Why women have the biggest stake in $15/hour minimum wageMarch 8, 2014
Raising the minimum wage is actually a women’s rights issue. This year’s celebration of International Women’s Day would be incomplete without contextualizing it within the ongoing minimum wage battles across the U.S., which have already won victories in many cities, the largest win hopefully to come from Seattle’s fight for $15/hr. Women like Socialist Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant have arisen as the pillars of the movement, because as in so many other social justice struggles, women will be the ones with the most to gain.
The gender pay gap in the U.S. is a full-blown crisis.  We rank 67th out of 133 countries in pay equity, just below Yemen (World Economic Forum, 2013). Over the course of a lifetime, women will actually need an extra degree in order to earn equal pay to men with a lower degree. This is especially bad news for the 53% of women graduates who are paying a much higher portion of their income towards student loan debt than any typical worker could afford, as opposed to 39% of men in the same situation (American Association of University Women, 2009).
The current wage structure, coupled with racial discrimination, keeps women of color particularly in perpetual poverty, with Black American women earning 64% and Latinas earning 55% of the wages of white men (U.S. Census Bureau, 2012).
The Seattle metropolitan area, where the fight for $15 is strongest, has the worst gender pay gap of any major metropolitan area in the country. Seattle women are paid only 73 cents for each  dollar that men earn for full-time work, which translates to a total loss for women of $7.9 billion every year. As a result, 23% of Seattle households where women are primary breadwinners fall below the poverty line (U.S. Census Bureau, 2012).
Women have a major stake in building the $15 minimum wage movement, not least becausewomen make up two-thirds of minimum wage workers (National Women’s Law Center, 2012). Women are also 60% of the primary or co-bread winners in their households (thinkprogress.org) and 70% of the restaurant servers that earn a tipped minimum wage of only $2.13/hr on average (Restaurant Opportunities Center United, 2012). So women especially have an interest in fighting for a minimum wage increase that has no tip penalties or other exemptions. (The Seattle mayor and most the city council are trying to include a tip penalty and multiple exemptions in the minimum wage ordinance, which Socialist Councilmember Sawant strongly disagrees with.)
A higher national minimum wage would significantly shrink the gender wage gap, and would benefit 13.1 million women. 8.9 million of women would receive a direct benefit; the other 4.2 million would benefit from what the Economic Policy Institute (2012) calls a “spillover effect,” where wages across the board are increased as the wage floor is lifted.
Unfortunately the implementation of a higher minimum wage is by no means guaranteed without a real fight, even after progressive legislation is enacted. One example is the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which most people don’t even know exists because equal pay still remains elusive 50 years after its passage. The Paycheck Fairness Act, meant to strengthen the 1963 legislation, has been twice introduced and twice rejected in Congress.
It has become glaringly clear in recent years that Congress is a place where working-class priorities are ignored. That’s why the minimum wage movement needs to be independent of the two corporate parties, and must be willing to demand more than just legislative reforms. This means pushing beyond the realm of what the owners of capital tell us is possible, because as long as the current global wage system continues, women will never see pay parity.
Just look at how public-sector jobs, which are mostly filled by women, were first to be gutted during the economic recession, and continue to disappear despite this “recovery” period. These middle-income jobs have been replaced by low-wage jobs in the private sector, such as in retail and service work, further emaciating the income base of women. This is a big reason why the gender pay gap has actually widened since the start of this so-called “recovery.”
In this crisis-prone system of capitalism, women and people of color will always be the first to suffer when the economy tanks, and jobs, wages, and social services are cut to protect profitability. And they will continue to suffer even after corporate profits have rebounded– unless we join together, organize unions, and demand a living wage through campaigns such as 15Now.org.
At the rate of current efforts to close the gender pay gap, it would be year 2056 before women earned as much as men (Institute for Women’s Policy Research, 2012). Now that it is a Congressional election year, Obama and the Democrats are talking about gradually raising the minimum wage to $10.10 over a few years.  In Seattle Mayor Murray and most the City Council claim they want to move toward $15, but not until 2017 (with many loopholes and exemptions). Any increase is a step in the right direction, but we need to demand $15 for all workers NOW.
We also need to rethink the viability of an economic structure that cannot provide a decent standard of living for the women that make up half of its population, to say the least. Something different is needed. On this International Women’s Day, women will find that their liberation is inextricably linked not only to the movement for higher wages but also the struggle against the capitalist system of wage-slavery itself.
We need to fundamentally change the structure of our society that allows a corporate elite to super-exploit women and workers of color – a system with a ruling elite that promotes sexism, racism, and homophobia to divide the working class. It is in the interest of women and oppressed groups to unite all workers – women and men, black, brown and white – to fight the capitalist elite who are exploiting and dividing all of us.
In order to guarantee equal pay for equal work and dignified work and pay for all, we need to take the top 500 corporations into public ownership. We need to establish a democratically planned socialist economy where corporations are run by councils of representatives who are paid the same as the average skilled worker – representatives who are elected by the workers and the wider public and subject to recall.
Source

Why women have the biggest stake in $15/hour minimum wage
March 8, 2014

Raising the minimum wage is actually a women’s rights issue. This year’s celebration of International Women’s Day would be incomplete without contextualizing it within the ongoing minimum wage battles across the U.S., which have already won victories in many cities, the largest win hopefully to come from Seattle’s fight for $15/hr. Women like Socialist Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant have arisen as the pillars of the movement, because as in so many other social justice struggles, women will be the ones with the most to gain.

The gender pay gap in the U.S. is a full-blown crisis.  We rank 67th out of 133 countries in pay equity, just below Yemen (World Economic Forum, 2013). Over the course of a lifetime, women will actually need an extra degree in order to earn equal pay to men with a lower degree. This is especially bad news for the 53% of women graduates who are paying a much higher portion of their income towards student loan debt than any typical worker could afford, as opposed to 39% of men in the same situation (American Association of University Women, 2009).

The current wage structure, coupled with racial discrimination, keeps women of color particularly in perpetual poverty, with Black American women earning 64% and Latinas earning 55% of the wages of white men (U.S. Census Bureau, 2012).

The Seattle metropolitan area, where the fight for $15 is strongest, has the worst gender pay gap of any major metropolitan area in the country. Seattle women are paid only 73 cents for each  dollar that men earn for full-time work, which translates to a total loss for women of $7.9 billion every year. As a result, 23% of Seattle households where women are primary breadwinners fall below the poverty line (U.S. Census Bureau, 2012).

Women have a major stake in building the $15 minimum wage movement, not least becausewomen make up two-thirds of minimum wage workers (National Women’s Law Center, 2012). Women are also 60% of the primary or co-bread winners in their households (thinkprogress.org) and 70% of the restaurant servers that earn a tipped minimum wage of only $2.13/hr on average (Restaurant Opportunities Center United, 2012). So women especially have an interest in fighting for a minimum wage increase that has no tip penalties or other exemptions. (The Seattle mayor and most the city council are trying to include a tip penalty and multiple exemptions in the minimum wage ordinance, which Socialist Councilmember Sawant strongly disagrees with.)

