In Asia, the Solidarity Center helps workers build strong unions to defend their basic rights at home and abroad, escape abuse and forced labor, and hold governments accountable for their economic security.
||Domestic workers in Indonesia march for their rights.
Although Asia’s countries are tremendously diverse, they are linked by a number of important economic issues: the practice of “contractualization,” which turns permanent jobs into informal work, the effect on individual countries of international financial institution policies and programs, and the increased exploitation of migrant workers. Asian workers also are reeling from the global economic crisis, which has shuttered factories and sent migrant workers back to poverty and joblessness while providing a pretext for employers to continue the race to the bottom in terms of wages.
As companies chase the lowest costs and highest profits around the globe, Southeast Asia has become a haven for export processing zones. Millions of workers desperate for decent wages and benefits become trapped in these "factory cities," lured into a life of 12-hour workdays, forced unpaid overtime, and sub-poverty wages. Once inside the EPZs, the workers have no rights on the job. Any attempt to form a union is squelched. Union activists are fired and blacklisted, unable to find another job.
Some Asian countries encourage migration as an unwritten development policy. Money earned by workers who go abroad contributes significantly to country economies, as workers send earnings home to their families. Millions of workers from South and Southeast Asia are employed in the Arabian Gulf in construction, manual labor and domestic service. All of these countries belong to the International Labor Organization and thus are bound to observe and protect core labor standards, including the right to form and join unions. In reality, however, only three of the six Gulf states — Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman — have labor laws that offer a framework for independent unions. Few migrant workers have rights on the job or in their communities. Men, women, and children are vulnerable to abuse and exploitation at all stages of the migration experience.
Bangladesh: Workers Say They Were Fired, Attacked after Forming Union
. March 6, 2014—Workers at the Taratex BD Ltd. garment factory in Bangladesh have been targets of violence and mass firings, according to the Bangladesh Independent Garment Workers Union Federation (BIGUF).
With Union, Street Vendors, Bidi Rollers No Longer Invisible in India
. March 6, 2014—India passed a landmark Street Vendors Act this month that, for the first time,recognizes the country’s 40 million street vendors as workers deserving of rights and labor law coverage equal to all other wage earners.
Bangladesh Union Activists Press for Justice in Violent Attack.
March 5, 2014—More than 400 Bangladesh garment workers and trade unionists rallied over the weekend at the National Press Club in Dhaka, the capital, to demand police take action to find perpetrators who beat and badly injured a garment worker leader and four union organizers last week.
Garment Worker, Organizers Beaten in Bangladesh.
February 25, 2014—A Bangladesh garment worker leader and four union organizers, among them two women, were badly injured Saturday when about two dozen people beat, kicked and threw them to the ground as the five were speaking to workers in the dormitory where they live.
Empowering Workers in Bangladesh Export Processing Zone
. February 18, 2014—Garment workers and workers in other industries in Bangladesh’s export-processing zones are subject to a different, much weaker set of labor laws than workers in the rest of the country, and the government must take steps to reform laws so they meet international standards for freedom of association and collective bargaining rights, said A. K. M. Nasim, senior legal counselor at the Solidarity Center’s office in Dhaka, the Bangladesh capital.
AFL-CIO Calls for End of Violence Against Cambodian Workers
. January 7, 2014—In a letter to Cambodia Prime Minister H.E. Hun Sen, the AFL-CIO condemned the Cambodian government's recent and ongoing violence against garment workers.
Send Solidarity Greetings to Bangladeshi Garment Workers!
November 25, 2013—Nearly a year ago, 112 garment workers were killed in a fire at the Tazreen Fashion Ltd. factory—and a thousand others were injured in the scramble to escape a building with no fire escapes and firmly barred windows.
Tazreen Survivor, Tahera: I Am Too Afraid to Sleep.
November 25, 2013—To mark the one-year anniversary of the deadly Tazreen Fashions factory fire in Bangladesh, the Solidarity Center is highlighting stories of survivors and their families.
Tahera, 23, has been so ill from the injuries she sustained in the November 24, 2012, Tazreen Fashions factory fire, her husband Roshidul has had to quit his job to take care of her.
