Blog: Migrant Labor

Worker Voice Without Worker Agency Fails Seafood Workers

“Worker voice” is the current buzzword among corporate social responsibility professionals seeking to end labor exploitation in the seafood industry, yet the original meaning of worker voice – in which workers form associations to collectively bargain for better conditions on an equal footing with employers – is nowhere to be found.

How President Trump is Fueling Honduran Migration North

Today, Juan Orlando Hernandez takes the oath of office as President of Honduras with the full support of President Trump – despite overwhelming evidence of election irregularities and allegations of fraud in last November’s presidential election in Honduras. This past week, Hondurans young and old took to the streets in a nationwide strike to denounce their stolen democracy, determined to liberate their country from what they call a de-facto dictatorship. Hernandez’s National Party came to power in a 2009 military coup d’état and continues its violent reign today, supported and funded by the United States. 

The highs and lows of the 2017 TIP Report

Last week, the U.S. Department of State delivered its annual Trafficking in Persons report. Though the report is much anticipated each year by anti-trafficking advocates, this year drew extra attention as the first report released by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in the Trump administration, and in the wake of two straight years of allegations that political considerations had weighted some country rankings.

There is much in this report for which the State Department should be commended, in particular:

TPP Ignores Workers' Needs and Fails to Address Weaknesses from Past Trade Agreements

The text of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) finally became accessible to workers and the public last week, though insiders from more than 500 major companies have had access to the negotiation and writing process for years. The result predictably values the rights of corporations over the needs of workers and fails to address the most glaring weakness of past trade deals: the utter failure of the parties to uphold their commitments to respect workers' rights.

Obama Administration grants unwarranted TIP Upgrades

The State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP Report) is a potent annual assessment of governments’ efforts to combat human trafficking that subjects the worst offenders to sanctions. At its best, it provides human rights organizations, unions, and others committed to the fight against human trafficking with a tool to hold governments accountable for their efforts to prevent this egregious crime, protect its victims and prosecute the offenders. It is designed to be a balanced standard against which all governments, including the United States, can be judged on their progress on this one issue of vital importance to humankind. The 2015 TIP Report released Monday fell far short of those expectations.

From Slavery to Debt-Bondage: Big Tobacco’s Addiction to Cheap Labor

I was in North Carolina last week, marching through the streets of Winston-Salem with the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) to demand collective bargaining rights for farmworkers who harvest tobacco. As these workers shared their stories about unjust conditions in the fields and sub-poverty earnings, I was struck by the similarities between tobacco industry exploitation in my own country and what our partners in Malawi, the Center for Social Concern (CSC) and Tobacco and Allied Workers Union of Malawi (TOAWUM), are fighting against.

Respect, not restraints, for workers in Thailand's seafood industry

Workers in cages – that’s what reporters from the Associated Press found during a year-long investigation into forced labor in the global seafood supply chain. The workers were Burmese nationals, trafficked onto Thai-run fishing vessels working for an Indonesian firm in Indonesian waters, underlining the complex, global nature of the problem. While the cries of help the AP documented from these trapped workers has shaken the industry and led to renewed calls for action, their voices are rarely included in the solutions. All too often efforts to “reform” the industry leave them as vulnerable as ever.

Advocate for migrant workers in Thailand under threat

ILRF is concerned about the most recent charges brought against labor rights activist Andy Hall by the Natural Fruit Company. Hall now faces four defamation charges (both civil and criminal) and two charges under the Computer Crimes Act. Natural Fruit is a Thai export company producing pineapple juice and dried fruit. The NGO Finnwatch has published two reports documenting poor labor conditions in the Natural Fruit factory, including child labor, failure to pay overtime, confiscation of migrant workers’ passports, and conditions that amount to human trafficking.

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