More Updates

Wave of anti-government protests spreads in Honduras

Launched by teachers and health care professionals in response to two government decrees aimed at further privatization of the already deteriorating health and education systems, the protests were quickly joined by activists from other sectors. The Platform for the Defense of Health and Public Education, a coalition of union and community organizations formed in early May, has been playing an important coordinating role since April.   

Civil society, labour representatives resign from Canadian government’s corporate accountability multi-stakeholder body

News release from the Canadian Network for Corporate Accountability:
Ottawa, July 11, 2019 –Today all fourteen civil society and labour union representatives of the government’s Multi-Stakeholder Advisory Body on Responsible Business Conduct Abroad (Advisory Body) tendered their resignations. The unanimous decision to resign is due the erosion of civil society and labour unions’ trust and confidence in the government’s commitment to international corporate accountability.

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

Photo: Kristof Vadino

By Clean Clothes Campaign, International Labor Rights Forum, Maquila Solidarity Network, and Worker Rights Consortium

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]

Do Mexico’s labour law reforms live up to commitments in USMCA?

On May 1, 2019, Mexico published its long-awaited reformed Federal Labour Law, which the Morena government promises will guarantee the right of workers to be represented by a union of their free choice and to have an active role in collective bargaining.

The lack of freedom of association in Mexico has been a major obstacle in negotiations for a revised North American Free Trade Agreement (now known as USMCA or T-MEC).

The #SetThemFree campaign demands freedom for political prisoners in Nicaragua

On May 22, following the release of 100 Nicaraguan political prisoners, and reports that those in prison were subjected to cruel and inhumane treatment, the #SetThemFree Campaign put out a statement calling for the release of all remaining political prisoners.

The statement makes several demands including calling for an end to tortuous acts against those who remain in prison, and for a guarantee of the physical and psychological integrity of those released.

Companies and Brands: Leverage points with international apparel companies

MSN has launched a new research tool entitled Companies and Brands: Leverage points with international apparel companies. This comprehensive tool is designed to assist worker rights advocates in accessing detailed information about a company whose products are sourced from factories where labour rights violations have occurred. The research tool includes a seven-page chart that outlines six key leverage points about global garment companies and the brands that they own:

Questions raised about agreement on Bangladesh Accord

On May 19, 2019, the Appellate Court of the Bangladesh High Court accepted a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) reached earlier this month between the Bangladesh Accord Steering Committee and the Bangladesh employers’ association in the ready-made garment sector, BGMEA. The MoU stipulates that the Accord will continue to operate in Bangladesh for a transition period of 281 working days, during which time brands, unions and the BGMEA will establish a new institution called the RMG Sustainability Council (RSC), which will take over the Accord’s tasks in 2020.

Will the Accord be allowed to continue its life-saving work in Bangladesh?

Clean Clothes Campaign

Today marks the 6th anniversary of the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh, which killed more than 1,100 garment workers and injured over 2,000 others. One positive outcome of this preventable tragedy was the creation of the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, which provides for independent factory safety inspections, transparent remediation of factory safety hazards, an anonymous complaints process, and health and safety training for workers.

Legal analysis of 2018 Salvadoran workplace childcare law (April 2019)

On May 31, 2018, the Salvadoran Legislative Assembly ratified the Special Law for the Regulation and Installation of Nurseries for Workers’ Children. During an August 2018 roundtable, management representatives from Salvadoran maquila factories requested more detailed analysis on the implications of the new law for employers. In response, the Coalition for Decent Work for Women (CEDM) and the Americas Group (AG) contracted Ena Nuñez, an independent legal consultant and expert on labour issues, to prepare this document.

Canada fails to create an independent ombudsperson with effective investigatory powers

Photo: CNCA

On April 8, the Canadian government announced the appointment of the long-awaited Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE), but failed to live up to its commitment to grant the position the necessary independence and power to investigate abuses and redress harm caused by Canadian mining, oil and gas, and garment companies operating abroad. Several human rights, union, labour, international development and faith organizations have voiced their dismay over the announcement.