Shahanaz, Tazreen survivor: Now My Life Seems Worthless. November 25, 2013—To mark the one-year anniversary of the deadly Tazreen Fashions factory fire in Bangladesh, the Solidarity Center is highlighting stories of survivors and their families. “
Now my life seems worthless,” Shahanaz Begum said, crying.
Nasima, Tazreen Survivor: Day by Day, My Situation Is Getting Worse.
November 25, 2013—To mark the one-year anniversary of the deadly Tazreen Fashions factory fire in Bangladesh, the Solidarity Center is highlighting stories of survivors and their families.
Nasima, 25, cannot breathe well nor see clearly. She speaks softly, too weak to raise her voice.
Raoshonara, Tazreen Survivor: No Option but Begging to Survive. November 25, 2013—To mark the one-year anniversary of the deadly Tazreen Fashions factory fire in Bangladesh, the Solidarity Center is highlighting stories of survivors and their families. Raoshonara is destitute. “I have no other option but begging to survive,” she said as she burst into tears.
Tazreen Survivor, Morsheda: We Poor Have Lost Everything. November 22, 2013—To mark the one-year anniversary of the deadly Tazreen Fashions factory fire in Bangladesh, the Solidarity Center is highlighting stories of survivors and their families. Morsheda could not travel to her home village in Bangladesh for the recent Eid holiday because she could not afford the trip.
Abdul: I Could Not Find My Wife’s Body. November 22, 2013——To mark the one-year anniversary of the deadly Tazreen Fashions factory fire in Bangladesh, the Solidarity Center is highlighting stories of survivors and their families. Mahfuza Khatun, 22, was a sewing machine operator on the fourth floor of the Tazreen Fashions garment factory when the multistory building went up in flames just outside Dhaka.
Tazreen Survivor, Anjuma: Days Pass by without Food. November 22, 2013——To mark the one-year anniversary of the deadly Tazreen Fashions factory fire in Bangladesh, the Solidarity Center is highlighting stories of survivors and their families. When someone knocks on her door, Anjuma knows a debt collector is probably on the other side.
Tazreen Survivor, Anjuara: Too Injured to Hold Her Child. November 22, 2013—To mark the one-year anniversary of the deadly Tazreen Fashions factory fire in Bangladesh, the Solidarity Center is highlighting stories of survivors and their families. Anjuara suffers from constant pain. She is too injured to work and unable to pay the rent.
Aferza, Tazreen Survivor: I Starve with My Kids. November 21, 2013—To mark the one-year anniversary of the deadly Tazreen Fashions factory fire in Bangladesh, the Solidarity Center is highlighting stories of survivors and their families. Aferza, 25, left her village in 2010 for Dhaka, the Bangladesh capital, to escape poverty. She planned to help support her family and educate her children with the money she earned.
Sri Lanka: 800 Factory Workers Wage Long Strike for Union. Update, November 21, 2013—Hundreds of striking workers at Ansell Lanka marched to the Australian High Commission office yesterday, the 40th day of the strike at the manufacturing plant.
Tazreen Factory Fire: A Year Later, Survivors Feel Forgotten. November 19, 2013—A year after the deadly factory fire that killed 112 garment workers at Tazreen Fashions Ltd. in Bangladesh, survivors and the families of those killed and injured say they have been forgotten by the factory owner, international buyers and the government.
Indonesia: Workers Set for Second Nationwide Strike. November 4, 2013—Indonesian workers are planning a second round of nationwide protests for better wages, likely beginning November 6, according to the Jakarta Labor Forum.
Indonesian Unions Conduct Two-Day National Strike. October 31, 2013--Hundreds of thousands of Indonesian workers started a two-day national strike today demanding the government institute a fair minimum wage, end rampant employer violations of labor outsourcing and speed up implementation of a universal health care law.
Six Months after Rana Plaza, Workers Struggle for Voice at Work. October 24, 2013—Today marks the six-month anniversary of the Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh, which killed more than 1,200 garment workers, primarily women, and injured 2,500 more.
Thailand Vows to Ratify Two Key Worker Rights Standards. October 9, 2013—The Thai government agreed to ratify two key international worker rights standards this week, following a 3,000-strong rally made up of workers from all national federations, unions, networks of migrant workers and informal workers, and allied organizations.
Experts: Bangladesh Accord Is a Game Changer. Panelists at the AFL-CIO convention workshop, Bangladesh Fire and Safety Accord: A New Standard in Global Framework Agreements? said the accord represented a truly new approach to framework agreements and protecting worker rights.
