Schlagwort-Archive: ILRF

Urgent: We need your help to keep Bangladeshi workers safe

Five and a half years ago, after the deadliest manufacturing disaster ever – the Rana Plaza building collapse that killed at least 1,134 garment workers in Bangladesh – unions, NGOs, and consumers came together and called for brands and retailers to join a life-saving factory inspection program, the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh. Workers used to fear for their lives when going to work to sew T-shirts and jeans. But today, thanks to the legally-binding agreement signed by more than 200 apparel companies, factory fires and building collapses in Bangladesh’s garment industry have been nearly eradicated with the installation of fire-rated doors, enclosed stairwells, and fire alarm systems.

Now, the program that has taken away the fear of entering the workplace for millions of workers is under threat.

We only have until November 30th! Click here to take immediate action to protect Bangladeshi workers and send a letter to Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Photo by Kristof Vadino
Photo by Kristof Vadino

Earlier this year, a factory owner refusing to pay for life-saving improvements for its workers sued the Accord. Bangladesh’s High Court then used this case as an excuse to level a restraining order against the Accord that would force a premature shut-down of its operations in Bangladesh. Unless this restraining order is lifted, the Accord will have to close its office and leave Bangladesh as of November 30th. Many factories still have critical renovations scheduled to be made under the Accord’s oversight, including strengthening the foundations and the walls that hold the buildings up. Even factories that have completed most of the required repairs could become death traps once again without the Accord, if factory owners return to their unsafe practices of the past such as locking workers inside during business hours.

The only way to protect the progress made by the Accord is to lift the restraining order so that it is permitted to continue operations in Bangladesh. That’s why we’re calling on the Prime Minister to signal strong support for allowing the Accord to continue its important work of making factories safe for millions of garment workers.

There’s only two days before the shutdown deadline – take action so the Accord can finish its work in Bangladesh!

Bangladesh relies on making and selling clothes to international consumers like us – it’s time to raise our voices and make it clear that consumers want clothing made in safe conditions and won’t stand for the expulsion of the Accord!

In solidarity,

Liana Foxvog
Director of Campaigns

Outrageous New Minimum Wage Announced in Bangladesh

Workers united behind the 16,000 taka minimum wage demand



Clean Clothes Campaign
In a climate of fear and intimidation and after months of delays, Bangladeshi authorities have announced the new monthly minimum wage of 8,000 taka (USD 95) for the 4.5 million workers in the garment sector in Bangladesh. This amount shows complete disregard for legitimate workers‘ unions and for the need to set wages through social dialogue.
alles lesen …

Why is this important?

Five years ago H&M committed to paying living wages to textile workers in their supply chain by 2018. [1] Time is running out and workers are still dependent on wages that are far from sufficient.

Without a living wage, workers may be compelled to work excessive hours or multiple jobs just to make ends meet. [2] Some might put their children to work instead of in school. Hundreds of thousands of workers behind H&M’s products are still earning poverty wages and working in poor conditions.

If enough of us, their customer base, come together and speak out about the conditions of their workers, they won’t be able to ignore our demands. Together, we can make H&M seriously worry about their reputation –- and their profits, and push them into action.


[1]“Fair Living Wage – sustainability/our commitments/choose ad reward responsible partners/fair living wage” Document obtained and seen by WeMove. wage


Shrimp Cocktail – with a side of forced labor?

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I still remember when shrimp was a delicacy, served six to an order in a fancy glass with cocktail sauce. But today it has become nearly ubiquitous, served in much larger portions, included on salad bars and party platters – made affordable by the millions of migrants working for poverty wages in the seafood industry.

Please help us raise the outrage about this injustice!

Thailand attracts millions of migrant workers from the much poorer countries of Cambodia and Myanmar, who hope to earn at least the daily minimum of $9.50, even though it still falls short of a living wage. Yet many of these migrant workers – the people who peel the shrimp or risk their lives at sea for months, even years, just to catch the fish to feed those shrimp – are frequently being cheated on their wages or may not even get paid.

