Different types of tyres for tractors (or othe...

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Bridgestone is a Japanese company which acquired the North American Firestone company in 1988 (Confusingly, both names are still in use).

The company produces rubber, principally for car tyres.

They came under fire for ‘failing to monitor’ their own child labour policies in Liberian plantations. It was documented that children work on the plantations. They came along with their parents because, depending on who you ask, the production targets are so high that an individual could not meet them.

In contrast to many of the stories I’ve posted to date, this one has a happy ending!

The issue bubbled away for a decade. A lawsuit was filed for the workers in the USA under the Alien Tort Claims Act all the way back in 2005. Local union representatives were elected in 2007 and the company began to negotiate with the Firestone Agricultural Workers Union of Liberia (FAWUL) in 2008.

The case was a good example of the principle of subsidiarity, that matters are best resolved at the level closest to which they occur. The more removed a lobbyist or activist is from the ‘coalface’, the more likely they are to recommend a deficient solution because they are unaware of subtleties of the situation.

Accordingly, a campaign was coordinated by the International Labor Rights Fund (ILRF) whereby FAWUL was left to negotiate a resolution on behalf of the Liberian workers and ILRF and its partners in the USA maintained consumer pressure on the company through its ‘Stop Firestone‘ campaign.

FAWUL and Bridgestone have recently concluded their second-generation collective bargaining agreement which has increased their salaries and benefits and – critically – lowered production quotas, reducing the pressure that allegedly led to the children being brought in to assist.

*Update (21 August 2011):
  • New video about the second generation collective agreement, which introduced more humane working conditions.
  1. […] campaigns directed at single companies have seen improvements at Ocean Sky, a footwear maker, Bridgestone, Nestlé and […]

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