A higher national minimum wage would significantly shrink the gender wage gap, and would benefit 13.1 million women. 8.9 million of women would receive a direct benefit; the other 4.2 million would benefit from what the Economic Policy Institute (2012) calls a “spillover effect,” where wages across the board are increased as the wage floor is lifted.

Unfortunately the implementation of a higher minimum wage is by no means guaranteed without a real fight, even after progressive legislation is enacted. One example is the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which most people don’t even know exists because equal pay still remains elusive 50 years after its passage. The Paycheck Fairness Act, meant to strengthen the 1963 legislation, has been twice introduced and twice rejected in Congress.

It has become glaringly clear in recent years that Congress is a place where working-class priorities are ignored. That’s why the minimum wage movement needs to be independent of the two corporate parties, and must be willing to demand more than just legislative reforms. This means pushing beyond the realm of what the owners of capital tell us is possible, because as long as the current global wage system continues, women will never see pay parity.

Just look at how public-sector jobs, which are mostly filled by women, were first to be gutted during the economic recession, and continue to disappear despite this “recovery” period. These middle-income jobs have been replaced by low-wage jobs in the private sector, such as in retail and service work, further emaciating the income base of women. This is a big reason why the gender pay gap has actually widened since the start of this so-called “recovery.”

In this crisis-prone system of capitalism, women and people of color will always be the first to suffer when the economy tanks, and jobs, wages, and social services are cut to protect profitability. And they will continue to suffer even after corporate profits have rebounded– unless we join together, organize unions, and demand a living wage through campaigns such as 15Now.org.

At the rate of current efforts to close the gender pay gap, it would be year 2056 before women earned as much as men (Institute for Women’s Policy Research, 2012). Now that it is a Congressional election year, Obama and the Democrats are talking about gradually raising the minimum wage to $10.10 over a few years.  In Seattle Mayor Murray and most the City Council claim they want to move toward $15, but not until 2017 (with many loopholes and exemptions). Any increase is a step in the right direction, but we need to demand $15 for all workers NOW.

We also need to rethink the viability of an economic structure that cannot provide a decent standard of living for the women that make up half of its population, to say the least. Something different is needed. On this International Women’s Day, women will find that their liberation is inextricably linked not only to the movement for higher wages but also the struggle against the capitalist system of wage-slavery itself.

We need to fundamentally change the structure of our society that allows a corporate elite to super-exploit women and workers of color – a system with a ruling elite that promotes sexism, racism, and homophobia to divide the working class. It is in the interest of women and oppressed groups to unite all workers – women and men, black, brown and white – to fight the capitalist elite who are exploiting and dividing all of us.

In order to guarantee equal pay for equal work and dignified work and pay for all, we need to take the top 500 corporations into public ownership. We need to establish a democratically planned socialist economy where corporations are run by councils of representatives who are paid the same as the average skilled worker – representatives who are elected by the workers and the wider public and subject to recall.

Source

Protest action erupts in Guggenheim Museum February 24, 2014
Last night, over 40 protesters staged an intervention inside the Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan during Saturday night’s pay-what-you-wish admission hours. Unfurling mylar banners, dropping leaflets, chanting words, handing out information to museum visitors, and drawing attention with the use of a baritone bugle, the group worked to highlight the labor conditions on Saadiyat Island in the United Arab Emirates, where Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, a franchise of New York’s Guggenheim, is being built.
Staged in the midst of the museum’s newly opened Italian Futurism exhibition, the intervention, a term used by some members of the group to describe the action, received both applause from visitors who seemed excited by the commotion and reactions of confusion from others unsure what was going on.
The intervention began at 6:45pm EST with a bugle call and a loud question: “Who is building the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi?” The whole action continued for roughly 20 minutes, during which time security guards appeared to react slowly to the protesters as hundreds of museum visitors captured images and video of the protests.
The participants, who were a diverse group of artists, professors, students, and activists loosely affiliated with Occupy Museums, Gulf Labor, and various NYU-related groups, timed their protest to take place during the pay-what-you-wish hours of the museum, which normally charges $22 admission for adults. When I asked organizers if they purposely chose their action to coincide with the Italian Futurism exhibition and the Carrie Mae Weems retrospective, they told me that they did not, but that they were delighted for the coincidence since Futurism sought to combine art and politics, while Weems is a champion of those who have been historically excluded from museums.
“This is a new phase of the campaign, we’re moving beyond talk to action, and bringing it home obviously to the Guggenheim,” said Andrew Ross, a NYU professor of sociology, who is involved in the Gulf Labor coalition and the NYU Fair Labor coalition. “There are so many more people involved in this action that were not involved in Gulf Labor until this point. We’re widening the circle of participation, and that will have an impact.”
Gulf Labor is a coalition of artists, academics, and activists who have worked for over a year to ensure that the labor conditions on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi, which will house Guggenheim- and Louvre-branded museums and a NYU-affiliated university, are not exploitative to workers. Many human rights organizations say that the workers who are brought to Saadiyat Island are victimized by the nation’s sponsorship system and face grueling and inhuman conditions on a daily basis.
During our brief conversation, Ross explained how their work raising awareness about workers’ debt, which translates to a type of indentured servitude for migrant workers, is connected to much bigger issues.
“We’re trying to make a connection with chains of debt that are transnational, and in the various locations we’re looking at, Bangladesh, Abu Dhabi, NYU, and the art world, there’s an enormous accumulation of debt in each of these places, and the money is getting extracted by the transnational creditor class,” Ross said. “And artists are more and more [in debt], and in order to practice art, you’re required to take on a big debt burden … so there’s a connection across many continents. Another art world is possible, one that’s more principled and ethical, and that looks out for the human and labor rights of all. Artists should not be asked to exhibit in museums that have been built on the back of abused workers … that’s what it boils down to. When you’re acquired by a museum that does that, that’s unfair. Your complicity is being bought along with the artwork.”
The idea of using art as a way to reimagine the world was at the heart of another participant’s passion for the issue. “Art, among other things, is about doing, living, and imagining a better world,” said artist Nitasha Dhillon of MTL Collective. “Art should not violate human rights, art should not endanger workers lives, and art should not create debt slaves. And definitely not be part of a system that creates debt bondage.”
She sees yesterday’s action as “a call for solidarity and a call for museums to do the right thing.” She added that “it’s important for museum goers to understand what kind of system they are participating in.”
Source

Protest action erupts in Guggenheim Museum 
February 24, 2014

Last night, over 40 protesters staged an intervention inside the Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan during Saturday night’s pay-what-you-wish admission hours. Unfurling mylar banners, dropping leaflets, chanting words, handing out information to museum visitors, and drawing attention with the use of a baritone bugle, the group worked to highlight the labor conditions on Saadiyat Island in the United Arab Emirates, where Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, a franchise of New York’s Guggenheim, is being built.