In 2013, ILRF exposed child labor and wage theft in shrimp peeling sheds in Thailand, which were supplying Walmart and other US retailers. We have been building a global coalition to fight for migrant workers’ rights in seafood ever since. In recent years, numerous media reports have drawn broad attention to forced labor and human trafficking in Thailand’s seafood industry. And although we are making progress, migrant workers remain vulnerable, with their rights to organize, bargain collectively, and seek legal recourse restricted by law. This fuels forced labor conditions and serious workplace abuses, such as 24-hour shifts; illegal wage deductions that can result in workers actually owing their employer money; and cases of verbal and physical abuse by supervisors.

There are an estimated 3.8 million migrant workers in Thailand whose rights are explicitly restricted under Thai law. Please help support ILRF’s work to push global corporations to address these abuses in their supply chains and advocate for legal protections for these workers.

If you are able, please donate to ILRF today. Individual donors like you make all the difference to these campaigns. With your help, we can continue this fight and support workers in securing the protections they so desperately need!

In solidarity,

Judy Gearhart
Executive Director

Protest at UN demands end to forced labor in Turkmen cotton fields

As I write, in Turkmenistan many schools and hospitals are short-staffed while tens of thousands of citizens – including teachers, doctors, government workers, AND children – are being forced to pick cotton.

This is why earlier this afternoon, during Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov’s first visit to the United States in three years, I protested with members of the Cotton Campaign and allies in front of the United Nations. We called on the UN Secretary General António Guterres to demonstrate a strong commitment to ending forced labor in Turkmenistan’s cotton sector and to demand the release of journalist Gaspar Matalaev, as recommended by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

Demonstration in front of United Nations demands end to forced labor in Turkmenistan

Cotton has a particularly complex supply chain, meaning that it would be nearly impossible for you, as a consumer, to know if you are buying clothing, towels, or bed sheets made from Turkmen cotton. That is why the Cotton Campaign is urging companies, as a first step, to sign the Turkmen Cotton Pledge, committing to not knowingly sourcing Turkmen cotton. Just this week Nike signed on, so we are making progress, which we could not do without your help!

If you are looking for more ways to get involved with this campaign, check out this link!

Please make sure to sign and share our petition to free journalist Gaspar Matalaev, who was imprisoned and tortured after reporting on Turkmenistan’s forced labor practices in the cotton fields.

Together, the International Labor Rights Forum and Freedom United have received over 84,000 signatures. Help us reach our goal of 100,000 people in support of freedom for Gaspar!

In solidarity,

Charlotte Tate
Campaigns Associate

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We’re hiring! + more

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September 2018 E-News

We’re Hiring! Two Job Openings at ILRF
Join Us in NYC on Oct 1: Protest Forced Labor in Turkmenistan
Observing the 6th Anniversary of the Ali Enterprises Factory Fire
New Bangladeshi Minimum Wage is Only Half of Garment Workers‘ Demand
25 CSOs Urge Thai Government to Ratify ILO Convention 188
RSPO Decision on ILRF Labor Complaint Imminent

We’re Hiring! Two Job Openings at ILRF

ILRF is recruiting for two positions to be part of our team in Washington, D.C. The Director of Finance and Administration will play a critical role in strategic decision making and operations with the goal of strengthening internal organizational capacity. The Executive Assistant will support the organization’s communications, administration, and fundraising, working closely with both development and campaigns staff. Please share this announcement with qualified candidates who would be excited to bring their financial, fundraising, communications and administrative skills to supporting ILRF’s advocacy for labor rights and corporate accountability.

We're hiring!

Join Us in NYC on Oct 1: Protest Forced Labor in Turkmenistan

On October 1st, the President of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, will be speaking at the United Nations General Assembly in New York City. Turkmenistan continues to force teachers, doctors, nurses, and government employees to pick cotton during the harvest season, which is happening now. On top of this, children are still being forced to participate in the cotton industry. Join us in telling the United Nations Secretary General António Guterres and the Turkmen President that enough is enough. If you are not able to join, please sign our petition to free journalist Gaspar Matalaev and share it with your network.
Please join us: Monday, October 1st, 12 – 2 p.m. at Ralph Bunche Park, 1st Ave. &, E 42nd St, New York, NY 10017.