U.S. Rep. Levin Meets with Bangladesh Factory Survivors. August 26, 2013—Joined by Dan Mozena, U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh, Levin held three meetings with workers and union leaders to hear firsthand from survivors of the Rana Plaza and Tazreen factory disasters and to learn the obstacles garment workers face when seeking to form unions to improve the safety of their workplaces.
Bangladesh Reinstates Garment Worker Rights Group. August 9, 2013—The Bangladesh government has re-registered the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity (BCWS), a move that means the organization can fully function again and pursue its mission of educating workers about their rights.
Bangladesh Union Leader: Global Support Key for Working Women. August 4, 2013—Women around the world work make up the vast majority of workers in dangerous, difficult and low-paid jobs—and in Bangladesh, garment workers, the majority of whom are women, often risk their lives for a chance to support themselves and their families. More than 1,100 workers were killed in the most recent garment factory disaster when the eight-story Rana Plaza building collapsed in April.
Bangladesh Media: Charges Dropped Against Worker Activists. July 10, 2013—Newspapers in Bangladesh this week reported that charges against two worker rights advocates will be dropped and that the search for the people who tortured and murdered labor leader Aminul Islam last year will receive new focus. The news follows the decision by the U.S. government to suspend preferential trade benefits with Bangladesh because of chronic and severe labor rights violations.
U.S. Trade Decision Key Step for Bangladesh Worker Rights. June 28, 2013—Workers in Bangladesh—especially millions of poorly paid garment workers who often risk their lives in dangerous factories—won a new tool to advance their rights when the United States suspended preferential trade benefits with the country.
U.S. Rep. Miller Meets with Bangladesh Garment Union Leaders. May 30, 2013—The freedom to form factory-level unions and negotiate job safety, living wages and fundamental social protections is key to any reform of Bangladesh’s labor laws, leaders and members of Bangladesh unions and worker organizations told U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.). Over the weekend, Miller held two meetings at the Solidarity Center’s Bangladesh office with garment union leaders and more than two dozen workers from newly formed and registered unions at 20 garment factories.
Pakistan Federations Seek Unification for Stronger Worker Voice. May 28, 2013—Recognizing that “the challenges confronting the working men and women in Pakistan cannot be effectively” addressed without a strong and united workers’ voice, the Pakistan Workers Federation and eight other union federations are seeking to unify their organizations.
Thailand: Founders of Migrant Workers Network Get ILRF Award. May 23, 2013—Secretary General Sawit Kaewwan of the State Enterprises Workers’ Relations Confederation (SERC) and President Aung Kyaw of the Migrant Worker Rights Network (MWRN) received awards yesterday in Washington, D.C., for their work to protect and promote the rights of migrant workers in Thailand. The International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) presented the labor rights defenders awards to Kaewwan, Aung Kyaw and others May 22 in an event hosted by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).
Cambodia: Owner Admits Negligence in Factory Collapse. May 20, 2013—At least 23 garment workers were injured today when a structure the workers used for rest breaks collapsed in Cambodia. The collapse comes just days after two workers were killed when a ceiling caved in at a Cambodian shoe factory.
Bangladesh Government Moves to Ease Unionization. May 14, 2013—The Bangladesh Cabinet approved a change to the nation’s labor laws that it says would enable workers to more freely form unions. The proposal, which must be approved by Parliament, would allow workers to join unions without showing the list of union supporters to factory owners to verify their employment—a practice that effectively makes it impossible for unions to gather sufficient support to register with the government because factory owners often penalize or fire workers who support unionization.
Bangladesh: Shoddy Construction Behind Building Collapse. May 3 2013—More than 500 people have now been confirmed dead in last week’s building collapse in Bangladesh, the country’s worst industrial disaster on record. The dead are among the 2,868 victims pulled from the rubble of the eight-story building, which housed five garment factories where thousands of workers toiled on the upper floors.
Bangladesh: Deaths Exceed 300, Warrant Out for Building Owner. April 26, 2013—More than 300 workers now have been confirmed dead from Wednesday’s building collapse in Bangladesh. Some 2,200 survivors have been pulled from the ruins of what is being called one of the worst manufacturing disasters in history. More than 3,000 garment workers were on the job when upper building floors pancaked on top of each other.