Staged in the midst of the museum’s newly opened Italian Futurism exhibition, the intervention, a term used by some members of the group to describe the action, received both applause from visitors who seemed excited by the commotion and reactions of confusion from others unsure what was going on.

The intervention began at 6:45pm EST with a bugle call and a loud question: “Who is building the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi?” The whole action continued for roughly 20 minutes, during which time security guards appeared to react slowly to the protesters as hundreds of museum visitors captured images and video of the protests.

The participants, who were a diverse group of artists, professors, students, and activists loosely affiliated with Occupy Museums, Gulf Labor, and various NYU-related groups, timed their protest to take place during the pay-what-you-wish hours of the museum, which normally charges $22 admission for adults. When I asked organizers if they purposely chose their action to coincide with the Italian Futurism exhibition and the Carrie Mae Weems retrospective, they told me that they did not, but that they were delighted for the coincidence since Futurism sought to combine art and politics, while Weems is a champion of those who have been historically excluded from museums.

“This is a new phase of the campaign, we’re moving beyond talk to action, and bringing it home obviously to the Guggenheim,” said Andrew Ross, a NYU professor of sociology, who is involved in the Gulf Labor coalition and the NYU Fair Labor coalition. “There are so many more people involved in this action that were not involved in Gulf Labor until this point. We’re widening the circle of participation, and that will have an impact.”

Gulf Labor is a coalition of artists, academics, and activists who have worked for over a year to ensure that the labor conditions on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi, which will house Guggenheim- and Louvre-branded museums and a NYU-affiliated university, are not exploitative to workers. Many human rights organizations say that the workers who are brought to Saadiyat Island are victimized by the nation’s sponsorship system and face grueling and inhuman conditions on a daily basis.

During our brief conversation, Ross explained how their work raising awareness about workers’ debt, which translates to a type of indentured servitude for migrant workers, is connected to much bigger issues.

“We’re trying to make a connection with chains of debt that are transnational, and in the various locations we’re looking at, Bangladesh, Abu Dhabi, NYU, and the art world, there’s an enormous accumulation of debt in each of these places, and the money is getting extracted by the transnational creditor class,” Ross said. “And artists are more and more [in debt], and in order to practice art, you’re required to take on a big debt burden … so there’s a connection across many continents. Another art world is possible, one that’s more principled and ethical, and that looks out for the human and labor rights of all. Artists should not be asked to exhibit in museums that have been built on the back of abused workers … that’s what it boils down to. When you’re acquired by a museum that does that, that’s unfair. Your complicity is being bought along with the artwork.”

The idea of using art as a way to reimagine the world was at the heart of another participant’s passion for the issue. “Art, among other things, is about doing, living, and imagining a better world,” said artist Nitasha Dhillon of MTL Collective. “Art should not violate human rights, art should not endanger workers lives, and art should not create debt slaves. And definitely not be part of a system that creates debt bondage.”

She sees yesterday’s action as “a call for solidarity and a call for museums to do the right thing.” She added that “it’s important for museum goers to understand what kind of system they are participating in.”

Source

Cambodia: Workers rights activists call for Jan. 26 mass protest despite ban on gatherings of 10 or moreJanuary 25, 2014
Cheang Thida (pictured above) is a young woman local union leader of the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions (CATU) at Kin Tai Factory in Phnom Penh. Last December she led 10,000 workers on a legal and peaceful strike demanding a minimum wage that satisfies the workers’ basic needs. As a consequence, she was sacked from her job making Armani Jeans.
By the beginning of January this year the strike had spread and was involving between 50,000 and 100,000 according to grassroots worker organisers. But their strike was crushed by a brutal military intervention on January 2-3 which resulted in the killing of at least four workers and serious injuries to many more. On January 4 a protest camp of the opposition CRNP was violently dispersed.
Twenty-three workers and activists detained in the crushing of are still in prison and are facing charges of intentional aggravated violence and intentional aggravated damage to property.
A Free The 23 campaign has been launched by trade unions and human rights groups. But when a small group of unionists and activists from the campaign tried to present copies of statements of protests to foreign embassies in Phnom Penh on January 21, 11 of them were detained.
Among the 11 detained (and released later that day) was Cheang Thida and Rong Chhun, a leader of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions (CCU) to which Thida’s union is affiliated. According to Joel Preston, an Australian working as a consultant with the Community Legal Education Center (CLEC) in Cambodia, they were targeted because they are leaders of the “the fiercest and most independent union confederation in the country”.
“Thida was instrumental in leading 10,000 workers on strike in a major garment district, Chak Angre Krom. As a result Mr Rong Chhun was summoned to court on January 14. Following this, Thida and Chhun were at the US Embassy with a group of other activists submitting a petition for the release of the detained workers when a car pulled up and police kidnapped the two from the crowd,” Preston told Green Left Weekly
“Chhun is a very public figure and those associated with CCU, CATU or CITA (The Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association) are also at risk.”
An attempt by the Free The 23 campaign to hold a small prayer meeting near the Royal Palace on the evening of January 19 was also broken up.
The Phnom Penh municipal government has imposed a ban on gatherings of 10 or more in the city and has enlisted private security guards to strictly enforce this ban. These security guards are dressed in blue uniforms and wear black-visor motorbike helmets (see photo right). They carry long batons and have been aggressive towards protesters.
A group of trade unions and human rights organisations have responded by calling a mass rally for January 26 at Freedom Park in Phnom Penh.
Malay Tim, the president of the Cambodian Youth Network, told GLW that the rally was called by nine trade union and associations: the he Cambodian Food and Service Workers Federation; Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association; the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions; the Cambodian Youth Network; the Cambodia’s Independent Civil-Servants Association; the Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Federation of Cambodia; the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia; the National Trade Union Coalition; and the Cambodia Independent Teachers Association.
“We hope to bring out about 10,000 people around three demands: 1. Free the 23 human rights defender and workers; 2. A minimum wage US$160 a month for workers in all sectors; 3. Stop the violence.”
Tim added that the government had refused a permit for the rally and warned that it will be dispersed however the people “had no alternative but to counter-attack with non-violent struggle for justice and a living wage.”
He rejected the ban on gatherings of 10 or more saying it contravened the Cambodian constitution which guarantees rule according to “principles of liberal democracy and pluralism” (Article 1).
Full article

Cambodia: Workers rights activists call for Jan. 26 mass protest despite ban on gatherings of 10 or more
January 25, 2014

Cheang Thida (pictured above) is a young woman local union leader of the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions (CATU) at Kin Tai Factory in Phnom Penh. Last December she led 10,000 workers on a legal and peaceful strike demanding a minimum wage that satisfies the workers’ basic needs. As a consequence, she was sacked from her job making Armani Jeans.

