Issued by Maina Kiai, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of assembly and of association with assistance from the Solidarity Center, the report finds that the vast majority of the world’s workers are disenfranchised from their rights to assembly and association—rights that are fundamental to all other human rights—either by exclusion or outright oppression.
Although Sri Lanka’s labor code sets the minimum wage, the maximum number of work hours per day and work days per week, and establishes rules around overtime and benefits, many employers in Jaffna, the country’s northern province, are flaunting the statutes. The vast majority of workers are unaware of their rights regarding pay, benefits and a written contract.
Wage theft is widespread throughout the the public- and private-sectors, with Zimbabweans working months without a paycheck. Based on surveys at 442 companies, the report documents the vast scope of wage theft; outlines the responsibilities of the state under international standards and national legislation; documents extravagant salaries and benefits to middle and top management even as workers go unpaid; and presents recommendations for action to address the problem.
Convening experts from the AFL-CIO, the Rutgers University Center for Women’s Global Leadership and the Solidarity Center, this report examines how to shift governments’ policy priorities, create an enabling environment for social organizing and transform women’s interaction with labor markets within a rights-based model of development.
Unions are key drivers advancing gender equality. Yet in many countries around the world, there is a disconnect between labor union policy and practice in transforming gender inequalities within trade unions. Through the lens of the South African union movement, this report explores the disconnect and examines new strategies for closing the gap between policy and practice.
This paper investigates the intersection of labor migration and the inclusive growth agenda, and seeks to recommend policies so governments of origin countries can, in part, expand labor migration’s positive impacts by making migrant workers agents in promoting and realizing an inclusive growth agenda in their origin communities.
Fordham University law professor Jennifer Gordon examines the roles of guest workers as organizers, monitors and policy-setters in supply chain initiatives and other efforts to address labor recruitment violations.
In this review of initiatives to regulate labor brokers, the authors find that state and civil society efforts to address migrant worker exploitation point to potential new policies, most effectively led by state-backed regulatory frameworks.
Irreconciliable Differences? Pursuing the Capabilities Approach within the Global Governance of Migration (2014)
This report on global labor migration challenges the current “triple win” paradigm in global migration policy through a worker rights lens, and argues that when applying the now-accepted “capabilities” approach, the international development community must focus on the recognition and protection of the rights of migrant workers, their families and their communities.
This new Solidarity Center report looks at how the Asian Network for the Rights of Occupational and Environmental Victims (ANROEV) and its member organizations are empowering workers across Asia through a regionwide coalition to assist workers exposed to dangerous and unhealthy workplaces.
Earl V. Brown, Jr. & Kyle A. deCant
Solidarity Center Labor and Employment Counsel Earl Brown and co-author Kyle deCant examine the legal issues surrounding the growing numbers of China’s industrial interns, the latest class of “cheap” labor to be deployed in Chinese private industry.
A unique grassroots coalition based in the Niger Delta, working with unions and other local non-governmental organizations, is providing a platform for women and young people to effectively engage in the democratic political process, hold local lawmakers accountable and achieve concrete goals in their communities.
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.
A September 2013 Dominican court ruling taking away citizenship from many migrants means they will be excluded from any activity that requires official identification, including working in the formal sector, attending school, opening a bank account, accessing health services, getting married, traveling or voting.
This report looks at the political and economic context within which Sri Lankan unions have attempted to respond to migrant workers, unions’ role in the key governance and policy mechanisms that pertain to labor migration, and the way the Sri Lankan labor movement responded to international migrant workers.
This report look at South African labor’s complicated engagement with migrant workers by examining the migration policy debate, labor’s response to the xenophobic attacks of 2008 and two organizing campaign in the agricultural sector. It sheds light on how labor migration and hostility toward immigrants are intertwined with the state’s embrace of neo-liberal economic policy and with growing labor precariousness.
This report synthesizes a two-year project. Part one consisted of desk and case study research conducted by telephone in Jordan and the Dominican Republic looking into cases where unions had made significant changes in their approach to migrant worker organizing. Part two involved field studies in South Africa and Sri Lanka and provides analysis of strategies and results.
This report explores the challenges of empowering domestic workers in South Africa through the traditional trade union focus on worker rights, democratic voice and collective action. This Solidarity Center report is part of a multiyear research project, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, to study the informal economy, migration, gender and rule of law together with research partners Rutgers and WIEGO.
Bringing Back the Heart: The Gender at Work Action Learning Process with Four South African Unions (2013)
Four South African unions took part in a unique process with the South Africa Gender Action Learning Program and Labour Research Service to challenge male–dominated, hierarchical cultures. This report describes the step-by-step journey that led to more women joining unions and taking on leadership positions—and ultimately becoming inspired to carry on the hard work of ensuring gender equality remains an integral part of their unions.