Bangladesh Fire Survivors Describe Hardships after Tragedy. April 25, 2013—“The factory caught fire about 6 p.m. After the fire, they did not allow us to go out,” says Nazma. “They locked the gate. The workers were screaming together.” Nazma is among the Tazreen Factory fire survivors in this video who describe the horrific workplace conditions that killed 112 garment workers in November. The unsafe and deadly working conditions at Tazreen are similar to those many Bangladesh garment workers face every day. But for many, living through the fire is just the beginning of their ordeal.
Sumi Describes Surviving the Tazreen Garment Factory Fire. April 25, 2013—Workers Memorial Day, internationally observed each April 28, is more timely than ever this year. The rising death toll from yesterday’s building collapse in Bangladesh and the recent workplace deaths at the fertilizer factory in West, Texas, serve as tragic reminders of how much more needs to be done to ensure the safety and health of workers around the world. As part of Workers Memorial Day events, the National Labor College in Silver Spring, Md., is hosting a symposium: “From Mourning to Mass Movements: Garment Workers, Fire Safety and the International Fight for Social Justice.”
Solidarity Center Mourns for Workers Killed in Bangladesh. April 24, 2013—Another four garment factories in Bangladesh became death traps today, and the Solidarity Center is mourning the senseless loss of life and the grievous injuries that have befallen hundreds of workers who were simply trying to make a living. The organization is calling on the Bangladesh government to enforce its labor and building codes, on brands that source from the country to prioritize health and safety conditions in factories, and on both to respect the rights of workers and to recognize that the only way Bangladesh will have safe factories is if workers have a voice on the job.
Hong Kong Dock Workers Strike against Exploitation and Injustice. April 15, 2013—About 450 Hong Kong dock workers continue their strike against port operator Hong Kong International Terminals (HIT), a subsidiary of billionaire Li Ka-shing’s Hutchison Whampoa, and its subcontractors. Struggling to live in one of the most expensive cities in the world, the workers are demanding higher pay and better working conditions.
Bangladesh: 1 Year Later, Murderer of Aminul Islam Still Free. April 4, 2013—The Solidarity Center and the international worker rights movement are commemorating Bangladesh union leader Aminul Islam, who was brutally murdered one year ago today. His murderer or murderers remain at large.
Bangladesh: Shrimp Industry to Address Working Conditions. March 27, 2013—In Bangladesh, shrimp industry leaders—at the urging of workers and human rights groups—have taken a step toward improving working conditions for the nearly 1 million shrimp workers who toil during peak season across the supply chain.
Report Examines Garment Factory Fires in Bangladesh, Pakistan. March 15, 2013—Two massive fires at garment factories in Bangladesh and Pakistan last year killed hundreds of workers, many trapped in buildings with inadequate or locked exits. A new report examining both horrific incidents finds that the deaths and injuries were “caused or exacerbated by illegal, unsafe buildings, faulty electrics or machinery, poor safety procedures and avoidable hazards such as blocked or inadequate fire exits.” The report, Fatal Fashions, points out that workers’ lack of freedom to form unions and bargain collectively to improve working conditions underlies this deadly environment.
Bangladesh: Three Months After Tazreen Fire, Little Change. February 20, 2013—Three months after at least 112 workers died in the Tazreen Fashion factory fire, dangerous and deadly working conditions are commonplace for the nearly 2 million Bangladeshi garment workers, who have little recourse than to take jobs that may kill them.
Worker Rights under Attack in the Maldives. February 5, 2013—Even as the Maldivian government further shuts the door on worker rights, union leaders and members of the Maldives Port Workers Union (MPWU) who were fired or suspended from their jobs in 2012 remain strong in their struggle. In recent days, Maldives President Mohammed Waheed Hassan Mani signed a bill into law that restricts freedom of assembly throughout the island nation. This move follows the firing and suspension of MPWU leaders and members by the state-owned Maldives Port Limited early last year.
India: 2.5 Million Miners Now Have Worker Compensation. January 31, 2013—Some 2.5 million mine workers in Rajasthan, India, will now be covered by worker compensation for job-related illnesses and injuries, a victory that stems from a multiyear campaign by safety and health advocates. The decision this week by the state of Rajasthan, in northwest India, also provides compensation to widows of miners who died from silicosis and creates a structure for improved safety standards.