Bangladesh government not ready to take over role of Accord

Kristof Vadino

A just-released report co-authored by the Witness Signatories to the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh reveals that the Bangladesh government is “shockingly unready” to take over the role of the Accord. The Witness Signatories include: Clean Clothes Campaign, International Labor Rights Forum, Maquila Solidarity Network and Worker Rights Consortium.

Leader of maquila women’s organization, Sandra Ramos, arrested in Nicaragua

Image: "For the freedom of Nicaragua's political prisoners"

On March 16, Sandra Ramos, leader of the Maria Elena Cuadra Movement of Working and Unemployed Women (MEC), was arbitrarily detained along with more than 100 other participants in a peaceful demonstration demanding the release of all political prisoners in Nicaragua, as a condition for a resumption of negotiations for a resolution to the conflict in the country. After eight hours in custody, she and the other detainees were released.

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

Photo: Guldhammer

Author: Clean Clothes Campaign, Human Rights Watch, IndustriALL, International Corporate Accountability Roundtable, International Labor Rights Forum, International Trade Union Confederation, Maquila Solidarity Network, UNI Global Union, Worker Rights Consortium

Workers cheated out of severance as Rintex closes factory

Workers and supporters protesting unjust dismissals, 2018

Three years after worker rights violations were first reported by labour rights advocates to Gap and other brand buyers, their Morelos-based supplier closed the factory rather than reinstate workers fired who had been attempting to form an independent union. The last remaining workers were dismissed in December 2018. 

2019 Update on Monthly Minimum Wages in Central America

Photo: Feasies

In January 2019, the Labour Research Team (Equipo de Investigaciónes Laborales -- EIL) published its annual report comparing inflation rates and increases in the monthly minimum wages for maquila workers in Central America’s four garment-producing countries. The three-page report provides brief analyses of the political and economic context within which the tripartite minimum wage negotiations took place in each country, highlighting actions of a variety of actors including government, industry, women’s organizations and trade unions.

Bangladesh police clash with protesting garment workers demanding higher wages

Photo: IndudstriALL

A new minimum wage of 8,000 Taka (US$94), which came into effect on December 9, was rejected by workers and their unions asserting that the increase, the first of its kind since 2013, did not cover the rise in prices over the last five years. Bangladeshi unions, including those in the IndustriALL Bangladesh Council, have been demanding a monthly minimum wage of 16,000 taka (US$191).

MSN’s publications on Mexico’s ongoing constitutional reform to the labour justice system

MSN has been working with our allies in Mexico to monitor developments related to the Mexican government’s February 2017 Constitutional Reform to the labour justice system and to encourage discussion and debate about the reforms and their implementation, as well as the implications they have for workers and employers.

Response to High Court hearing on the Bangladesh Accord

Photo: CCC

On November 29, the Bangladesh High Court conducted a hearing following the appeal filed by the Bangladesh Accord against the restraining order on its Bangladesh operations. The restraining order was due to take effect today. A new hearing by the High Court was subsequently re-scheduled twice and will now take place on December 17, and the restraining order has been lifted until that date. The hearings have taken place amidst mounting international pressure and calls from the international community for the permanent removal of the order.

Precedent setting Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh in jeopardy

On November 30, a restraining order placed on the Transition Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh is set to come into effect pending the outcome of an appeal submitted by the Accord last week. If the Bangladeshi High Court does not grant the appeal, the groundbreaking multi-stakeholder factory inspection body will have to leave Bangladesh.

Will Mexico's new government make advances on labour justice? (September 2018)

On July 1, 2018, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (known by his initials AMLO) and his party, National Regeneration Movement (MORENA), won an overwhelming electoral victory that creates a new political context for the implementation of the 2017 Constitutional Reform to Mexico’s labour justice system.