In overviewing self-organizing among such informal economy workers as waste pickers, domestic workers and construction workers, this report finds the lines are increasingly blurred between jobs in the formal and informal economies. This Solidarity Center report is part of a multiyear research project, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, to study the informal economy, migration, gender and rule of law together with research partners Rutgers and WIEGO.
Trade Unions Organizing Workers “Informalized from Above”: Case Studies from Cambodia, Colombia, South Africa and Tunisia (Rutgers, 2013)
Four case studies examine successful union organizing among workers whose jobs have been privatized, outsourced or contracted out. This Solidarity Center report is part of a multiyear research project, funded by the U.S. Agency forInternational Development, to study the informal economy, migration, gender and rule of law together with research partners Rutgers and WIEGO.
Informal Workers and Collective Bargaining: Case Studies from India, Georgia, Brazil, Liberia and Uruguay (WIEGO, 2013)
This report details a set of case studies on collective bargaining by informal workers in four different countries: Waste pickers in Minas Gerais state in Brazil, beedi workers in India, Georgia minibus taxi workers and street vendors in Monrovia, Liberia. The study also references the efforts of domestic workers in Uruguay.
The Migrant Services Center, a Solidarity Center partner, is assisting migrant workers and their families in Sri Lanka while championing structural change through legislative and governmental processes, and offers a model for other labor and worker rights organizations.
Many domestic workers around the world are vulnerable to exploitation and not recognized by national labor laws. But in the Dominican Republic, domestic workers have campaigned to make gains over the last two decades—and a new Solidarity Center report shows how.
Emergent Solidarities: Labor Movement Responses to Migrant Workers in the Dominican Republic and Jordan (Rutgers, 2013)
This report explores examples of unions making significant change in their approaches to migrant worker organizing and how the Solidarity Center has played a role in shifting union thinking about migrant workers and supporting union engagement and activities. Part one of a two-part report. This Solidarity Center report is part of a multiyear research project, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, to study the informal economy, migration, gender and rule of law together with research partners Rutgers and WIEGO.
Current State of the Informal Economy in Tunisia as Seen through Its Stakeholders: Facts and Alternatives (June 2014)
A new Solidarity Center study takes a close look at the factors fueling the massive growth of Tunisia’s informal economy, and recommends actions to help shift workers in the precarious informal sector to jobs with health coverage and other social benefits.
Trade Union Organizing in the Informal Economy: A Review of the Literature on Organizing in Africa, Asia, Latin America, North America and Western, Central and Eastern Europe (Rutgers, 2013)
This report reviews the literature of efforts throughout the globe by workers who labor outside the formal labor economy of their countries to form or join trade unions as well as unions’ efforts to organize and represent them. This Solidarity Center report is part of a multiyear research project, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, to study the informal economy, migration, gender and rule of law together with research partners Rutgers and WIEGO.
Cambodia’s nascent independent labor movement and human rights organizations worked to revise a labor law proposed in 2011 that would have significantly rolled back worker rights—and a Solidarity Center report describes how they did it.
In 2011, Tunisian women helped spur protests and end autocratic regimes in Tunisia and throughout the Arabic-speaking world. Today, a Solidarity Center report finds Tunisian women remain in the forefront of ensuring democratic change in their country during the difficult years of government transition.
Solidarity Center Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund: Workers Helping Workers Recover and Rebuild. Final Report, January 2010-March 2013
Following the devastating January 12, 2010, earthquake in Haiti, the Solidarity Center established a relief fund to route donations from U.S. unions and workers to Haitian workers and their families in need. The final report on these efforts, released on the third anniversary of the earthquake, describes how the Solidarity Center and its partners have made a significant impact in the lives of Haitian workers and their families.
Bangladesh’s labor code addresses pay, working hours, and on-the-job conditions. However, in the shrimp-processing industry, the code is not being adequately enforced. Bangladeshi shrimp-processing workers—the majority of whom are women—still face inadequate health and safety protections at work and receive less than the minimum wage, among other violations of their rights.
A critical review of the English-language research on gender equality and labor movements highlighting “best practice” case studies around the world most relevant to those engaged in building democratic and humane societies. This Solidarity Center report is part of a multiyear research project, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, to study the informal economy, migration, gender and rule of law together with research partners Rutgers and WIEGO.
Home-based Workers in the Export Garment Sector in Bangladesh: An Exploratory Study in Dhaka City (Wiego, 2012)
Workers in the home-based export garment sector remain an invisible segment of the labor market, and this report is first step toward a systematic documentation of this phenomenon, with special emphasis on employment conditions, worker livelihoods and issues affecting unionization. This Solidarity Center report is part of a multiyear research project, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, to study the informal economy, migration, gender and rule of law together with research partners Rutgers and WIEGO.