End forced labor in Turkmenistan

Observing the 6th Anniversary of the Ali Enterprises Factory Fire

Six years ago, the Ali Enterprises factory in Karachi, Pakistan, went up in flames. The factory employed hundreds of workers, but only had one exit. At least 260 workers died while trapped inside. This was the deadliest fire ever in a garment factory. After the fire, a major campaign ensued that ultimately secured compensation from German company KiK for the affected families. Last week, representing ILRF, Liana Foxvog joined memorial events organized by unions and the Ali Enterprises Factory Fire Affectees Association, including a press conference at the Karachi press club and a rally in front of the burned out building. A number of speakers underscored that Pakistan’s garment factories aren’t any safer than six years ago. Several organizations recently filed a joint complaint to the OECD National Contact Point in Rome against Italian auditor RINA, which had certified the factory as compliant with Social Accountability International’s labor rights standard, SA8000, only weeks before the fire broke out. RINA is still accredited by SAI, through its department, Social Accountability Accreditation Services.

Memorial for the workers who died in the Ali Enterprises factory fire

New Bangladeshi Minimum Wage is Only Half of Garment Workers‘ Demand

On September 13th, Bangladesh raised the minimum wage for its 4 million garment workers, for the first time since 2013. The new monthly minimum wage of 8,000 taka ($95), half of the 16,000 taka demanded by workers, still leaves Bangladesh as paying the lowest wage of any major apparel exporting country. The 16,000 taka demand garnered broad and unified support from trade unions, NGOs and labor rights groups across the world. Workers are demonstrating and preparing for possible strikes over the wage figure, which union leaders say fails to take into account inflation and other factors.

Demonstration in Bangladesh

25 CSOs Urge Thai Government to Ratify ILO Convention 188

The Thai government is wavering on its commitment to ratify ILO Convention 188, the only international convention that specifically covers working and living conditions on commercial fishing vessels. ILRF views this convention as necessary to address issues of forced labor and human trafficking in the Thai fishing industry. In August, the Thai Seafood Working Group facilitated sign-ons for a joint civil society statement urging the Thai government to follow through on its promise of ratifying C.188, and ILRF was a signatory to this letter. ILRF is currently engaging with US brands to garner industry support on this issue.

Fishing vessel

RSPO Decision on ILRF Labor Complaint Imminent

Next week in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the complaints panel of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) will meet to decide whether to suspend the membership of Indonesian palm oil grower Indofood. Nearly two years ago, ILRF co-filed a complaint with Rainforest Action Network and Indonesian labor rights NGO OPPUK documenting child labor, exposure to toxic pesticides, and poverty wages taking place on palm oil plantations owned by Indofood, a major supplier to Pepsi and other snack food companies. A suspension would mark the first time the RSPO has taken formal disciplinary action against a corporate member and increase the pressure on Indofood and Pepsi to deliver meaningful change for workers.

Palm oil worker


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#FreeGaspar on his birthday!


Today is human rights defender Gaspar Matalaev’s 36th birthday, but he will not be able to celebrate with his family and friends. He has been imprisoned since October 2016 for his work documenting state-run forced and child labor in Turkmenistan’s annual cotton harvest.

On May 23, 2018, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions found that the arrest and deprivation of liberty of Gaspar was arbitrary. The UN Working Group called on the Turkmen Government to “release Mr. Matalaev immediately and accord him an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations, in accordance with international law.”

The U.S. State Department’s 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report on Turkmenistan, highlighted that “Authorities allegedly tortured Matalaev and forced him to confess to taking and distributing photographs of the cotton harvest; Matalaev was sentenced to three years in a labor camp and remains imprisoned.”

Help us grant Gaspar’s wish for freedom on his birthday!

