Schlagwort-Archive: ILRF

ILO votes to stop gender-based violence at work!

Judy Gearhart, International Labor Rights Forum

It’s with great joy that we’re celebrating the International Labour Organization’s adoption of both a Convention and Recommendation on Violence and Harassment in the World of Work. The historic treaty passed today at the ILO’s centennial assembly in a 439-7 vote, with 30 abstentions. This is the first international standard specifically aimed at addressing these issues in the workplace – and it’s all because of the tireless organizing by unions and worker centers around the world.

Last week we wrote about three critical elements that the labor side fought to include in the Convention and Recommendation. I’m thrilled to let you know that all three are covered in the new standard:

2018 ILRF Awards Awardees M. Stein & CENTRAL by T. Mahal Photography 2018 ILRF Awards CENTRAL by T. Mahal Photography
ILRF Executive Director Judy Gearhart with CGT in San Pedro Sula, Honduras International Women’s Day demonstration in support of an ILO Convention in Phnom Penh, Cambodia Making signs ahead of an IWD demonstration in support of an ILO Convention in Dhaka, Bangladesh

Now, the struggle must continue. An international standard is only valuable when it can be leveraged to protect workers on the ground in real time. Each individual country must now ratify the Convention, and unions are already preparing for country-level campaigns to get their elected officials to vote in support of it.

While governments have a specific process for ratification, that doesn’t mean action needs to wait on the legal process. And multinational corporations should not wait for new national laws to implement strong policies against gender-based violence in their supply chains. Here at ILRF we will continue supporting our partners who are organizing in their countries for strong protections against violence and harassment, and we are grateful to have you with us in this fight.

Please consider joining ILRF as a monthly sustainer today to show your support for the long haul.

In solidarity,

Judy Gearhart
Executive Director

Bangladesh Accord 6th Anniversary

In the six years since the Bangladesh Accord was founded, its complaint mechanism has saved lives and stopped retaliation in hundreds of factories across Bangladesh. Our new report published today, Calling for Remedy, details how garment workers have used the independent mechanism to secure remediation when they notice hazards in their factories or face reprisals for raising health and safety concerns.

Read and share Calling for Remedy now.

The Accord was established recognizing that independent inspections by qualified engineers are only part of the solution and that workers and their unions are in the best position to conduct day-to-day monitoring and reporting on workplaces conditions. The Accord’s complaint mechanism enables them to report concerns about health and safety hazards safely, and if they choose, anonymously.

In addition to building safety, occupational safety and health (OSH) issues covered by the Accord include personal protective equipment, maternity leave, excessive working hours, forced overtime, sexual harassment, and workplace violence – as well as OSH-related pay, such as sick pay, maternity pay, and payments of any nature which may have been impacted as a result of reprisal actions against those who have pursued a claim under safety and health.

Because the Accord’s complaint mechanism provides responsive and meaningful action and is successful at securing remediation, workers are increasingly more likely to trust it and use it. The complaint mechanism ensures that workers are able to exercise their right to refuse dangerous work, provides transparency by publicly reporting on all complaints received, and provides apparel brands and retailers with knowledge of factory-level issues that would otherwise go undetected and unreported.

The success of the complaint mechanism run by the Accord – trusted by workers for its independence and effectiveness – is one more argument why the program should remain in Bangladesh and continue to operate independently until the government and local institutions are ready to take on the task. The government’s first attempt at establishing a complaint mechanism does not allow anonymity, and reports receiving only 25 complaints since 2014, compared to 1,329 complaints received by the Accord during the same time period.

If you haven’t yet, please sign our petition to protect the Accord, and share our report on Facebook and Twitter!

The Accord’s independent inspections, trainings and complaint mechanism have brought real changes for workers – the majority women – in Bangladesh and have increased international confidence in the country’s garment industry. With a new High Court ruling on the future of this program due on May 19, together with the other three Accord NGO witness signatories, ILRF is once more stressing the need to continue the independent work of the Accord and to only transfer the work to an organization that lives up to the readiness criteria as established by the International Labour Organization.

In solidarity,

Elena Arengo
Senior Corporate Accountability Analyst

P.S. I hope to see you at ILRF’s Labor Rights Defenders Awards Ceremony & Reception next week. Tickets are still available here.

Please consider joining ILRF as a monthly donor to help sustain our ability to stand with labor rights defenders around the world.


6 years after Rana Plaza, we need action to protect hard-won workplace safety

Take Action Now!


In the midst of a wave of deadly fires, the government of Bangladesh is threatening to expel the only credible building safety program in the country. So, today, as we mark the sixth anniversary of the Rana Plaza building collapse, we’re calling on the government of Bangladesh to cease attempts to expel the Accord on Fire and Building Safety from Bangladesh.

