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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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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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Bangladesh Worker Rights Defense Fund
Bangladeshi union organizer Hasina Akter was talking with garment workers in Dhaka when a group of at least 20 people accosted her and the three other union organizers and a worker leader with her. She and her companions were threatened and beaten, one into unconsciousness. Two organizers had to be hospitalized following the assault, and the factory worker went into hiding.

The February attack was not an isolated incident. Union organizers in Bangladesh are in constant peril, and these brave women and men need your help.

Find out more.

Donate now to the Bangladesh Worker Rights Defense Fund.


Bangladesh: More Firings at Factory Where Workers Seek a Union

April 18, 2014—Garment workers continue to be fired and harassed at the Taratex BD Ltd. factory in Gazipur, Bangladesh, according to the Bangladesh Independent Garment Workers Union Federation (BIGUF). More than 100 workers have been fired since they filed for union registration at the factory on February 4.

On Sunday, BIGUF says factory managers detained the new union president and general secretary and pressured them to immediately resign from their positions in the factory by signing previously prepared documents. They signed the documents after they were reportedly threatened, and were then removed from the factory.


Rana Plaza One Year Later: Living in Constant Pain

April 18, 2014—When the multistory Rana Plaza building collapsed on April 24, 2014, in Bangladesh, Moriom Begum was trapped for two days in the room where she worked as a sewing operator. Hunched in the dark, unable to move beneath a sewing stool and suffering from serious injuries, Moriom was surrounded by the lifeless bodies of her co-workers. As the long hours dragged by, Moriom thought, “I will never see the world again.”

Moriom, who had worked for more than three years at New Wave Style, one of five factories in the building, lost her right hand in the disaster and suffers from continuous pain in her wrist. She recently was fitted with an artificial hand, but she says “the hand is very heavy. “This hand seems like an extra burden for me.”


Garment Exports Rise but Haitian Workers Paid Starvation Wages

April 17, 2014—Despite a 45 percent increase in apparel exports since the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the women and men who sew T-shirts and jeans primarily destined for the U.S. market barely earn enough to pay for their lunch and transportation to work, a new Solidarity Center survey finds.

The average cost of living for an export apparel worker in Port-au-Prince is 26,150 Haitian gourdes (about $607) per month. Yet workers are paid only between 200 gourdes per eight-hur day (about $4.64) and 300 gourdes for an eight-hour day (about $6.96). After insurance and social security deductions, most export apparel workers must spend more than half of their salaries on transportation to and from the factory and a modest lunch, leaving little to sustain a family or keep a roof over their heads.


We Remember Iqbal Masih's Life: A Call to Human Rights Vigilance

April 17, 2014—Tim, Solidarity Center Asia Regional director, wrote this article on  May 3, 1995 for The Christian Science Monitor. Iqbal Masih, died 19 years ago today. This is a crosspost from the Child Labor Coalition, of which the Solidarity Center is a member.

Anyone who knew Iqbal Masih, the 12-year-old boy recently assassinated in Lahore, Pakistan, by someone believed to be a feudal landlord and carpet manufacturer, was struck by his brilliance.

Although malnutrition and abuse left him, at the age of 12, physically smaller and more frail than my nine-year-old daughter, it was clear that his mind, his ambition and his spirit burned brightly.


Wall St. Journal: Bangladesh Union Organizers Allege Intimidation

April 14, 2014—The Wall Street Journal today highlights a February attack on union organizers in Bangladesh in which a garment worker leader and four union organizers, including two women, were badly injured after being beaten. The incident occurred while the organizers were talking with garment workers from Chunji Knit Ltd.

The article notes that Chunji did not pay workers the legal minimum wage after the government raised it to $67 a month last November. When  workers at Chunji tried to form a union, they were fired, one worker said.


Zimbabwe Women Key to Making Workplace Rights a Reality

April 11, 2014—Zimbabwe women workers are key to ensuring the implementation of workplace rights established by the country’s new constitution, says Fiona Magaya, coordinator of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) Gender Department. The constitution, ratified in 2013, also expands the rights of women, but to make those rights a reality, “We have to train women to know these rights and to build on these rights in the workplace,” she says.

As part of that effort, ZCTU and its Gender Department are rolling out awareness trainings at the regional level. Nationally, the federation is promoting policy changes that would improve labor laws covering family leave for women and men, maternity leave and sexual harassment. The federation also is backing a proposed Domestic Violence Act that addresses gender-based violence. 


Hard-won Victory for Workers at Vidriera de San Potosí in Mexico

April 11, 2014—This is a crosspost from the global union IndustriAll. (Watch a video on the workers’ long struggle.)

Thirty-three workers won an important victory in their fight for reinstatement at Vidriera de San Luis Potosí. The company, which dismissed hundreds of workers in 2008 for forming an independent trade union, makes bottles for the export beer brand Corona Extra and is a subsidiary of Grupo Modelo-AB InBev.

The independent trade union, Sindicato Único de Trabajadores de la Empresa Industria Vidriera del Potosí (SUTEIVP), with strong support from its members (about 850), won a 19 percent pay rise in 2007, higher than any won for a long time in the state. The response of companies located at the San Luis Potosí industrial estate was not long in coming. They felt they could not tolerate this unacceptable precedent in labor relations, which showed that an independent union founded by theworkers themselves could provide an alternative to “official” trade unionism.


Briefing: Decent Work for Adults Can Reduce Child Labor

April 9, 2014—Reducing and eliminating child labor requires a focus on decent work for adults, said Solidarity Center Executive Director Shawna Bader-Blau, speaking yesterday on Capitol Hill. Such an approach, she said, must build the capacity of vulnerable workers to negotiate the terms of their employment and to advocate for local and national policies that address the economic welfare of entire communities.

Bader-Blau joined a panel of experts in a congressional briefing, “Combating Exploitative Child Labor,” sponsored by the Alliance to End Slavery & Trafficking (ATEST), a coalition spearheaded by the nonprofit Humanity United, and the Child Labor Coalition—both of which include the Solidarity Center.  (Watch a video of the full event.)


Morocco: 300,000 March for Economic and Social Justice

April 9, 2014—Calling for greater economic and social justice, more than 300,000 working people marched in Casablanca, Morocco, to protest official indifference to reduced consumer purchasing power and increasingly degraded public services.

In a strong show of union solidarity, workers filled the streets Sunday after a joint call to action by the Democratic Confederation of Labor (CDT), the Democratic Federation of Labor (FDT) and the Moroccan Labor Union (UMT).

 
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