  1. Join our social media campaign using the hashtag #FreeGaspar! You can write your own post or use our links to share on Twitter and Facebook.
  2. Sign our petition demanding Gaspar’s freedom! If you have already signed it, pass the link on to friends. We will collect signatures on a rolling basis, delivering it to the Turkmen government at every opportunity until Gaspar is released.

We are calling on the Turkmen government to release Gaspar. It is a critical time to build international pressure in support of Gaspar’s freedom. Please help us today!

Thank you for your support,

Kirill Boychenko
Cotton Campaign Coordinator

Commit to Ending Child Labor Now!

Today, as we commemorate World Day Against Child Labor, we are calling on policymakers, consumers, corporate leaders and individuals everywhere to redouble their commitment to the fight to end child labor. The global community has made great progress over the past twenty years, but recently that progress has slowed. In 2016 the International Labour Organization (ILO) reported there were still 152 million child laborers – which is exactly 152 million too many. Those are children who are losing out on their childhood, their education, and their future.

Twenty years ago, ILRF was deep in the thick of the Global March Against Child Labor. Our founding director, Pharis Harvey, joined the march in India and the over seven million people expressing solidarity for the Global March across five continents. Bama Athreya, my predecessor at ILRF, helped engineer the complicated logistics that come with such an endeavor. Bama, now a Labor and Employment Rights Specialist at USAID, recently posted a blog analyzing how far we’ve come in the past twenty years.

The Global March, led by 2014 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and former ILRF board member, Kailash Satyarthi, did much more than raise awareness and mobilize activists. It helped drive significant policy change and the adoption of ILO Convention 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labor. The March also set a positive example by making sure children, many recently freed from bonded child labor, were in the lead, demonstrating actively their interest and ability to organize for change. I met one of those former child laborers, Basu Rai, at the ILO annual meetings last week. Basu, pictured above as a child with Satyarthi, is now a full-time activist and he recalls having been freed from child labor in Nepal and participating in the Global March’s arrival at the ILO in Geneva in 1998. Basu recounts standing on desks at the ILO and chanting “No more tools for tiny hands. We want books. We want toys.” Basu is giving back to Nepali society as an organizer and changemaker, his commitment to ending child labor unwavering.

In 2012, the ILO reported a 22% decrease in child labor over the previous four years. But from 2012 through 2016, the percent decrease was less than 10%. What’s worse, the decline in hazardous child labor – the most dangerous and debilitating form of child labor – has slowed even more, decreasing by 26% between 2008 and 2012 and by only 15% between 2012 and 2016.

The fight to end child labor is a global goal that needs to be addressed country by country and industry by industry. Nearly every global supply chain is affected, which means everyone has a role to play in ending child labor. The ILRF-housed Cotton Campaign was instrumental in ending nationwide state-sponsored child labor in Uzbekistan’s cotton sector, but continued activism is needed to transform the industry into one with decent pay and working conditions. In Liberia’s rubber sector, local trade unions won collective bargaining rights, thanks to transnational support and pressure on Firestone. They then went on to negotiate better wages and working conditions, which significantly reduced child labor in the sector.

Additionally, ILRF’s long time campaign to end child labor in West Africa’s cocoa sector is finally gaining traction and we have recently seen a significant shift in the chocolate industry. For 18 years, ILRF campaigned for chocolate companies to help stop child labor by ensuring farmers’ access to a livable income, but the industry responded with an emphasis on improving farmers’ yields, with no tracking of their impact on net income and family livelihoods. In late 2016, however, the World Cocoa Foundation President, Rick Scobey, started acknowledging the need to address farmer incomes and cooperate more closely with NGOs.

Yet there are still many chocolate companies not fully onboard with a holistic approach to addressing both child labor and cocoa farmers’ poverty. Ironically, one of the most high end chocolate companies – Godiva – is lagging furthest behind in their commitments and urgently needs an added push to improve.   Green America is hosting a petition to Godiva, supported by ILRF, which asks Godiva to ensure the farmers in their supply chain are lifted out of poverty and to establish effective child labor monitoring and remediation programs.