This report highlights key lessons from a WIEGO pilot project in India examining the nature of the informal economy and the way legal and policy tools can address the concerns of those working in the informal economy. This Solidarity Center report is part of a multiyear research project, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, to study the informal economy, migration, gender and rule of law together with research partners Rutgers and WIEGO.
This survey of labor rights in Indonesia finds that although improvements have been made since the fall of the Suharto government, serious violations persist, including: discrimination against women in the workplace; anti-union discrimination by employers; interference with workers’ right to strike and collectively bargain.
This report explores how the degradation of work in the oil-rich Niger Delta jeopardizes the livelihoods and well-being of workers and their families and results in fewer opportunities for Nigerians to improve working and living conditions, especially in local communities that have seen little benefit from the profitable sector.
The situation for workers in Egypt in 2010 sadly bears all too much similarity to that conflict between Egyptian workers and their government so many centuries ago. Today’s Egyptian government maintains an iron grip on power, harshly punishes dissent and plays a central role in a system that keeps workers powerless and poor.
This 2009 Solidarity Center study focuses on migrant men who have worked on Thai fishing boats out of the port of Mahachai in Samut Sakhon province, examining recruitment practices, working conditions and payment practices to assess the patterns and prevalence of human trafficking on commercial fishing boats.
In little more than 30 years, the shrimp industry has been revolutionized through an unprecedented increase in efficient production, resulting in tremendous profitability for producers. But the “shrimp boom” is sustained through a staggering, largely hidden, cost to workers, their families and the environment.
Guatemala’s laws include unreasonable restrictions and requirements on union membership and the right to strike. Women workers are usually paid less than their male counterparts for work of equal value. Indigenous workers and rural workers, with few legal rights, are particular targets of discrimination. Guatemala’s migrant workers—both internal migrants and workers who migrate to work in other countries—suffer some of the worst abuses. Despite these discouraging conditions, Guatemalan workers and their unions are determined to establish justice at the workplace and in their country.
“Justice for All” examines the effects of global economic integration in the late 20th century on worker rights, including the growth of the informal economy and migration and human labor trafficking, and looks at how government, corporations and unions can help resolve the global crisis in jobs and working conditions.
Trafficking in Persons from a Labor Perspective: The Kenyan Experience provides readers with a general overview of human trafficking in persons from a labor perspective, with a focus on universal and global themes as illustrated by the experiences in Kenya. The country is a source, transit and destination for women, men and children trafficked for forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation.
This 70-page handbook incorporates staff insights and experiences into checklists and tools needed to develop programs that redress gender inequity in the workplace, promote leadership roles for women, and move closer to achieving full worker rights.
Swazi workers face many challenges, especially women workers, who have a low status in Swazi society and make up a large percentage of the workforce, yet endure discrimination and workplace sexual harassment and violence. Improvements at the workplace cannot be secured until, as the report notes, the Swazi government engages in full democratic reform that allows Swaziland’s people to govern themselves and to exercise their rights to make economic, political and social decisions that affect their lives.
Building worker power is fundamental to achieving worker rights, and organizing strong unions is fundamental to achieving worker power–and this hands-on guide gives trainers the tools they need to build unity and ultimately, change the rules of the game.
Colombian trade unionists face daily threats of violence and assassination, attempts by employers, paramilitaries, guerrillas and the state to stop dissent, silence workers and destroy the only mechanism that gives workers some control over their economic lives: their union. Yet the Colombian labor movement has faced all these challenges by building a broad leadership base with deep rank-and-file roots.
The report looks at Indonesia’s migrant worker system, which is under intense scrutiny over allegations of contributing to debt bondage and trafficking of migrant workers. It also examines efforts of government and non-government organizations to combat trafficking, and the effectiveness of legislation to combat trafficking, enacted during the last three years.
“The Struggle for Worker Rights in Jordan” lays out steps the Jordanian government, Jordanian unions, multinational enterprises and actors on the international stage can take to ensure respect for and enforcement of worker rights in Jordan. By following this path, Jordan can give working people a chance to share in the prosperity they are helping to create.
“The Struggle for Worker Rights in China” holds China’s labor law and practice up to international standards enshrined in International Labor Organization conventions and the ILO’s 1998 Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.
“Trafficking of Women and Children in Indonesia” examines the many forms of human labor trafficking, their causes and the demographics fueling the rise of women and children in forced and exploitative labor.
The first report in the Solidarity Center’s “Justice for All” series, takes a hard look at Mexico’s century-long fight for independent, democratic trade unions and social justice. Author Lance Compa puts Mexico’s labor law and practice to the test against international worker rights standards reflected in International Labor Organization
conventions and the ILO’s 1998 Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.