Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

An exciting day in Geneva yesterday, as the International Labour Congress concluded. The door has been opened to a future convention making lead firms accountable for cross-border supply chains, something that has bedevilled labour activists for 30 years.

Employers objected on the grounds that existing regulations should resolve this if implemented. Yes they would, but they aren’t being implemented. We could wait forever for that. The ITUC tabled a report pointing out that core labour protections are ignored in more than half of the world’s countries, including the two most populous ones, and in some cases are worsening (something I pointed out last year). It makes more sense to craft a convention aimed at countries that are likely to implement it rather than countries that won’t.


There is also the purist labour objection that distant regulation takes away the local impetus to implement those very standards that allow people to freely associate and form unions (which I unpack here). The risk is that you substitute one form of powerlessness with another. Personally I think it’s okay and maybe even necessary to apply pressure at more than one level. Having a top-down solution does not prevent the development of bottom-up solutions. The alternative is to choose inaction so that the local garment or electronics workforce eventually rises up of its own accord. Well they have been doing that and facing fierce resistance. Also the consequences of inaction are not trifling: disastrous safety and health neglect like the Rana Plaza collapse and invisible but far more widespread problems like silicosis.

I asked the ILO’s Better Work team for their thoughts on this during their Facebook Live chat; you can see their response here (starting at 21’35”):

A binding resolution is still some way off but yesterday may mark a turning point in the history of industrial relations: acknowledgment at the highest level that employment-like responsibility should be attributed up the supply chain. Corporate Social Responsibility has failed to address these problems. The executives sitting in the headquarters of Apple and Samsung should be shifting uneasily in their seats.

ILO’s Storify Blog of the Congress highlights


Stop Samsung - No More Deaths!



Hankyoreh21, a weekly magazine of South Korea, analyzed the compensation standards that Samsung had proposed in the mediation process to address workers’ death and health problems. 

According to Hankyoreh21’s analysis, only 14 people (8.5%) of the 163 victims absolutely met Samsung’s compensation standards. If a variety of provisory clauses that Samsung presented is applied, 107 people (65.7%) are automatically excluded from compensation. 

We translated the article into English under the consent of Hankyoreh21. You can read the full version of translation below, and the original article in Korean can be read at here.

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Center For Workers Education

International Capital Mobility, Global value chains and the Emerging Labour Movement in Asia

Download PDF

Book on Emerging Trends in Factory Asia

In the last three decades, there has been a sea change in the global political economy and the socio-economic and cultural environment of the society as well as the physical environment. The world of labour has been decisively changed, not for the better, but for the worse. This was accompanied by the downfall of many labour movements as well as social, cultural and political movements. As the socio-political and economic structures that existed up to the late 1970s and early 1980s gradually changed and were then decisively transformed in 1990s, the socio-cultural and political movements of that period were also marginalised and later were largely made irrelevant. With the restructuring of economies and industries and in this overall anti-labour environment, trade unions were by and large paralysed and…

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Listen Girlfriends!

Designer Kahindo Mateene is producing a line of clutches using scraps from her line of apparel, Modahnik. Designer Kahindo Mateene is producing a line of clutches upcycling scraps from her line of apparel, Modahnik.

When designer Kahindo Mateene came to the United States at the tender age of seventeen to attend college, her classmates couldn’t stop asking where she got her clothes. A native of the Democratic Republic of Congo who had also lived and traveled extensively in Africa, Europe, and North America, the global nomad was a little taken aback by the attention she received for her vibrant, multi-cultural hand-made designs. After studying fashion at the Illinois Institute of Art in Chicago, Kahindo was finally able to pursue her dream of creating a line that would fuse her African heritage with western design sensibilities. In 2009 she launched Modahnik, a sophisticated, sexy couture collection that features bright colors and bold prints for the every-day, modern woman. Besides earning her respect in the fashion industry…

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Posted: November 28, 2012 in Uncategorized

The Third People’s Tribunal into garment industry wages delivered its verdict in Bangalore, India on Sunday. This post contains a link to the full verdict.

Asia Floor Wage

Download full verdict document here

The verdict of a tribunal to assess human rights abuses faced by workers in the Indian garment industry was announced today in Bangalore.

Judges found overwhelming evidence of ‘grave and systematic violations of individual and collective human rights’ suffered by garment workers and called for immediate action to be taken by a variety of stakeholders.

The verdict follows a two day hearing in which over 250 garment workers from Gurgaon, Tirupur and Bangalore gathered to give evidence pointing to the fact that a living wage and decent working conditions are a pressing necessity in the industry.

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Posted: September 18, 2012 in Uncategorized

Many countries have multiple peak union bodies: the USA has two and Japan and Indonesia each have three. The benefit is that these organisations are more united internally but the downside is that, unless they speak together, the message can appear muddled and confused. This May Day, Indonesia’s confederations all managed to speak as one, calling for an end to outsourcing, universal social security, higher wages, protection of the right to organise and recognition of domestic workers. Good stuff!


Three Indonesian union confederations, KSPI (Confederation of Indonesia Trade Unions), KSBSI (Confederation of Prosperous Indonesia Labor Unions) and KSPSI (Confederation of All Indonesia Trade Unions) along with their affiliates poured into the main street of Jakarta to celebrate May Day Rally amid a strict security from police and security force. The rally started from Hotel Indonesia Boulevard (Bundaran HI) to Constitution Court (Mahkamah Konstitusi – MK) and finally the mass gathered and held a stage in front of Presidential Palace. The event continued with labour big meeting (Rapat Akbar Buruh) at Gelora Bung Karno with participation of about 100,000 labours.

On the event, the three confederations formed an unprecedented “Majelis Pekerja Buruh Indonesia” (Indonesia Workers-Labours Council). The council establishment should be an important point for labour unity and inspiration for reformation of united labour movement in Indonesia. 

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