Signing the Green America petition is one small way readers can support the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal of ending child labor by 2025. It would be a major victory if one of the most popular luxury chocolate brands in the world won’t committed to lifting cocoa farmers out of poverty and ending child labor]. As Kailash Satyarthi said during his recent speech at the ILO, “These are human beings.  These are all our children.”


Transforming Worker Rights on the Open Seas


Unsustainable fishing practices drain the oceans of fish and subject vulnerable workers on fishing vessels to severe forms of labor exploitation. As news of horrific abuse on fishing vessels continue to shock the public, the number of initiatives attempting to address human rights abuses in seafood supply chains has proliferated. While some of these initiatives claim to have a worker voice component, the freedom to associate and collectively bargain that underpins respect for human rights is conspicuously absent.

ILRF is calling for a new way forward – one in which binding agreements ensure retailers and seafood brands take responsibility for conditions in their supply chains and crew are empowered to secure effective remedy when their rights are violated.

This vision is outlined in a blog ILRF released today, which is a preview of a report ILRF will release in one week. Taking Stock: Labor exploitation, illegal fishing and brand responsibility in the seafood industry documents the results of ILRF’s Independent Monitoring at Sea (IM@Sea) project, and lays out a path forward for industry actors and government agencies aiming to fulfill their human rights responsibilities in the seafood sector. In addition to providing principles and lessons learned, Taking Stock is a call to action for companies all along the seafood supply chain, and governments with oversight responsibility to adopt effective, worker-centered tools and policies to ensure respect for human rights in the global seafood trade.

The report launch event will be an opportunity for stakeholders and practitioners from labor, government, industry and civil society to discuss how the principles and proposals detailed in the report might be implemented. We hope it will serve as a platform from which to launch worker-driven solutions for a more just trade in seafood.

In Solidarity,

Andy Shen
Senior Legal and Policy Analyst

ILRF is hiring! And more spring updates

April 2018 E-News

Join Our Team!
The Fight for Dignity in Honduras
Day of Action at Abercrombie & Fitch
New ILRF Report Highlights “Wrong Turn” in CAFTA Arbitration Decision
Legal Attacks Against Human Rights Defenders in Thailand
What Is the Significance of China’s #MeToo Movement?
What Has Changed Since Rana Plaza?
Save the Date: 2018 Labor Rights Defenders Awards

Join Our Team!

ILRF is looking for an energetic campaigner to help us build worker power and promote social justice in global agricultural commodity supply chains. Please see more details at this job description. Applications due April 23.

Photo courtesy of Rini Templeton

The Fight for Dignity in Honduras

In Honduras, defending your rights at work can cost you your life. If you are in Washington, D.C., join us for this event, which will highlight how workers in Honduras are standing up to corporations that exploit, harm and impoverish people in the name of profit. We will examine U.S. policy, violence against worker rights activists, and the root causes of the current migration crisis. Meet Honduran trade unionist, Tomas Membreño, and learn about how we can support workers in Honduras who are fighting for justice in their workplaces!

Thursday, April 19, 2:00 – 3:00pm  |  Solidarity Center, 1130 Connecticut Ave NW #800, Washington, DC 20036

Photo courtesy of Rel UITA

Day of Action at Abercrombie & Fitch

During the week of April 18-24, 2018, leading up to the fifth anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse, students, union members, consumers, and activists around the world will join in a Global Week of Action calling on laggard apparel brands to sign the 2018 Accord. A&F must sign the renewed Accord and recommit to protecting the lives of the people who make their profit possible. Join ILRF, Workers United (SEIU), and United Students Against Sweatshops in the streets to send a message to Abercrombie: the risk of another factory fire is too high.

New ILRF Report Highlights “Wrong Turn” in CAFTA Arbitration Decision

Despite finding that the Government of Guatemala repeatedly failed to effectively enforce its labor laws, as required under CAFTA, the arbitration panel concluded that the U.S. failed to prove these violations occurred “in a manner affecting trade,” letting Guatemala off the hook. Our new report takes the panel to task for its narrow, economistic approach to the case, including its refusal to consider reports from the International Labour Organization, United Nations, and prominent NGOs with overwhelming evidence of the government’s widespread failure to enforce its labor laws. It concludes with recommendations on how to fix NAFTA and other future trade deals so that labor standards are enforceable in practice.