By the beginning of January this year the strike had spread and was involving between 50,000 and 100,000 according to grassroots worker organisers. But their strike was crushed by a brutal military intervention on January 2-3 which resulted in the killing of at least four workers and serious injuries to many more. On January 4 a protest camp of the opposition CRNP was violently dispersed.

Twenty-three workers and activists detained in the crushing of are still in prison and are facing charges of intentional aggravated violence and intentional aggravated damage to property.

A Free The 23 campaign has been launched by trade unions and human rights groups. But when a small group of unionists and activists from the campaign tried to present copies of statements of protests to foreign embassies in Phnom Penh on January 21, 11 of them were detained.

Among the 11 detained (and released later that day) was Cheang Thida and Rong Chhun, a leader of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions (CCU) to which Thida’s union is affiliated. According to Joel Preston, an Australian working as a consultant with the Community Legal Education Center (CLEC) in Cambodia, they were targeted because they are leaders of the “the fiercest and most independent union confederation in the country”.

“Thida was instrumental in leading 10,000 workers on strike in a major garment district, Chak Angre Krom. As a result Mr Rong Chhun was summoned to court on January 14. Following this, Thida and Chhun were at the US Embassy with a group of other activists submitting a petition for the release of the detained workers when a car pulled up and police kidnapped the two from the crowd,” Preston told Green Left Weekly

“Chhun is a very public figure and those associated with CCU, CATU or CITA (The Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association) are also at risk.”

An attempt by the Free The 23 campaign to hold a small prayer meeting near the Royal Palace on the evening of January 19 was also broken up.

The Phnom Penh municipal government has imposed a ban on gatherings of 10 or more in the city and has enlisted private security guards to strictly enforce this ban. These security guards are dressed in blue uniforms and wear black-visor motorbike helmets (see photo right). They carry long batons and have been aggressive towards protesters.

A group of trade unions and human rights organisations have responded by calling a mass rally for January 26 at Freedom Park in Phnom Penh.

Malay Tim, the president of the Cambodian Youth Network, told GLW that the rally was called by nine trade union and associations: the he Cambodian Food and Service Workers Federation; Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association; the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions; the Cambodian Youth Network; the Cambodia’s Independent Civil-Servants Association; the Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Federation of Cambodia; the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia; the National Trade Union Coalition; and the Cambodia Independent Teachers Association.

“We hope to bring out about 10,000 people around three demands: 1. Free the 23 human rights defender and workers; 2. A minimum wage US$160 a month for workers in all sectors; 3. Stop the violence.”

Tim added that the government had refused a permit for the rally and warned that it will be dispersed however the people “had no alternative but to counter-attack with non-violent struggle for justice and a living wage.”

He rejected the ban on gatherings of 10 or more saying it contravened the Cambodian constitution which guarantees rule according to “principles of liberal democracy and pluralism” (Article 1).

Full article

randycwhite

anarcho-queer:

U.S. Accuses Wal-Mart of Labor Violations & Anonymous Leaks Internal Anti-Union Documents

The National Labor Relations Board, an independent federal agency tasked with policing bad behavior by employers, is targeting Wal-Mart Stores Inc. over the retail behemoth’s alleged crackdown on its protesting workers.

The complaint, the largest ever against Walmart, refers to charges made in November 2012 during the Black Friday actions by associates speaking out for respect on the job, regular hours and a living wage of $25,000 a year. The complaint alleges Walmart illegally fired and disciplined nearly 70 workers in 34 stores in 14 states for rallying over workplace conditions.

The rallies spread to 100 cities. Nineteen employees were discharged from the company, allegedly as a reprimand for their involvement in the rallies, according to the NLRB.

Wal-Mart is accused of warning its employees of punishment in two news broadcasts televised nationally as well as in statements to Texas and California store employees.

The agency, echoing its November findings, also said that the retailer preemptively threatened, surveilled or lashed out at employees before expected labor activities in California, Florida, Missouri and Texas.

The case is set to go before an administrative law judge on an undetermined hearing date. Wal-Mart has until Jan. 28 to respond.

Making Change at Walmart reported in a press release:

If Walmart is found liable, workers could be awarded back pay, reinstatement and the reversal of disciplinary actions through the decision; and Walmart could be required to inform and educate all employees of their legally protected rights. While historic, the complaint alone is not enough to stop Walmart from violating the law. Since the start of the year, Walmart has continued to retaliate against workers who speak out for better jobs. 

In other news, the Internet group Anonymous leaked a set of Walmart PowerPoints (bottom photos) for managers that included ways to discourage workers from joining a union and how to identify “early warning signs.”

Kory Lundberg, a Walmart spokesman, confirmed the documents are Walmart’s and said they’ve been around for a while.

The PowerPoints also detailed legal ways an employer could discourage workers from organizing (click photo’s for caption).

NAFTA = Death: Artists mark NAFTA’s 20th anniversary with border protestJanuary 5, 2014

A group of artists marked the 20th anniversary of the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) on New Year’s Day with an art installation at the US-Mexico border that separates San Diego from Tijuana.
The installation, which involves 20 black flags - one for each year that NAFTA has been in effect - falls into a long tradition of actions and art pieces that protest US immigration and border policies.
The inauguration of NAFTA coincided with a dramatic increase in border patrol agents and the construction of a 600-mile border fence on the southern US border. As the artists point out on their website, free trade agreements like NAFTA allow capital to cross borders, but not people.
NAFTA intertwined the Canadian, Mexican and American economies, increasing inequality between the global North and South and adding incentives for migrants to enter the United States illegally. Since NAFTA was signed, the number of migrant deaths in the United States - Mexico borderlands has increased dramatically, and 463 migrants died in US borderlands in 2012 alone.
"The project is titled ‘A Future Memorial For NAFTA’ because it is meant both to reflect on the deaths that have occurred over the past 20 years, but also to create hope for the future death of NAFTA and other similar policies," the artists said in a statement.
"One thing that really inspired us to do this action was how normalized this policy has become and how the death at the border has become so normal in the way that we imagine immigration policy and homeland security," said Ian Alan Paul, one of the artists who worked on the protest installation. "We wanted to call attention to the large amounts of violence … that are a direct result of policies like NAFTA."
Critics say NAFTA has also had negative impacts on the working class in Mexico and the United States. Under NAFTA, the United States suffered a net loss of 700,000 jobs to Mexico, as manufacturers took advantage of Mexico’s cheap labor and lack of environmental and safety standards. Mexico’s manufacturing sector did receive a significant boost from NAFTA, but labor unions and human rights groups point out that fair labor standards have either eroded or were simply nonexistent in both countries during the past two decades.

Source

NAFTA = Death: Artists mark NAFTA’s 20th anniversary with border protest
January 5, 2014

A group of artists marked the 20th anniversary of the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) on New Year’s Day with an art installation at the US-Mexico border that separates San Diego from Tijuana.

The installation, which involves 20 black flags - one for each year that NAFTA has been in effect - falls into a long tradition of actions and art pieces that protest US immigration and border policies.

