Summer News Roundup

International Labor Rights Forum

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August 2017 E-News

Ivanka Inc: An Investigation
Pepsi Continues to Ignore Child Labor
Bangladesh Accord Renewed for Three More Years
Tackling Human Trafficking in The Fishing Industry
Global Day of Action Against Nike
World Largest Tuna Company Signs Sustainability Agreement
Anti-Union Laws Threaten Independent Unions in Cambodia
Report Reveals Forced Labor in World Bank Project Areas
Is Foxconn a Fantasy?


Ivanka Inc: An Investigation

A recent Washington Post investigation into Ivanka Trump’s supply chain revealed that her apparel and footwear company relies exclusively on overseas factories in countries like Bangladesh, Indonesia and China, where wages are low and the rights of the primarily female workforce are often repressed. This is despite the fact that her father, President Trump, continues to push an “America First” agenda with an emphasis on bringing manufacturing back to the United States, and Ivanka herself recently wrote a book to support #WomenWhoWork. But, as ILRF’s partner, Kalpona Akter, executive director of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity, told Post reporters, these women garment workers “are making you beautiful, but [they] are starving.”

Photo courtesy of rsumpoty on Flickr

Pepsi Continues to Ignore Child Labor

More than a year has passed since the publication of a report showing child labor, exposure to toxic pesticides, and other serious labor rights violations in PepsiCo’s palm oil supply chain. And yet, PepsiCo has failed to take meaningful steps to remedy the abuses. This blog exposes why your “sustainable” palm oil may still be harvested by workers suffering abusive conditions.

Photo courtesy of ILRF

Bangladesh Accord Renewed for Three More Years

Earlier this summer, global unions and brands announced that the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety will be extended for three more years. This extension builds on the first Accord, initially signed in May 2013 after the Rana Plaza building collapse. In addition to maintaining the legally binding framework already established, it adds new worker protections. The new Accord also opens the door to a possible negotiated expansion of scope, to include factories that make related products like home textiles and footwear, as well as thread and cloth. ILRF will remain a witness signatory and will continue to encourage additional improvements to the agreement such as expanding its coverage to include boiler safety.

Photo courtesy of ILRF

Tackling Human Trafficking in The Fishing Industry

Worker organizations have a critical role to play in countering human trafficking in the fishing industry, according to a recent piece by Bama Athreya, former ILRF executive director, who is currently a Labor and Employment Rights Specialist at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The piece highlights IM@SEA, an ILRF project funded by the USAID Supply Unchained initiative, in which ILRF partners with the Migrant Workers Rights Network to collect near real-time data to identify human trafficking risks on fishing vessels. Learn more about how this partnership, and others like them, can be leveraged to support some of the world’s most exploited workers.

Photo courtesy of USAID

Global Day of Action Against Nike

On July 29th, students, workers and community members gathered at Nike stores around the world to protest their refusal to allow independent monitors into their factories. This action comes after nearly two years of campaigning over Nike’s abuse of workers at a Nike contract factory in Vietnam who suffered wage theft and verbal abuse, and labored for hours in temperatures well over the legal limit of 90F degrees, “to the point that they would collapse at their sewing machines.” Check out footage of the action from our DC livestream here, and add your signature to the petition here.

Photo courtesy of United Students Against Sweatshops

World Largest Tuna Company Signs Sustainability Agreement

Thai Union, the world’s largest tuna producer, signed an agreement with Greenpeace to “source more sustainably and responsibly.” After two years of pressure from a coalition of environmental and labor groups, including ILRF, the company agreed to tackle practices in its supply chain that fuel illegal fishing activity and worker exploitation. Included in the agreement are measures to curtail the labor abuses that commonly occur on fishing boats. See the agreement details in full here.

Photo courtesy of ILRF

Anti-Union Laws Threaten Independent Unions in Cambodia

This month, the Cambodian National Institute of Statistics will begin surveying garment workers in preparation for minimum wage negotiations. However, grassroots unions and labor NGOs say a series of laws, some passed and some proposed, are hindering their ability to organize workers around wages. The undermining of independent advocates is especially concerning, given that Cambodia’s upcoming 2018 elections are thought to be the first chance in more than 30 years that the ruling Cambodian People’s Party may not maintain their power. Read more in our blog about what to look out for.


Report Reveals Forced Labor in World Bank Project Areas

Cotton Campaign members Uzbek-German Forum for Human Rights and Human Rights Watch recently released their report, “‘We Can’t Refuse to Pick Cotton’: Forced and Child Labor Linked to World Bank Group Investments in Uzbekistan,” which details how the Uzbek government forced students, teachers, medical workers, other government employees, private-sector employees, and sometimes children to harvest cotton in 2015 and 2016, as well as to weed the fields and plant cotton in the spring of 2016. This report is critical as this year’s harvest nears; some citizens have already reported being ordered into the cotton fields. You can add your name to the petition directed towards World Bank President Jim Yong Kim here.

Photo courtesy of UGF

Is Foxconn a Fantasy?

President Trump announced that Foxconn, owner of the notorious Shenzhen, China factory complex where 14 workers committed suicide in 2010, plans to open a factory in Wisconsin. Though the administration is touting this as a victory, there are reasons to believe the jobs won’t materialize and if they do, may not be jobs with livable wages and acceptable working conditions. This blog by ILRF staff member Sarah Newell explores the questions we should be asking in the face of this announcement.

Photo courtesy of Prachatai on Flickr
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