Across the globe, millions of men and women migrate in order to find jobs. Many of them provide for their families by working in factories to manufacture clothing and footwear for some of the largest international brands. While some of these workers are successful in finding suitable employment, many others face difficulties ranging from homesickness to bad working conditions, and may even be forced into trafficking – otherwise known as modern-day slavery.
On Wednesday, the FLA joined other labor and human rights groups, American trade unions, investors, brands and retailers in appealing to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the eve of her trip to Central Asia. With as many as 1.5 million children being removed from school and forced to work in the cotton harvest, the group called on Secretary Clinton to raise with Uzbek President Islam Karimov the need to permit the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to enter Uzbekistan to inspect conditions in the cotton fields.
This is a guest post from FLA Participating Company, Patagonia. It was written by Vincent Stanley, co-author with Yvon Chouinard of The Responsible Company, to be published August 2012.
Bill McKibben made an interesting point a few years back when he compared the yields of factory farming and organic or low-input farming. Factory farming (with subsidies) yields more dollars per acre but an organic field yields more food.
This is a guest post from Korhan Tinaztepe, Assessment Manager for the Fair Labor Association based in Istanbul.
Boston Review recently published its Citizen Consumer forum, featuring responses by labor experts, advocates and academics to an article by Dara O’Rourke on ethical consumption. O’Rourke, co-founder of Good Guide and professor at the University of California, Berkeley, weighs the impact of ethical consumerism on the marketplace and discusses some of the tools available to help consumers make smart decisions.
On October 12, 2011, the Institute for Global Labour & Human Rights released a report alleging a number of noncompliances at the Style Avenue factory in El Salvador, including harassment or abuse and forced overtime. Two collegiate licensees registered with FLA – Outerstuff and College Kids – were sourcing from the factory at the time of this report. Outerstuff and College Kids commissioned FLA-accredited monitoring organization, GMIES, to investigate the allegations.
Worth Reading — The New York Times reported on this recent study by Human Rights Watch concerning Walmart’s efforts to keep unions out of its stores. The human rights group, which the newspaper noted typically focuses on rights violations in Burundi, North Korea or other foreign countries, said that when Wal-Mart stores faced unionization drives, the company often broke the law by, for example, eavesdropping on workers, training surveillance cameras on them and firing those who favored unions.
Having just returned from my recent university tour, I am more encouraged than ever by the passion and drive I saw in students to resolve labor and human rights issues worldwide. As they always have, students and universities play a crucial role in campaigning against any form of social injustice… as we did in fighting the apartheid movement in South Africa to fighting sweatshop labor conditions today.
Rain greeted us on the next morning as we made a dash to Penn Station to catch our train to Wilmington, Delaware and the University of Delaware. At U of D, I had lunch and a stimulating discussion with a group of students eager to learn more about global supply chains and labor rights issues. Students (in behavior consistent with my travels to other schools) showed a refreshing openness to discussing the complexity of labor issues and their interaction with the market-economy and global supply chains.