The inauguration of NAFTA coincided with a dramatic increase in border patrol agents and the construction of a 600-mile border fence on the southern US border. As the artists point out on their website, free trade agreements like NAFTA allow capital to cross borders, but not people.

NAFTA intertwined the Canadian, Mexican and American economies, increasing inequality between the global North and South and adding incentives for migrants to enter the United States illegally. Since NAFTA was signed, the number of migrant deaths in the United States - Mexico borderlands has increased dramatically, and 463 migrants died in US borderlands in 2012 alone.

"The project is titled ‘A Future Memorial For NAFTA’ because it is meant both to reflect on the deaths that have occurred over the past 20 years, but also to create hope for the future death of NAFTA and other similar policies," the artists said in a statement.

"One thing that really inspired us to do this action was how normalized this policy has become and how the death at the border has become so normal in the way that we imagine immigration policy and homeland security," said Ian Alan Paul, one of the artists who worked on the protest installation. "We wanted to call attention to the large amounts of violence … that are a direct result of policies like NAFTA."

Critics say NAFTA has also had negative impacts on the working class in Mexico and the United States. Under NAFTA, the United States suffered a net loss of 700,000 jobs to Mexico, as manufacturers took advantage of Mexico’s cheap labor and lack of environmental and safety standards. Mexico’s manufacturing sector did receive a significant boost from NAFTA, but labor unions and human rights groups point out that fair labor standards have either eroded or were simply nonexistent in both countries during the past two decades.

Source

Japan’s homeless recruited for murky Fukushima clean-upJanuary 3, 2014
Seiji Sasa hits the train station in this northern Japanese city before dawn most mornings to prowl for homeless men.
He isn’t a social worker. He’s a recruiter. The men in Sendai Station are potential laborers that Sasa can dispatch to contractors in Japan’s nuclear disaster zone for a bounty of $100 a head.
"This is how labor recruiters like me come in every day," Sasa says, as he strides past men sleeping on cardboard and clutching at their coats against the early winter cold.
It’s also how Japan finds people willing to accept minimum wage for one of the most undesirable jobs in the industrialized world: working on the $35 billion, taxpayer-funded effort to clean up radioactive fallout across an area of northern Japan larger than Hong Kong.
Almost three years ago, a massive earthquake and tsunami leveled villages across Japan’s northeast coast and set off multiple meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear plant. Today, the most ambitious radiation clean-up ever attempted is running behind schedule. The effort is being dogged by both a lack of oversight and a shortage of workers, according to a Reuters analysis of contracts and interviews with dozens of those involved.
In January, October and November, Japanese gangsters were arrested on charges of infiltrating construction giant Obayashi Corp’s network of decontamination subcontractors and illegally sending workers to the government-funded project.
In the October case, homeless men were rounded up at Sendai’s train station by Sasa, then put to work clearing radioactive soil and debris in Fukushima City for less than minimum wage, according to police and accounts of those involved. The men reported up through a chain of three other companies to Obayashi, Japan’s second-largest construction company.
Obayashi, which is one of more than 20 major contractors involved in government-funded radiation removal projects, has not been accused of any wrongdoing. But the spate of arrests has shown that members of Japan’s three largest criminal syndicates - Yamaguchi-gumi, Sumiyoshi-kai and Inagawa-kai - had set up black-market recruiting agencies under Obayashi.

"We are taking it very seriously that these incidents keep happening one after another," said Junichi Ichikawa, a spokesman for Obayashi. He said the company tightened its scrutiny of its lower-tier subcontractors in order to shut out gangsters, known as the yakuza. "There were elements of what we had been doing that did not go far enough."
Full article

Japan’s homeless recruited for murky Fukushima clean-up
January 3, 2014

Seiji Sasa hits the train station in this northern Japanese city before dawn most mornings to prowl for homeless men.

He isn’t a social worker. He’s a recruiter. The men in Sendai Station are potential laborers that Sasa can dispatch to contractors in Japan’s nuclear disaster zone for a bounty of $100 a head.

"This is how labor recruiters like me come in every day," Sasa says, as he strides past men sleeping on cardboard and clutching at their coats against the early winter cold.

It’s also how Japan finds people willing to accept minimum wage for one of the most undesirable jobs in the industrialized world: working on the $35 billion, taxpayer-funded effort to clean up radioactive fallout across an area of northern Japan larger than Hong Kong.

Almost three years ago, a massive earthquake and tsunami leveled villages across Japan’s northeast coast and set off multiple meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear plant. Today, the most ambitious radiation clean-up ever attempted is running behind schedule. The effort is being dogged by both a lack of oversight and a shortage of workers, according to a Reuters analysis of contracts and interviews with dozens of those involved.

In January, October and November, Japanese gangsters were arrested on charges of infiltrating construction giant Obayashi Corp’s network of decontamination subcontractors and illegally sending workers to the government-funded project.

In the October case, homeless men were rounded up at Sendai’s train station by Sasa, then put to work clearing radioactive soil and debris in Fukushima City for less than minimum wage, according to police and accounts of those involved. The men reported up through a chain of three other companies to Obayashi, Japan’s second-largest construction company.

Obayashi, which is one of more than 20 major contractors involved in government-funded radiation removal projects, has not been accused of any wrongdoing. But the spate of arrests has shown that members of Japan’s three largest criminal syndicates - Yamaguchi-gumi, Sumiyoshi-kai and Inagawa-kai - had set up black-market recruiting agencies under Obayashi.

"We are taking it very seriously that these incidents keep happening one after another," said Junichi Ichikawa, a spokesman for Obayashi. He said the company tightened its scrutiny of its lower-tier subcontractors in order to shut out gangsters, known as the yakuza. "There were elements of what we had been doing that did not go far enough."

Full article

Bangladesh factory owners charged over deadly fireDecember 22, 2013
Bangladesh police charged the two owners of the Tazreen Fashions factory and 11 employees with culpable homicide Sunday over the nation’s deadliest-ever garment factory fire, which killed 112 workers last year.
It was the first time Bangladeshi authorities had sought to prosecute factory owners. A series of recent deadly disasters — including the fire on Nov. 24, 2012, and a factory collapse in April that killed more than 1,100 workers — exposed how harsh and unsafe conditions can be for many of the country’s 4 million workers providing clothing to major Western retailers.
Public Prosecutor Anwarul Kabir Babul said the 13 people charged Sunday could face life in prison if convicted of failing to ensure safety at the sprawling Tazreen Fashions Ltd. factory, located outside Dhaka, the capital.
But a union leader reacted angrily to the charges, saying they were too lenient, and predicted that the cases would drag on for years.
"The owners were directly responsible for the murder of more than 100 workers. Yet they are not charged with murder," Babul Akter, head of the Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation, told news agency Agence France-Presse.
"The charges they’ve been accused of are bailable and will be hard to prove. The case will drag on for years in lower and higher courts and will eventually lead to lighter sentences or no conviction at all."
The factory, which produced clothing for global brands including Walmart, had no emergency fire exits, while its location in a narrow alley meant firefighters were unable to reach the flames, Babul said.
Those charged include owners Delwar Hossain and his wife, Mahmuda Akter, as well as 11 factory managers, security guards and engineers, Babul said. A court will decide on Dec. 31 whether to accept the charges and allow a trial to proceed.
"The managers and security guards misguided the workers by saying that it was nothing but a part of a regular fire drill when the blaze broke out," Babul said. "So the workers went back to work after the fire alarm went off, but they got trapped as the mangers locked the gates."
Victims of the factory fire, mostly women who were paid as little as $37 a month, found themselves overcome by smoke or were forced to jump from windows on upper floors.
Bangladesh is the world’s second-largest garment manufacturer after China and earns more than $20 billion a year from exports, mainly to the United States and Europe.
Source