In commemoration of the 6th anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse, take action now to protect workers in Bangladesh!

The Accord is an enforceable agreement signed by apparel brands and trade unions three weeks after the Rana Plaza building collapse of April 24, 2013, killed 1,134 garment workers. The Accord provides independent safety inspections, transparent remediation protocols, as well a worker complaint mechanism and training. As a result, unprecedented safety improvements have been made to factories across the country. Yet, the government and the factory owners’ associations are trying to expel the Accord from the country, threatening the safety of millions of workers.

Over the past two months, at least 95 people have died in preventable fires in buildings that were within the monitoring purview of the government of Bangladesh. This is especially disturbing as our recent research shows a shocking level of unreadiness by the government to assume responsibility for the 1,688 factories under the Accord. Rather than work against the Accord, government agencies should urgently increase safety efforts for the buildings currently under their oversight. A transition plan should be conditional on Bangladesh’s national inspection bodies being ready to take over.

Any interruption to the Accord’s important safety work would be a major setback for workers’ rights in the country. We cannot allow the risk of another Rana Plaza disaster – it’s time to protect the hard-won progress made in Bangladesh.

In solidarity,

Liana Foxvog
Director of Campaigns

Please consider joining ILRF as a monthly donor to help sustain our ability to stand with labor rights defenders around the world.

Our first 2019 Labor Rights Defender is…

2019 Labor Rights DefendersGaspar Matalaev & Alternative Turkmenistan News

Each spring, ILRF takes a moment to honor a group of Labor Rights Defenders, whose innovation and visionary leadership in the fight for safe and just working conditions has truly made a difference. This year’s honoree, Gaspar Matalaev, has taken great personal risks in his work to expose state-run forced and child labor in one of the most repressive countries in the world today: Turkmenistan.

This year, ILRF is honored to present a 2019 Labor Rights Defender Award to Gaspar Matalaev and Alternative Turkmenistan News.

Gaspar was arrested October 4, 2016, sentenced to three years in a labor camp, and remains imprisoned today. He has been tortured, held incommunicado, and denied proper legal counsel – all at the hands of one of the world’s most repressive countries. Gaspar is a prominent human rights activist in Turkmenistan, where he has been monitoring the state-orchestrated forced labor system in the country’s cotton fields. His work has helped draw attention to the Turkmen Government’s annual mobilization of tens of thousands of citizens, including children, teachers, and doctors, forced to manually pick cotton under threat of charges like insubordination, incitement to sabotage, and even ‘contempt of the homeland’. Gaspar’s arrest came two days after he published a report on the extensive use of forced and child labor in the 2016 cotton harvest. It is clear Gaspar’s arrest was politically motivated.

Alternative Turkmenistan News was founded in 2010 as an independent news and human rights organization, aiming to improve the living and working conditions of Turkmenistan’s citizens. Through a network of monitors, ATN provides independent reporting on one of the world’s most authoritarian regimes.

ATN, and activists like Gaspar, are critical in the fight to hold anti-democratic governments accountable, and we are honored to present them with a Labor Rights Defender Award. You can support Gaspar ahead of the ceremony, held this May 22 in Washington D.C., by signing our petition urging the Turkmen government to free Gaspar.

In solidarity,


Judy Gearhart
Executive Director

Please consider joining ILRF as a monthly donor to help sustain our ability to stand with labor rights defenders around the world.

$20 million for a birthday party?!

For the past four years, the 4,000 people who worked at Jaba Garmindo in Indonesia have been fighting for the $10.8 million they are owed in severance and unpaid wages following the closure of two garment factories.

Support the workers left in the lurch when multinational companies cut and ran!

The workers sewed clothing for major international brands including Uniqlo, one of the world’s largest fashion retailers, and Jack Wolfskin, a German company that was controlled by the hedge fund Blackstone Group at the time the workers were left hanging. Despite pressure from Indonesian garment workers and the Clean Clothes Campaign, Uniqlo and Jack Wolfskin have refused to pay the severance owed to the workers.

As the largest alternative investment group in the world, Blackstone could pay the severance money with only 0.7% of its annual net income. For CEO Stephen Schwarzman, it would be a piddling amount to pay himself given that he had no concern spending $20 million on his 70th birthday party. But, for the workers who lost their jobs, receiving the funds due to them under Indonesian law will help keep them and their families out of dire poverty.

