This is a guest post from Kyle Richard, a third-year law student at the University of Washington.
On March 4, 2013, the Fair Labor Association (FLA) sent a letter to Peruvian President Ollanta Humala Tasso raising concerns over legislation that currently permits the employment of workers through the use of repeated short-term employment contracts. Short-term employment contracts do not provide stability of employment, and often erode access to fundamental labor rights.
On April 17, FLA Participating Company Hanesbrands announced a new partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Chevron, and El Salvador-based NGO Glasswing International to support youth and community development in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. The new four-year agreement expands Glasswing’s school makeover program to more than 75 schools, where efforts will focus on revitalizing and rehabilitating facilities for students.
On March 19-20 in New York City, FLA participated in the second convening of the Core Advisory Group of the UN Global Compact, where participants worked to develop global voluntary business principles on sustainable agriculture for companies. FLA is also one of two civil society organizations on the Steering Committee of the program.
In June 2011, the UN Human Rights Council unanimously endorsed the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights—the result of a six-year effort led by the then Special Representative of the UN Secretary—General for Business and Human Rights, Professor John Ruggie. Following the adoption of the Guiding Principles, the FLA asked Shift - an independent nonprofit organization chaired by Professor Ruggie - to conduct a review of the implications of the Guiding Principles for its own work.
On February 19, Rachel Davis of Shift (right) made a presentation to the FLA Board of Directors and led a discussion about the implications of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights for the FLA.
According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), an estimated 215 million children are involved in child labor worldwide, and an estimated six million children are forced to work around the world. In December, the U.S. Department of Labor launched a free toolkit to help companies develop programs to combat forced and child labor in their supply chains.
Workers are the ones most exposed and vulnerable when market conditions push companies and suppliers to reduce employment, of either a portion or the entire workforce. Many countries legally mandate payment of severance - typically calculated based on job tenure - when partial or full retrenchments arise, but there is generally no requirement in domestic law to create a fund to ensure that the factory is able to meet its severance liabilities.
Factory fires have killed thousands of workers all over the world for decades - even with today's advancements in technology and infrastructure, these tragedies continue to occur. Just last year, horrific fires in Bangladesh and Pakistan killed more than 400 factory workers. With the support of brands, factory managers and workers must be empowered to prevent fires and save lives.