More Updates

Study compares minimum wages of maquila workers and basic food baskets

An October 2019 study by the Labour Research Team (EIL) reveals that the minimum wages for maquila workers in 3 of 4 Central American garment-producing countries are not sufficient to cover the cost of basic food products, let alone the cost of all basic goods and services needed to support a worker and her family.

Precedent-setting Agreements Reached in Lesotho on Gender-based Violence at Work

Photo: Workers Rights Consortium Sam Mokhele, General Secretary, NACTWU; Thusoana Ntlama, Program Coordinator, FIDA; May Rathakane, Deputy General Secretary, IDUL; Libakiso Matlho, National Director, WLSA; Daniel Maraisane, Deputy General Secretary, UNITE

On August 15, 2019, a number of complementary, legally binding agreements were signed to launch a pilot program aimed at eliminating sexual harassment and gender-based violence in five major garment and textile factories in the Southern African country of Lesotho.

Workers abandoned in LD El Salvador factory closure owed US$1.7 million

On October 21, MSN and five other labour rights organizations sent letters to four major brands -- PVH, Walmart, Ralph Lauren, and Levi’s – demanding that they ensure that the 824 former workers at the LD factory in El Salvador be fully compensated for outstanding severance owed following the factory’s sudden closure. In March 2018, the owners abandoned the workers without paying them their legal severance, and it pocketed the workers’ national healthcare contributions. Six months later, the workers are still owed a total of US$1.7 million.

Gildan’s surprise closure of Honduran factory violates workers’ rights

On June 26, Montreal-based clothing manufacturer Gildan Activewear delivered a surprise announcement to the union at its STAR factory in El Progreso, Honduras that it would be closing their workplace starting on July 2.

Gildan’s announcement and the inexcusable lack of notice was a devastating blow to Star’s 1,126 workers and for a community that has suffered a number of other factory closures in recent years.

Mexico Enters New Era of Labour Relations

With the passage of long-awaited reforms to Mexico’s Federal Labour Law on April 29, 2019, the country has entered a new era of labour relations.

MSN’s first in a series of reports on the implementation of Mexico’s ambitious labour justice reforms summarizes the process for authentication of existing collective bargaining agreements, describes some of the challenges in the implementation of the reform, and provides a timeline of the road ahead.

Government updates Ombudsperson’s mandate, still fails to provide investigatory powers

In the final days prior to dropping the writ for the federal election, the Trudeau government published a revised mandate of the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE). While making minor changes to the most highly criticized clauses, the revised mandate fails to provide the new office the investigatory powers it needs to hold Canadian mining, oil and gas, and garment companies accountable for human rights violations when conducting business abroad.

Honduran public health system is failing workers, says EMIH report

The Honduran Independent Monitoring Team’s (EMIH) latest Labour Justice Bulletin (in Spanish) highlights the variety of obstacles maquila workers face when seeking medical assistance for work related chronic pain caused by the repetitive and labour intensive nature of their work. The bulletin presents two first-hand accounts of the difficulties workers, and the general public face when navigating the public system.

New report calls for legally binding safety accord in Pakistan

Photo: IndustriALL

On September 11, 2012, a fire ripped through the Ali Enterprises garment factory in Karachi, Pakistan, killing more than 250 workers, who were unable to escape the building because the exit doors were locked and windows barred. A new report released on the 7th anniversary of the fire warns that garment factories in Pakistan remain just as unsafe today as they were then.

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:

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.

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

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.

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.

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