Photo courtesy of Maria Fleischman/World Bank

Legal Attacks Against Human Rights Defenders in Thailand

Migrant rights advocate Andy Hall has been ordered to pay 10 million baht ($321,000) in civil damages to the pineapple company Natural Fruit Co. Ltd. Hall was a researcher on a report published by the Finnish NGO FinnWatch that documented egregious labor exploitation at factories owned by Natural Fruit, which then brought two criminal cases and two civil cases against Hall. Litigation to silence human rights defenders who expose human rights violations in business operations continues to be a serious problem in Thailand. You can send a message in support of 14 migrant workers facing similar charges for exposing conditions of forced labor at a chicken farm here.

What Is the Significance of China’s #MeToo Movement?

As feminist activists popularize the #MeToo movement in China, sexual harassment at work is getting more public attention. Journalists and Foxconn workers alike are calling for greater scrutiny and safeguards against harassment. This conversation, which features ILRF’s Kevin Lin, looks at the legal, workplace and civil society solutions, and their challenges and risks.

What Has Changed Since Rana Plaza?

Just two weeks before the fifth anniversary of the Rana Plaza building collapse – the deadliest disaster in the history of manufacturing – scholars, journalists, human rights advocates, and corporate and labor leaders from the U.S., Europe, and Bangladesh came together at the Ford Foundation in New York City to assess the state of workplace safety and labor rights in Bangladesh’s massive garment industry. Check out a short video clip from Mem Akter, General Secretary of the Dress and Dismatic Workers‘ Union, or watch the full event livestream here. The event has been covered by news sources like Racked, Fashionista and Women’s Wear Daily. You can also read the reports distributed during this event here and here.

Photo courtesy of ILRF

Get Your Tickets for the 2018 Labor Rights Defenders Awards

Please join us this year on May 9th in Washington, DC to honor the bravery and dedication of four leading labor rights defenders:

  • Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights (CENTRAL) in Cambodia
  • Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT)
  • Mary Ann Stein, Moriah Fund

Can’t join us on May 9th? Please show your support for ILRF by sponsoring the 2018 Labor Rights Defenders Awards or by making a tax-deductible donation. All donations support the International Labor Rights Forum as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, in accordance with IRS regulations.

Photo courtesy of UNITE HERE

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Announcing: National Day of Action at Abercrombie

107 years ago, 146 garment workers – mostly teenagers and young women, nearly all immigrants – died in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. This Friday, Workers United/SEIU (ILGWU) will present the Official Commemoration at the site of the fire in downtown Manhattan. Even if you’re not in New York, visit the Remember the Triangle Coalition’s website to find ways to support the coalition.

Until six years ago, the fire of March 25, 1911, had been the deadliest in the history of the global garment industry. Since then two tragedies – one fire and one building collapse – in South Asia have surpassed the death toll.

That is why, for ILRF, this anniversary is a time for action as well as reflection. It’s time to urge all companies to put strong safety measures into place! All year we have been encouraging apparel brands and retailers to sign onto the three-year renewal of the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety – a legally binding agreement signed with two global unions and eight Bangladeshi unions. Already more than 120 companies have done so – including Zara, H&M, Fruit of the Loom, and Tommy Hilfiger – but others have refused.

One leading brand that signed the original Accord, but is refusing to renew their commitment to worker safety in Bangladesh, is Abercrombie & Fitch.

We thank all our supporters who have sent emails to A&F through our online action. But that has not been enough. That is why today we are launching a plan for a day of action at Abercrombie stores around the country, on Saturday, April 21st. The day of protest will be part of a Global Week of Action.

You can find information on how to get involved and find an action near you here!

Would you please let us know if you’ll show up at an Abercrombie & Fitch store near you?

In solidarity,

Liana Foxvog