Bangladesh factory owners charged over deadly fire
December 22, 2013

Bangladesh police charged the two owners of the Tazreen Fashions factory and 11 employees with culpable homicide Sunday over the nation’s deadliest-ever garment factory fire, which killed 112 workers last year.

It was the first time Bangladeshi authorities had sought to prosecute factory owners. A series of recent deadly disasters — including the fire on Nov. 24, 2012, and a factory collapse in April that killed more than 1,100 workers — exposed how harsh and unsafe conditions can be for many of the country’s 4 million workers providing clothing to major Western retailers.

Public Prosecutor Anwarul Kabir Babul said the 13 people charged Sunday could face life in prison if convicted of failing to ensure safety at the sprawling Tazreen Fashions Ltd. factory, located outside Dhaka, the capital.

But a union leader reacted angrily to the charges, saying they were too lenient, and predicted that the cases would drag on for years.

"The owners were directly responsible for the murder of more than 100 workers. Yet they are not charged with murder," Babul Akter, head of the Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation, told news agency Agence France-Presse.

"The charges they’ve been accused of are bailable and will be hard to prove. The case will drag on for years in lower and higher courts and will eventually lead to lighter sentences or no conviction at all."

The factory, which produced clothing for global brands including Walmart, had no emergency fire exits, while its location in a narrow alley meant firefighters were unable to reach the flames, Babul said.

Those charged include owners Delwar Hossain and his wife, Mahmuda Akter, as well as 11 factory managers, security guards and engineers, Babul said. A court will decide on Dec. 31 whether to accept the charges and allow a trial to proceed.

"The managers and security guards misguided the workers by saying that it was nothing but a part of a regular fire drill when the blaze broke out," Babul said. "So the workers went back to work after the fire alarm went off, but they got trapped as the mangers locked the gates."

Victims of the factory fire, mostly women who were paid as little as $37 a month, found themselves overcome by smoke or were forced to jump from windows on upper floors.

Bangladesh is the world’s second-largest garment manufacturer after China and earns more than $20 billion a year from exports, mainly to the United States and Europe.

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kropotkitten

reclaimingthelatinatag:

Luisa Capetillo (October 28, 1879 – October 10, 1922) was one of Puerto Rico’s most famous labor organizers. She was also a writer and anarchist who fought for workers and women’s rights.

During a farm workers’ strike in 1905, Capetillo wrote propaganda and organized the workers in the strike. She quickly became a leader of the “FLT” (American Federation of Labor) and traveled throughout Puerto Rico educating and organizing women. Her hometown, Arecibo, became the most unionized area of the country.

In 1908, during the “FLT” convention, Capetillo asked the union to approve a policy for women’s suffrage. She insisted that all women should have the same right to vote as men. Capetillo is considered to be one of Puerto Rico’s first suffragists.

In 1912, Capetillo traveled to New York City, where she organized Cuban and Puerto Rican tobacco workers. Later on, she went to Tampa, Florida, where she also organized the workers. In Florida, she published the second edition of “Mi Opinión”. She also traveled to Cuba and the Dominican Republic, where she joined the striking workers in their cause.

In 1919, she challenged the mainstream society by becoming the first woman in Puerto Rico to wear pants in public. Capetillo was sent to jail for what was then considered to be a “crime”, but, the judge later dropped the charges against her. In that same year, along with other labor activists, she helped pass a minimum-wage law in the Puerto Rican Legislature.

fuckyeahmarxismleninism
fuckyeahmarxismleninism:

Durham, North Carolina: “Fast food workers repeat 1957 march to segregated lunch counter at Royal Ice Cream, which was site of the first sit-in during Civil Rights movement. Now fast food workers carry the torch and struggle for justice on the job! Burger King worker Willetta Dukes speaks to crowd.”
 #fastfoodforward #dec5strike#organizethesouth
Photo and report by Dante Strobino

Today, fast food workers went on strike to demand a living wage in more than 100 cities across the country. 

fuckyeahmarxismleninism:

Durham, North Carolina: “Fast food workers repeat 1957 march to segregated lunch counter at Royal Ice Cream, which was site of the first sit-in during Civil Rights movement. Now fast food workers carry the torch and struggle for justice on the job! Burger King worker Willetta Dukes speaks to crowd.”

 #fastfoodforward #dec5strike#organizethesouth

Photo and report by Dante Strobino

Today, fast food workers went on strike to demand a living wage in more than 100 cities across the country. 

OUR Walmart announces 1,500 Black Friday protests across the country 
November 27, 2013

Walmart workers and community allies today announced plans leading up to and on Black Friday, saying 1500 protests are scheduled for across the country, in what is set to be one of the largest mobilizations of working families in American history. Workers are calling for an end to illegal retaliation, and for Walmart to publicly commit to improving labor standards, such as providing workers with more full time work and $25,000 a year. As the country’s largest retailer and employer, Walmart makes more than $17 billion in profits, with the wealth of the Walton family totaling over $144.7 billion – equal to that of 42% of Americans.

“Black Friday 2013 will mark a turning point in American history,” said Dorian Warren, associate professor at Columbia University. “Fifteen hundred protests against Walmart is unprecedented. Working families are fighting back like never before – and have the support of America behind them.

Emboldened by news from Walmart CEO Bill Simon that as many as 825,000 workers are paid less than $25,000 a year, workers and supporters are calling for better jobs nationwide. Major protests are planned in more than a dozen metropolitan cities, including Los Angeles, Chicago, Bay Area, Seattle, Sacramento, Miami, Minneapolis and Washington, DC.

The announcement follows revelations this week that many Walmart workers don’t have enough money to cover Thanksgiving dinner for their families. A photo from a Canton, Ohio store set the internet abuzz Monday, with workers,customers and commentators pointing to a food drive set up for Walmart’s own employees as proof that the retailer pays its workers poverty wages.

“Walmart’s right that associates do stick together and look out for each other. We have to because Walmart and the Waltons seem to be fine with the financial struggles that we’re all facing,” said Barbara Gertz, a five-year Walmart employee from Colorado. “We’re are all in the same situation, one that Walmart creates by paying us poverty wages that aren’t enough to cover holiday meals. We don’t want handouts; we want an employer that pays us enough to afford Thanksgiving dinner – and dinner every night of the year.”

