More Updates

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.

Original Timeline for the implementation of the labour reform in Mexico (2019-2023)

On April 29, 2019 the Mexican congress approved a comprehensive labour justice reform that directly impacts workers’ rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining. In this resource MSN provides a timeline for the implementation of the reform highlighting important landmarks throughout the 2019-2023 period.

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.

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.

“Overworked & exposed” report highlights the perils of short-term contracts in Cambodia and Myanmar

A recent report co-authored by the Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights (Central), Cambodia; Action Labor Rights (ALR), Myanmar; and Future In Our Hands, Norway highlights the pervasiveness of short-term contracts and gender-based discrimination in the garment industry in Cambodia and Myanmar. Through in-depth interviews and group discussions with workers, the report presents the working conditions of female workers with consistent issues of sexual harassment, excessive overtime, personal safety and lack of access to basic labour rights.

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.

IACHR expresses concern for ongoing repression in Nicaragua

On April 5, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) released a statement on the continuing crisis in Nicaragua, condemning the persistence of arbitrary arrests, aggression toward people deprived of their liberty, the refusal to reestablish several organizations’ legal status, and the prevention of social protest – all of which are taking place alongside the negotiations between the government and the Civil Alliance for Justice and Democracy.

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.

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. 

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).

Six Cambodian union leaders unjustly sentenced in a trial riddled with irregularities

On December 11, 2018, six prominent Cambodian union leaders were found guilty of instigating violent protests in December 2013 and January 2014 and ordered to pay a collective fine of approximately US$8,600. The sentence comes just two months after Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, under increasing international pressure, publicly urged labour and justice ministers to finalize all court cases against union leaders, a call originally lauded by union leaders.

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.

Still waiting for Canada to take effective action on corporate abuses abroad

Photo: CNCA

The appointment of the highly anticipated Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE) is expected by year’s end, as civil society pressure mounts to ensure that Canada lives up to its promise to hold Canadian companies in the mining, oil and gas, and garment sectors accountable for their human rights abuses abroad.

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