Please support the Indonesian garment workers by taking two actions today:

1. Call on Stephen Schwarzman and Blackstone to pay up!

2. Leave a review on Uniqlo Denmark’s Facebook page in advance of their April 5th Copenhagen store opening. Under, “Do you recommend Uniqlo.denmark?,” select “No” and then leave your own message along the lines of:

I insist that Uniqlo pay the unpaid wages and severance legally-owed to the Jaba Garmindo workers in Indonesia. These workers earned this money over many years of hard work and long hours producing clothes for Uniqlo. To deny them their payment now is tantamount to wage theft. Uniqlo should pay this debt immediately! #PayUpUniqlo

Failure to pay severance is a critical problem facing workers in the global garment industry and is especially widespread in Indonesia. Workers producing for Nike, adidas, and Mizuno have also found themselves left without the severance pay that they are guaranteed under law. Although factory owners are required to follow national law regarding severance, factories consistently fail to set aside funds to meet their obligations, and brand auditors rarely verify whether they are doing so.

Thank you for standing in solidarity with garment workers in Indonesia.

In solidarity,

Liana Foxvog
Director of Campaigns

PS. Read more about severance wage theft in Indonesia’s garment industry in Ken Silverstein’s long-form article in New Republic, „Blood Money: Indonesian wage theft and the Massacre Premium.“

Please consider joining ILRF as a monthly donor to help sustain our ability to stand with labor rights defenders around the world.

Fyffes expelled from Ethical Trading Initiative!

Gabby Rosazza, International Labor Rights Forum



Fyffes is the billion dollar fruit company that Americans have never heard about. They are the #1 supplier of bananas to Europe and the #1 supplier of winter-season melons to the United States. The Ethical Trading Initiative kicked them out this week for labor abuses on their melon farms in Honduras.

Honduran farmworkers and union organizers are standing up fearlessly to the global fruit giant – a company that has long used their labor, but never respected their rights. For over a decade, the farmworkers have reported rampant wage theft and exposure to toxic agrochemicals.

Three years ago, they decided to organize a union affiliated to STAS, putting their livelihoods on the line to fight for a fair wage and a safe workplace. Immediately, they faced violent retaliation from local bosses, who fired dozens of outspoken union leaders and launched a campaign of terror against the rest of the 8,000 workers.

Fyffes hired expensive consultants, created two management-controlled “unions”, and is attempting to distract consumers with watered down „women’s rights“ programming.

Independent and democratic unions, like STAS, are the true agents of change not – corporate-led PR schemes. Help us send a message to Fyffes – loud and clear – of our demand for justice, not charity!

Fyffes’ charade is coming to an end. Due to their continued anti-union violence, they were de-certified by Fair Trade USA in December. Now, with the termination of their Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) membership, Fyffes has further lost credibility in the public eye.

Please stand in solidarity with Honduran farmworkers by helping build the campaign pressure on Fyffes.

Click here to speak out on Facebook. (Tag @FyffesNA and add the #FyffesFails hashtag in your caption.)

Add your voice on twitter: Tweet Option 1, Tweet Option 2

Fyffes is named in complaints at the International Labour Organization and under the U.S.-Central American Free Trade Agreement, but none of this has been enough to get Fyffes to stop union-busting. Honduran farmworkers are counting on us to increase the pressure on Fyffes so that they can organize freely and bargain for dignified wages and a safe workplace.

Thank you for your solidarity.


Gabby Rosazza
Campaigns Associate

Please consider joining ILRF as a monthly donor to help sustain our ability to stand with labor rights defenders around the world.

ILRF’s February Roundup

February 2019 E-News

We’re Hiring! Job Opening at ILRF
Continued Anti-Union Violence on Fyffes‘ Farms
89 Human Rights Groups Decry Thammakaset’s Spurious Cases
Cotton Campaign Meets with Senior Uzbek Officials in DC
Court decision on Bangladesh Accord Postponed
ILRF Uncovers Turkmen Cotton Sold By Major Retailers

We’re Hiring! Job Opening at ILRF

ILRF is recruiting for a position to be part of our team in Washington, D.C. The Cotton Campaign Coordinator will play a critical role in facilitating a global coalition of human rights, labor, investor and business organizations dedicated to eradicating child labor and forced labor in cotton production. Please share this announcement with qualified candidates who would be excited to bring their skills in coalition building, strategic planning, writing, and fundraising to the Cotton Campaign, which is housed at ILRF.

We're hiring!

Continued Anti-Union Violence on Fyffes‘ Farms

Fyffes, the billion dollar fruit company that owns melon plantations in Honduras and employs up to 8,000 seasonal, mostly female workers continues to threaten and intimidate workers who are organizing with STAS, an independent Honduran union. As part of an aggressive anti-union campaign, workers are being coerced to sign blank pieces of paper to affiliate to a fake, management-run union and told if they don’t sign they won’t be rehired for next season and the plantations will close. Fyffes markets its melons in U.S. supermarkets under the „SOL“ label. ILRF is calling on Fyffes to end the violence and respect the farmworkers‘ rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining. Read more in Michelle Chen’s article in In These Times.