May 2018 bi-national childcare forum in El Salvador

Over 90 participants came together on May 23, 2018 in San Salvador, El Salvador, for a bi-national forum on the advantages and disadvantages for maquila workers of workplace, community, and home-based childcare options in Central America and internationally. Representatives came from 38 supplier factories in Honduras and El Salvador; 27 union, women’s and other non-governmental organizations, 13 international brands and manufacturers; and two industry associations.

Brands urged to support a living wage for Bangladeshi garment workers

Public rally in support of the 16,000 taka minimum wage demand (Photo: Taslima Akhter)

Inditex (owner of Zara) has become the first major apparel brand to respond positively to a joint request from the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC), International Labor Rights Forum, and Maquila Solidarity Network (MSN) to publicly support Bangladeshi garment workers’ demands for a significant increase in the country’s minimum wage.

Childcare in Central America: Legal Requirements and International Conventions (May 2018)

This educational resource compares childcare laws and regulations in four garment-producing Central American countries and profiles relevant international conventions on childcare. It was prepared by MSN for Central American women’s, trade union and labour rights organizations, as well as international apparel brands that participate in the Americas Group, a multi-stakeholder forum involving brands and manufacturers, the Global Union IndustriALL, the Fair Labor Association, and MSN.  

Debate on Mexican Labour Justice Reform Continues as Counter-Reform Bill Suspended (May 2018)

Today, MSN published its latest Update on the ongoing debate in Mexico concerning the implementing legislation for the Constitutional Reform to the country’s labour justice system.

The May 2018 Update deciphers a complicated series of events that led to the temporary suspension of a counter-reform bill that would have undercut, if not totally negated, the spirit and intent of the February 2017 Constitutional Reform.

On the 5th Anniversary of Rana Plaza, tell brands to sign the renewed Accord

Photo credit: AFL-CIO Solidarity Center

Today marks the five-year anniversary of the tragic collapse of the Rana Plaza building that took the lives of 1,134 garment workers and seriously injured over 2,500. It is now widely known that workers who reported for work that morning did not want to enter the building because they knew it was unsafe were told by managers that they had to go to work in order to meet order deadlines of the international brands.

With 100 days left in mandate of Bangladesh Accord, brands urged to sign renewed Accord (Febrero 2018)

Photo: IndustriALL

As the end of the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety’s mandate draws near, with only 100 days remaining, brands and retailers are being urged to sign the renewed Accord for three more years.

The global union signatories to the Accord, IndustriALL and UNI, and the four witness signatories, Clean Clothes Campaign, International Labor Rights Forum, Maquila Solidarity Network and Worker Rights Consortium, are calling on the garment companies that have not yet signed the renewed 2018 Accord to do so as soon as possible.

International brand to pay $2.3 million to fix safety hazards in Bangladesh factories (January 2018)

Global Unions IndustriALL and UNI have reached an historic US$2.3 million settlement in an arbitration case against an international brand for failing to meet its health and safety obligations under the legally binding Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety.

The brand, whose name was not disclosed under the terms of the settlement, will pay $2 million to fix safety hazards in over 200 Bangladeshi supplier factories and contribute $300,000 to a Supply Chain Worker Support Fund managed by the two Global Unions.

Will proposed bill undermine Mexico’s labour justice reform? (December 2017)

On December 7, two senators from Mexico’s ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) submitted a bill to the Senate that, if approved, would undermine, if not nullify, the most important advances in the country’s Constitutional Reform to the labour justice system that became law only 10 months earlier.

Murders at Canadian mine expose lack of labour rights in Mexico (November 2017)

Striking workers (Photo: IndustriALL)

The assassination of two brothers, Victor and Marcelino Shaunitla Peña, has shone a spotlight on Mexico’s corrupt and anti-democratic labour relations system. The brothers were participating in a work stoppage by mineworkers with the support of community members against the Canadian-owned Media Luna gold mine in Azcala, Guerrero. The murders happened just as NAFTA negotiations were resuming in Mexico City.

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