Bangladesh: Seven Women Dead in A Preventable Factory Fire. January 28, 2013—Seven young women, at least two of them teenagers, died over the weekend in a Bangladesh garment factory fire—the 28th fire incident to frighten, injure or kill Bangladeshi garment workers since a deadly blaze at the Tazreen factory killed at least 112 workers in late November, according to Solidarity Center staff in Bangladesh. At least 491 garment workers have been injured on the job since the Tazreen blaze, according to information compiled by the Solidarity Center.
Cambodia: Brands Could Help Garment Workers Get Better Nutrition. January 24, 2013—Among the thousands of Cambodian garment workers who have fainted on the job over the past few years, many suffer from malnutrition, anemia and dehydration. Low wages and a relative monopoly on food canteens surrounding factories leave workers with few options for healthy food. In recent months, however, Cambodia’s garment manufacturers and unions have begun working together to urge clothing and apparel brand makers to fund one free meal for workers each day. The Solidarity Center played a key role in facilitating the agreement between the two groups.
ILO Report: 52 Million Domestic Workers Worldwide. January 9, 2013—Some 52 million people over age 15—primarily women—labor as domestic workers around the world, according to a report released today by the International Labor Organization (ILO). Of those, 83 percent are women. The vast number of domestic workers, 21.4 million, are in Asia and the Pacific region, with 19.6 million in Latin America, 5.2 million in Africa and 2.1 million in the Middle East.
Thailand: Police Get Manual to Combat Human Trafficking. January 4, 2012—Thai police will now be equipped with a detailed manual helping them identify and address human trafficking, a growing crime in many countries that involves forced labor or sexual exploitation. The Solidarity Center provided technical and financial support to the Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF) for the project. The HRDF then engaged in a series of lengthy consultations with a range of Thai government agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to compile the 346-page guidebook.
Bangladesh: 17 Garment Fires Since 112 Killed in Tazreen. December 21, 2012—It has been nearly a month since at least 112 Bangladeshi workers died in the horrific fire at Tazreen Fashion Ltd garment factory. A government probe has identified nine mid-level officials “who barred the workers from leaving the factory after the fire broke out,” according to the Bangladesh Daily Star Report. The factory owners kept fabric bales in the building’s basement, rather than in fireproof storage as required by Bangladesh law.
Sri Lanka: A Worker Center Offers a Model for Aiding Migrant Workers. December 18, 2012—With no other option to support her family in her native Sri Lanka, Nalani Samarasinghe, 41, has moved to Qatar three times for jobs ranging from 11 months to three years. At her last job as a domestic worker, she was expected to work between 5 a.m. and 1 a.m. daily with no holidays. In addition, the employer charged her rent and refused to let her return home for more than two years. Samarasinghe, who was interviewed by the Migrant Service Center in Sri Lanka, says she could not leave for a better job because migrant workers visa’s in Qatar are tied to a particular employer.
Bangladesh Garment Workers Federation Pledges Action at Factory Level. December 14, 2012—When Kona, a textile worker in Bangladesh, tried to help her co-workers win better conditions on the job, she was harassed to the point where she and her husband were forced into hiding. But through the assistance of the garment workers’ union federation, which negotiated a resolution with management, Kona ultimately resumed her life and work.
Bangladeshi Garment Workers Meet with U.S. Ambassador. December 12, 2012—Bangladeshi garment workers no longer are forced to stay on the job for literally weeks without a break and employers’ physical and verbal abuse has decreased—but significant improvements, especially in factory safety, remain to be made in the country’s important garment industry, several garment union leaders told a high ranking U.S. State Department official last weekend.
Interview: Labor, Business Must Partner for Ethical Investment in Burma. December 3, 2012—Political transformation is happening fast in Burma, but social and cultural change are just beginning—putting the country at a key tipping point for how it ultimately will be structured, says Pyi Thit Nyunt Wai, general secretary of the Federation of Trade Unions-Burma (FTUB). “We’re starting at ground zero. The country is like dough that’s being kneaded. We must decide what shape it has to be,” he says.