Workers and community supporters have been inspired by actions across the country in recent weeks. In Los Angeles, workers went on a two-day strike that culminated in the largest-ever act of civil disobedience against Walmart, and last week, workers in SeattleChicagoOhio and Dallas joined them in walking off their jobs.

The strikes, which call for an end to illegal retaliation at Walmart, come as the federal labor board this week issued a decision to prosecute Walmart for widespread violations of its workers’ rights. The decision will provide additional protection for Walmart’s 1.3 million employees when they are speaking out for better jobs. The Board will prosecute Walmart’s illegal firings and disciplinary actions involving more than 117 workers, including those who went on strike last June.

With the Labor Relations Board moves forward to seek a settlement that could include the reinstatement of fired workers, a group of Walmart employees who were illegally retaliated against are traveling to Bentonville, Arkansas to call on Walmart CEO Bill Simon to reinstate them immediately. Early Fridaymorning, November 22, the fired workers will visit Home Office to urge Walmart to live up to the anti-retaliation policy it professes to follow.

“I’m traveling to Bentonville with other workers who were wrongfully fired because Walmart needs to hear from us directly: we want our jobs back, and we want you to put the anti-retaliation policy you talk about into practice,” said Jeanna Slate, a fired striker, mother and grandmother from rural Texas who is traveling to Bentonville. “Walmart makes $17 billion dollars in profits while the majority of its workers make less than $25,000 a year. Walmart can do better.”

Walmart workers have escalated their online organizing and community outreach ahead of Black Friday 2013, allowing customers and community members to join the fight for $25,000 and an end to illegal retaliation. Chicago worker Charmaine Givens-Thomas launched an online petition asking President Obama to meet with Walmart workers, which currently has more than 100,000 signers; individuals can sponsor a Walmart striker online; and a new online portal,www.associatevoices.com, allows associates to step forward and request Black Friday protests at their stores. Just weeks since the launch, the number of cities that have requested a Black Friday rally is well ahead of the number at this point in 2012.

Full article

Bangladesh factories agree to pay rise, but protests go onNovember 15, 2013
Bangladeshi garment factory owners said on Thursday they had agreed to a proposed 77 percent rise in the minimum wage, but police used teargas and rubber bullets to break up new protests by stone-throwing workers calling for a bigger increase.
Bangladesh’s official wage board had proposed the rise to $68 a month as the minimum wage, up from $38, after a string of fatal factory accidents this year thrust poor pay and conditions into the international spotlight.
The factory owners agreed to the proposal at a meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday night after several days of violent protests by workers.
"We have agreed to the new wages after the prime minister assured us she would look into our problems," said Mohammad Atiqul Islam, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers’ and Exporters’ Association.
He said the new wage, to be officially approved by the wage board, would be effective from next month.
"In the greater interest of our garment sector, we agreed to it. But many small factories cannot afford the rise," Islam told Reuters.
Workers demanding a $100 a month took to the streets, blocking major roads and attacking factories in the Ashulia industrial belt, on the outskirts of the capital, Dhaka.
Police used water cannon, fired rubber bullets and lobbed teargas to disperse the stone-throwing demonstrators, witnesses said. More than 50 people, including police, were wounded.
"We will continue protesting until we realize our demand," a protester said.
STILL LOWEST
Violent protests over the pay rise have forced the closure of more than 100 factories this week. About 200 were shut on Thursday.
Labour Minister Rajiuddin Ahmed Raju urged workers to go back to work. He said continuing unrest could threaten livelihoods and warned of action against trouble-makers.
"We are working to ensure decent pay for garment workers," he told reporters after a meeting trade unions. "Culprits who are trying to destroy the industry won’t be spared."
The new wage would still be the lowest for garment workers in the world, said Khandaker Golam Moazzem, a research director at the Centre for Policy Dialogue think-tank.
The protests have coincided with violent anti-government protests and strikes led by the main opposition party demanding next year’s elections take place under a non-partisan government.
The impasse between the ruling party and opposition over election rules is a fresh threat to Bangladesh’s $22 billion garment export industry, the economic lifeblood of the impoverished country of 160 million, employing about 4 million people, most of them women.
The garment industry, which supplies many Western brands such as Wal-Mart, JC Penney and H&M, has already been under the spotlight after the accidents, including the collapse of a building housing factories in April that killed more than 1,130 people.

Rock-bottom wages and trade deals with Western countries have helped make Bangladesh the world’s second-largest apparel exporter after China, with 60 percent of its clothes going to Europe and 23 percent to the United States.
Source

Bangladesh factories agree to pay rise, but protests go on
November 15, 2013

Bangladeshi garment factory owners said on Thursday they had agreed to a proposed 77 percent rise in the minimum wage, but police used teargas and rubber bullets to break up new protests by stone-throwing workers calling for a bigger increase.

Bangladesh’s official wage board had proposed the rise to $68 a month as the minimum wage, up from $38, after a string of fatal factory accidents this year thrust poor pay and conditions into the international spotlight.

The factory owners agreed to the proposal at a meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday night after several days of violent protests by workers.

"We have agreed to the new wages after the prime minister assured us she would look into our problems," said Mohammad Atiqul Islam, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers’ and Exporters’ Association.

He said the new wage, to be officially approved by the wage board, would be effective from next month.

"In the greater interest of our garment sector, we agreed to it. But many small factories cannot afford the rise," Islam told Reuters.

Workers demanding a $100 a month took to the streets, blocking major roads and attacking factories in the Ashulia industrial belt, on the outskirts of the capital, Dhaka.

Police used water cannon, fired rubber bullets and lobbed teargas to disperse the stone-throwing demonstrators, witnesses said. More than 50 people, including police, were wounded.

"We will continue protesting until we realize our demand," a protester said.

STILL LOWEST

Violent protests over the pay rise have forced the closure of more than 100 factories this week. About 200 were shut on Thursday.

Labour Minister Rajiuddin Ahmed Raju urged workers to go back to work. He said continuing unrest could threaten livelihoods and warned of action against trouble-makers.

"We are working to ensure decent pay for garment workers," he told reporters after a meeting trade unions. "Culprits who are trying to destroy the industry won’t be spared."

The new wage would still be the lowest for garment workers in the world, said Khandaker Golam Moazzem, a research director at the Centre for Policy Dialogue think-tank.

The protests have coincided with violent anti-government protests and strikes led by the main opposition party demanding next year’s elections take place under a non-partisan government.

The impasse between the ruling party and opposition over election rules is a fresh threat to Bangladesh’s $22 billion garment export industry, the economic lifeblood of the impoverished country of 160 million, employing about 4 million people, most of them women.

