesh authorities should  immediately and impartially investigate the killing of the labor rights activist Aminul Islam, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed. Islam, 39, was a trade union organizer with the Bangladesh Center for Workers Solidarity (BCWS).