Paying with Their Lives: The High Cost of Cheap Clothing. November 28, 2012—Last weekend, more than 110 garment workers died in a fire that burned the Tazreen Fashion Ltd. garment factory on the outskirts of Dhaka. Women and men located on the second and third floors of the building were trapped when fire broke out in the first-floor warehouse. With no fire escapes, the only exits were stairs leading to the first floor, where the fire raged.
Bangladesh Protests Deaths of More than 100 Garment Workers. November 27, 2012—The Solidarity Center joins the international labor and human rights communities in expressing sorrow over the unnecessary and tragic loss of life at a Bangladesh garment factory over the weekend. Between 112 and 120 Bangladeshi garment workers—most of them women—have been confirmed killed in one of the nation’s worst industrial disasters in recent memory.
Bangladeshi Garment Workers File for Union at Zilani Apparels. October 22, 2012—Garment workers at Zilani Apparels Ltd., in Rampura, Dhaka, Bangladesh, formed a union in August with the help of the Bangladesh Federation of Workers’ Solidarity (BFWS) and now are waiting for the Labor Department to register it. More than 50 percent of the 350 garment workers at Zilani Apparels have joined together after recognizing that their individual efforts to improve wages and working conditions were not effective, says Fatema, a committee member.
Indonesia: Worker Solidarity Gets Results. November 2, 2012—A strike by 2 million blue-collar Indonesian workers over wages and job outsourcing resulted in government promises to improve worker pay and restrict the use of workers subcontracted through labor agencies. The one-day walkout in October halted work on more than 80 industrial “estates” (sites) mainly throughout Java and the island of Batam, across from Singapore.
Asia-Pacific: Quality and Quantity of Jobs Dropping. October 24, 2012—Economic growth has slowed down in many Asia-Pacific countries, affecting labour markets both in terms of the quantity and the quality of jobs available, according to an ILO report. The October 2012 Asia-Pacific Labour Market Update, says jobs growth in the region has slowed down compared to 2011, although the situation varies greatly among countries.
Solidarity Center Mourns Loss of Thai Union Leader. October 5, 2012—The Solidarity Center mourns the unexpected passing of Charan Komkhumtot, better known as Bualoi. Brother Bualoi worked for 13 years as an organizer for the Confederation of Thai Electrical Appliances, Electronic, Automobile and Metalworkers (TEAM), a longtime Solidarity Center partner.
INTERVIEW: Violence Rises against Bangladeshi Garment Workers. October 3, 2012—The murder earlier this year of a Bangladeshi union organizer is part of an escalation of attacks on the nation’s 4 million garment workers who seek to change abusive working conditions, says Kalpona Akter, executive director of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity (BCWS)
Victory for Domestic Workers as Philippines Ratifies ILO Convention 189. August 6, 2012—In a victory for domestic workers in the Philippines and around the world who are trying to secure decent wages, benefits and recognition, the Philippines is the second country to ratify International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 189, Decent Work for Domestic Workers. The conventionówhich addresses issues such as wages, working conditions, benefits, labor brokers and child laboró goes into force one year after two countries approve it. Uruguay ratified C189 in April 2012.
Fighting for Agate-Processing Workers in India. August 8, 2012—Agate-processing workers have achieved their first major legislative success in India’s Gujarat state—official recognition that their jobs can kill them. The state government of the Gujarat has issued official notification of a 2007 resolution specifying that the heirs of agate workers who die as a result of the occupational lung disease silicosis be compensated Rs.1 lakh (approximately $1,800) through an insurance scheme. While heartened by this initial victory, activists continue to press forward with several other crucial demands.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton Meets with Cambodian Women Unionists, Defends Worker Rights. July 16, 2012—During her tour of Southeast Asia, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton urged the greater protection of worker rights, improvement of labor standards, and the empowerment of women following a private meeting in Cambodia with union leaders and labor activists.
Bangladesh: Group Demands Full Investigation into Murder of Aminul Islam. June 14, 2012—Solidarity Center staff joined family and colleagues of Aminul Islam at a press conference last week to call for justice in Aminul’s murder. Aminul, a union organizer and president of the Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers’ Federation (BGIWF)’s local committee in the Savar and Ashulia areas of Dhaka, was found dead on April 5, 2012. He had been severely tortured and beaten.
