Solidarity Center
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The Solidarity Center's mission is to help build a global labor movement by strengthening the economic and political power of workers around the world through effective, independent and democratic unions.

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Bangladesh Worker Rights Defense Fund

Bangladeshi union organizers are in peril and need your help. Please donate now to support them as they reach out to garment workers in unsafe factories. Find out more.
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Where We Work

The High Cost of Low Wages in Haiti
Haiti's apparel exports have increased 45 percent since the 2010 earthquake. Yet garment workers who make goods destined for the U.S. market barely earn enough to pay for lunch and transportation to work, a new Solidarity Center survey finds.

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Global Unions Help Win Pact at Georg Fischer in Turkey

July 25, 2014—This is a crosspost from the global union IndustriALL.

IndustriALL’s Turkish affiliate, Lastik-Is, has thanked IndustriALL, Swiss affiliate UNIA and all other supporters for the solidarity campaign that contributed to the signing of a collective bargaining agreement with George Fischer Hakan Plastik, beating an attempt at union busting.

Lastik-Is general president, Abdullah Karacan, told IndustriALL the collective bargaining agreement was signed on July 22. The signing signifies a long-fought victory to organize workers at the Turkish subsidiary of Swiss based Georg Fischer, a market-leading producer of plastic tubing.

Read the full article.

End Worker Exploitation to End Human Trafficking’

July 24, 2014—Understanding the link between worker rights violations and human trafficking “is key to eradicating this horrific human rights abuse globally,” said Neha Misra, Solidarity Center senior specialist for migration and human trafficking, today at a crowded hearing on Capitol Hill. “In other words, end worker exploitation to end human trafficking.”

Misra testified today at the Tom Lantos’s Human Rights Commission hearing on “Modern Day Slavery and What We Buy.”

Gaza's Unions Under Fire

July 23, 2014—On an ordinary working day, activists from the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU)-Gaza conduct labor rights education and outreach to worksites around Gaza. In the past six months, Organizing Department Head Ahmad Hillis and other union officials have visited more than 180 workplaces including hospitals, pharmacies, universities and construction sites. (Arabic version of this article here.)

Through one-one-one conversations, the organizers have documented exchanges with 234 workers and informally registered 54 new union members. (PGFTU Gaza is not currently able to maintain offices or collect membership fees).

Today, as the fighting rages, the union’s outreach work is different. Trade unionists spend their days checking on other families and injured persons, talking with employees and owners of razed workplaces, trying to provide assistance where they can and helping to get people to UN agencies and aid organizations, where they can receive lifesaving and other assistance.   

A New Vision for the African Growth and Opportunity Act

July 21, 2014—This is a crosspost from the AFL-CIO.

The AFL-CIO and the Solidarity Center released a new policy brief Thursday on how to improve the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and ensure that it delivers on its ambitious goals of supporting democratic governance, enhancing civil society, combating corruption and promoting the rule of law in Sub-Saharan Africa.

In the 15 years AGOA has been in effect, it has increased exports from sub-Saharan Africa, but by focusing mostly on tariff reductions, it has not spurred broader development or fostered a robust and equitable economic system.

AGOA gives eligible sub-Saharan countries duty-free access to the U.S. market for a variety of products. To qualify, countries must establish or make “continual progress toward establishing” measures that promote good governance and a fair economic system. 

Read the full article.

African Trade Unions and Africa’s Future: Strategic Choices

July 15, 2014—The rapid economic growth of many African countries is not translating into good jobs or worker rights, especially for women, and worker organizations, governments and business must be more proactive in expanding employment and improving wages and social protections, according to a new Solidarity Center report.

African Trade Unions and Africa’s Future:  Strategic Choices in a Changing World” calls for measures to promote job creation, secure worker rights, invest in social and physical infrastructure and achieve gender equality.

Based on a 2013 survey of trade unionists in nine African countries, the report finds that trade unions have played a significant part in the political and economic lives of their countries.

Women-Led Coalition Empowers Women Across the Niger Delta

July 15, 2014—In Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta, where the nation’s vast oil revenue has not benefited working people, who typically are paid less than $2 per day, women and children are especially vulnerable. Yet in the face of corruption, environmental degradation, gender discrimination and human rights abuses, a unique, women-led grassroots coalition is training and mobilizing women in urban and rural communities, empowering them to hold local lawmakers accountable and achieve concrete goals in their communities.

Women Initiative for Transparency and Social Justice (WITSOJ), a coalition of union and community groups, formed in 2007, inspried by a Solidarity Center workshop on women's empowerment and civil-society participation in Warri, a major oil city in Delta State. Since then, WITSOJ Women-Led Coalition Empowers Women Across the Niger Delta.

Report: Tunisia’s Informal Sector Workers Lack Decent Conditions

July 14, 2014—Tunisia is among many countries around the world seeing rapid growth in their informal economies. In 2013, Tunisia’s informal economy accounted for 38 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), up from 30 percent in 2010.

A new study by the Tunisian General Labor Union (Union Générale Tunisienne du Travail, UGTT) and the Solidarity Center looks at factors fueling the expansion of Tunisia’s informal economy and offers recommendations for helping workers in the informal sector get job security and social protections they often do not have as domestic workers, street vendors and construction workers. 

“The Current State of the Informal Economy in Tunisia as Seen through Its Stakeholders: Facts and Alternatives,” incorporates data from a field survey of 1,128 informal economy workers conducted by 100 UGTT young worker volunteers

24 Bangladesh Union Leaders Complete Fire Training

July 11, 2014—Twenty-four garment worker union leaders and organizers in Bangladesh have completed a first-of-its-kind, in-depth training course on fire and building safety, conducted by the Solidarity Center and Selim Newaz Bhuiya, former deputy director of Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defense.

The 10-session course aims to equip union leaders with essential knowledge and skills on workplace safety. These workers will now, in turn, educate their co- workers and strengthen their unions’ ability to raise and rectify unsafe factory working conditions.

Forced Labor: Panel Spotlights Migrant Worker Plight in Mideast

July 11, 2014—Migrant workers to the Arabian Gulf states are rarely covered by labor law and generally denied the ability to exercise fundamental human rights, including freedom of association, which makes them vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, said panelists at a standing-room-only Capitol Hill briefing Tuesday.

Migrant workers to countries such as Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar endure a “triangle of oppression,” in which they pay steep fees to get a job, generally have their passports taken by employers once they arrive in country and then find they have no legal protection or recourse when they are abused, said Sarah Leah Whitson,executive director for the Middle East and North Africa Division of Human Rights Watch.

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