The garment industry, which supplies many Western brands such as Wal-Mart, JC Penney and H&M, has already been under the spotlight after the accidents, including the collapse of a building housing factories in April that killed more than 1,130 people.

Rock-bottom wages and trade deals with Western countries have helped make Bangladesh the world’s second-largest apparel exporter after China, with 60 percent of its clothes going to Europe and 23 percent to the United States.

Source

Protest by Bangladeshi garment workers shutters 100 factoriesNovember 12, 2013
Thousands of Bangladeshi workers demanding a higher minimum wage on Monday hurled rocks and sticks at clothing factories and clashed with police who used rubber bullets and tear gas against them, bringing fresh scrutiny to working conditions in the country’s garment industry.
The garment workers’ demonstrations forced the closure of more than 100 factories in the Ashulia industrial belt on the outskirts of the capital Dhaka, which accounts for nearly 20 percent of total garment exports.
At least 30 people were reported wounded in the clash with police.
The South Asian nation has seen three weeks of bloody political protests, and the demonstrations by garment workers only added to the chaos.
Bangladesh’s official wage board proposed a 77 percent rise in the minimum wage for garment workers last week, up to the equivalent of $66.25 per month, after a string of fatal factory accidents this year thrust poor pay and conditions into the international spotlight.
But even with a raise, at $38, Bangladesh still has the lowest minimum wage in the world, which is about half that of rival Asian exporters Vietnam and Cambodia and just over a quarter of the rate in China, according to data from the International Labor Organization.
Bangladeshi workers have rejected the proposal, demanding $100 a month instead.
But factory owners said they could not afford 77 percent, and that it would increase their production cost significantly and destroy the industry in a fiercely competitive global market.
The Ministry of Labor would still have to approve the proposed amount to make it a law.
Bangladesh’s garment industry has come under scrutiny for its often harsh and unsafe conditions after the collapse of a factory building killed more than 1,100 people in April. In another horrific case, a fire last November killed 112 workers.
As the world’s second-largest garment manufacturing country after China, Bangladesh earns more than $20 billion a year from garment exports, mainly to the United States and Europe, an industry that serves as an economic lifeblood to the impoverished country of 160 million people. The sector employs about 4 million workers, mostly women.
Garment factory staff went on strike over wages for six days in September, hitting production at almost 20 percent of the country’s 3,200 factories. The strikes followed similar protests over the summer.
The new protest coincided with a four-day nationwide strike led by the main opposition party demanding next year’s election take place under a non-partisan government.
Source

Protest by Bangladeshi garment workers shutters 100 factories
November 12, 2013

Thousands of Bangladeshi workers demanding a higher minimum wage on Monday hurled rocks and sticks at clothing factories and clashed with police who used rubber bullets and tear gas against them, bringing fresh scrutiny to working conditions in the country’s garment industry.

The garment workers’ demonstrations forced the closure of more than 100 factories in the Ashulia industrial belt on the outskirts of the capital Dhaka, which accounts for nearly 20 percent of total garment exports.

At least 30 people were reported wounded in the clash with police.

The South Asian nation has seen three weeks of bloody political protests, and the demonstrations by garment workers only added to the chaos.

Bangladesh’s official wage board proposed a 77 percent rise in the minimum wage for garment workers last week, up to the equivalent of $66.25 per month, after a string of fatal factory accidents this year thrust poor pay and conditions into the international spotlight.

But even with a raise, at $38, Bangladesh still has the lowest minimum wage in the world, which is about half that of rival Asian exporters Vietnam and Cambodia and just over a quarter of the rate in China, according to data from the International Labor Organization.

Bangladeshi workers have rejected the proposal, demanding $100 a month instead.

But factory owners said they could not afford 77 percent, and that it would increase their production cost significantly and destroy the industry in a fiercely competitive global market.

The Ministry of Labor would still have to approve the proposed amount to make it a law.

Bangladesh’s garment industry has come under scrutiny for its often harsh and unsafe conditions after the collapse of a factory building killed more than 1,100 people in April. In another horrific case, a fire last November killed 112 workers.

As the world’s second-largest garment manufacturing country after China, Bangladesh earns more than $20 billion a year from garment exports, mainly to the United States and Europe, an industry that serves as an economic lifeblood to the impoverished country of 160 million people. The sector employs about 4 million workers, mostly women.

Garment factory staff went on strike over wages for six days in September, hitting production at almost 20 percent of the country’s 3,200 factories. The strikes followed similar protests over the summer.

The new protest coincided with a four-day nationwide strike led by the main opposition party demanding next year’s election take place under a non-partisan government.

Source

Madrid trash collectors protest against layoffs
November 4, 2013

Trash collectors in Madrid have started bonfires and set off firecrackers during a noisy protest in one of the Spanish capital’s main squares as they prepare to start an open-ended strike.

Hundreds of street cleaners and garbage collectors who work in the city’s public parks converged on the Puerta del Sol plaza late Monday.

They were due to walk off the job at midnight in a strike called by trade unions to contest the planned layoff of more than 1,000 workers.

Madrid’s municipal cleaning companies, which have service supply contracts with the city authorities, employ some 6,000 staff.

The labor groups want the city council to intervene and halt the job cuts.

Source

Protesters outside Daily Mail offices condemn ‘campaign of hatred’
October 8, 2013

Protesters have gathered outside the offices of the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday to voice their opposition to what they described as “grotesque acts of journalism” by both titles in their ongoing spat with the Labor leader, Ed Miliband.

Around 200 trade unionists and leftwing campaigners joined Muslim leaders for the demonstration outside the newspapers’ London headquarters.

"The message is clear," said the journalist and campaigner Owen Jones, addressing the crowd. "Enough is enough: stop your campaign of hatred."

Jones said the newspapers had waged a vicious campaign demonizing large sections of society, from public sector workers to women and trade union members.

"We are speaking up for decency … this is a show of cheerful defiance by all the people who have been picked on by the Daily Mail."

The protest follows an increasingly bitter feud between Miliband and the Mail that was sparked when the paper claimed in an article last weekend that the Labor leader’s late father, the academic Ralph Miliband, “hated Britain”. The Labor leader was given the right of reply but the paper also reprinted most of the original accusations.

Relations between Miliband and the newspaper group hit a new low when it emerged that a Mail on Sunday reporter had intruded on a private memorial service for a relative of the Labor leader.

John Rees, a protester from Hackney, north London, said the papers’ treatment of Miliband had been disgraceful. But he said the protest was also about wider issues.

"The Daily Mail has an agenda which wants to decry and diminish anyone who stands up for the NHS, trade unions or minorities. It is a pernicious influence on the political environment of this country."

The Mail on Sunday editor, Geordie Greig, apologized for the intrusion at the memorial service after Miliband wrote to the proprietor, Lord Rothermere, asking whether the common line of decency had been breached by the reporter gatecrashing the service for his uncle on Wednesday. The Daily Mail has not apologized for the article claiming Miliband’s father, a respected academic, hated Britain.

Source