Congressional Hearing Focuses on Worker Rights in Bangladesh. June 20, 2012—Bangladesh's longstanding abuse of worker rights, failure to enforce labor laws, and increasing violence against labor activists, including threats and murder, were the focus of a human rights hearing yesterday on Capitol Hill, where a senior Solidarity Center staffer and other regional and rights experts provided testimony.
Report Aims to Expose Extent of Workplace Death and Disease for Asian Workers. April 26, 2012—Asia is facing an onslaught of work-related deaths and diseases. Of the 2.2 million people who die each year all over the world as a result of work-related accidents or illness, 1.1 million are Asian. Yet the problem of workplace health and safety and its victims remains invisible, according to a new report released today in commemoration of Workers Memorial Day by the Asia Monitor Resource Centre (AMRC), a Solidarity Center partner.
Kuwait and Bahrain Unions Become First in the Gulf to Forge an Official Trade Union Relationship with Nepal. January 20, 2012—Gulf States are relying on as many as 15 million migrant workers from Asia to grow their economies. As the economies of Kuwait and Bahrain thrive on migrant labor, Nepal’s largest employer is the Gulf States, where families depend on making money overseas.
Can Unions Open Burma? November 4, 2011—Progressive Policy Institute | Solidarity Center rule of law expert Earl Brown discusses whether Burma's new labor law, which for the first time in memory appears to permit independent unions to register and function legally, will bear real results for workers.
India: Worker Rights Require More Attention. September 14, 2011—The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) today released a report on core labor standards in India coinciding with the Trade Policy Review of India at the World Trade Organization. India has ratified only four core ILO labor conventions. The report finds poor compliance with international labor standards, especially with regard to child labor.
Malaysia: Japanese Firm Must Drop Defamation Charges against Human Rights Defender and Respect the Rights of Migrant Workers. August 16, 2011—On February 14, 2011, the Malaysian subsidiary of Japanese electronics firm Asahi Kosei filed a $3.2 million defamation suit against human rights defender Charles Hector after he posted on his blog reports he received from Burmese migrant workers detailing violations of their worker and human rights at the company.
Burmese Unions Wecome Release of Aung San Suu Kyi (FTUB press release). The Federation of Trade Unions of Burma celebrates with joy and emotion, the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the heroine and leader of the people and workers of Burma, and expresses its deep emotion and joy," says FTUB General Secretary Maung Maung. The FTUB, in spite of the fact that its activity is strongly prohibited and repressed by the military junta, organizes tens of thousands of workers in all sectors and workplaces of the country.
No Action in Attack on Nepali Union Leader. A national union leader in Nepal who was attacked several months ago is still waiting for a resolution and police action.
Thai Unions Establish Help Centers for Laid-Off Workers. A longtime Solidarity Center partner is one of 34 labor organizations in Thailand that have joined forces to help unemployed workers obtain legal assistance, verify whether layoffs were justified, and coordinate their findings with the government.
Pakistani Unions Show Respect for Women, Youth. While fundamentalist groups urge women to stay home and give up their jobs (under threat of death), the Pakistan Workers Federation strives to raise women’s income-generating capabilities by offering them vocational training and education and by calling for opportunities for women to participate in decision-making bodies at all levels, says the latest issue of the federation’s newsletter, One Voice of Workers.
Democratic Trade Unions in Nepal Face Tough Fight with New Regime. In Nepal, unions are still struggling to promote democracy and the rights of workers, reports the Solidarity Center’s Tim Ryan from Kathmandu.
Migrant Worker Associations Provide Safety Net for Sri Lankans. Over ten years ago, in 1998, Solidarity Center union partners in Sri Lanka began a process to organize migrant workers and integrate them into a comprehensive economic and social safety net before, during, and after migration.
Legal Clinic for Burmese Migrant Workers. Hundreds of thousands of Burmese migrant workers in Thai factories along the Thailand-Burma border are underpaid, overworked, attacked, and murdered. The Solidarity Center and the Thai bar association have opened a legal clinic to help protect these workers’ rights.
Opening the Door to EPZ Unions in Bangladesh. The Solidarity Center helped pass and implement a new law that gives workers the right to organize trade unions in Export Processing Zones.
Asian Labor Network on International Financial Institutions. In Southeast Asia, the Solidarity Center formed a network to raise workers' voice in the global economy.
Solidarity Center Publications