Workers protesting poor labor conditions on the Fyffes melon plantation

89 Human Rights Groups Decry Thammakaset’s Spurious Cases

On February 14th, the Thai Seafood Working Group facilitated the release of a joint letter calling on the Thai government to uphold its business and human rights commitments and to protect the rights of human rights defenders. Thammakaset Farms, a Thai-owned poultry company, has filed at least 13 criminal and civil complaints against human rights defenders and former employees. While some of these cases have been dismissed, others are still ongoing, and in November 2018, a representative of Thammakaset pledged to bring forward additional complaints. These cases are emblematic of Strategic Litigation against Public Participation (SLAPP) lawsuits and pose a dangerous threat to Thailand’s civil society space.

This letter follows two years of international campaigning in support of workers who were sued for speaking out about abuses. One positive shift is that on January 15th Thailand’s Supreme Court ordered Thammakaset to pay 1.7 million Thai Baht in compensation to the 14 former employees that experienced extreme exploitation. This ruling is a landmark case for the rights of migrant workers in Thailand.

Thammakaset workers protest the spurious cases against them.

Cotton Campaign Meets with Senior Uzbek Officials in DC

After over ten years of campaigning against state-sponsored forced labor in Uzbekistan’s cotton sector, on February 4th, the ILRF-led Cotton Campaign hosted a delegation from the Uzbek government, which included the Deputy Prime Minister. This meeting focused on the progress that the Government of Uzbekistan has made towards ending forced labor and the major challenges that remain. Cotton Campaign members also met with representatives from the US government, brands, and hosted several Uzbek and Turkmen activists.

Cotton fields

Court Decision on Bangladesh Accord Postponed 

On Monday, Bangladesh’s Appellate Court issued an extension to the judgement decreeing the Accord leave the country pending a decision on April 7th, 2019. Until then, the Accord’s Bangladesh office operations and implementation programs will continue as usual while the Accord’s Steering Committee resumes negotiations with the government of Bangladesh and the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association. In the meantime, ILRF and allies will continue advocating in support of this life-saving program. If you haven’t yet, please send a letter in support of the Accord, and check out the photos and media coverage from the global week of solidarity with garment workers in Bangladesh. The demonstrations at Bangladesh’s embassies and consulates also voiced outrage over the ongoing crackdown on workers’ rights to freedom of assembly and expression, calling for reinstatement for the thousands of dismissed and blacklisted workers and the dropping of unsubstantiated charges against workers supporting higher wages.


Bangladesh workers call for the Accord to stay.

ILRF Uncovers Turkmen Cotton Sold By Major Retailers

ILRF has uncovered that Walmart, Amazon, and eBay are profiting off goods made with Turkmen cotton. In May 2018, US Customs and Border Protection banned the import of any products containing cotton from Turkmenistan, a country known for using state-sponsored forced labor in its cotton sector. So how are these major US corporations getting away with selling these goods? Check out ILRF’s recent op-ed published by Thomson Reuters Foundation to find out!

Cotton fields

Please consider joining ILRF as a monthly donor to help sustain our ability to stand with labor rights defenders around the world.

Victory! Honduran farmworkers win union recognition


Last week, the Irish multinational company Fyffes signed an agreement recognizing STAS – el Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Agroindustria y Similares – as the legitimate union representative of workers employed at Fyffes’ melon subsidiaries in Honduras. This agreement comes following a three-year global campaign urging Fyffes to remediate two decades of human and labor rights abuses on its Honduran melon plantations, including wage theft and exposure to toxic agrochemicals.
Spread the word about this historic victory on Twitter and Facebook!
STAS’ organizing was courageous and unwavering, despite being faced with a violent anti-union campaign led by Fyffes local management. After international solidarity efforts, Fyffes was suspended from the Ethical Trading Initiative and de-certified by Fair Trade USA for its blatant disregard for union rights. This wouldn’t have been possible without you. Thank you to all who sent letters, signed petitions, spread the word through social media, and donated – you helped make this victory possible.
This agreement is a welcome first step for Fyffes to begin remediating the labor abuses that have long existed on their plantations – but our work isn’t over yet. On February 5th, the union will begin negotiating a collective bargaining agreement. International allies and supporters will be watching to make sure the agreement covers all workers across all Fyffes’ subsidiaries in Honduras. The company also agreed to rehire union members who have not been rehired this harvest season due to their union affiliation, which we’ll be monitoring closely.
Help us send a message on Twitter and Facebook: the world is watching to see if Fyffes will negotiate in good faith, or return to its pattern of abuse.

In solidarity,

Gabby Rosazza
Campaigns Associate

Please consider joining ILRF as a monthly donor to help sustain our ability to stand with labor rights defenders around the world.

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