Consumer Goods & Textiles
As many as 3,500 Bangladeshi workers are reported to have been suspended or fired for taking part in protests against sweatshop wages at garment factories on the outskirts of Dhaka over the last six weeks. Dozens have been thrown in jail amid a major police crackdown on the organizers.
A new report on garment factories in Burma issued by Action Labor Rights (ALR) estimates that nearly a third of workers were required to work 60 hours or more a week, with almost two thirds reporting that they had no choice in the matter.
A decision by the Indian government to allow foreign multinationals to invest in the country's $500 billion retail market is expected to spell the death knell for thousands of small, family-owned shops and even threatens street hawkers, who have supplied local neighborhoods for generations.
H&M (Hennes & Mauritz), a major Swedish "fast fashion" retailer, led 30 international companies this week to commit to a new $3 billion fund to improve the safety of garment factories in Bangladesh. Watchdog organizations say the companies acted only because of external pressure by activists and workers.
Some 2,000 German employees of Amazon, the internet retail giant, walked off their jobs this week at four sites - Bad Hersfeld, Graben, Leipzig and Rheinberg. The strike action was coordinated by Vereinte Dienstleistungsgewerkschaft (United Services Union), a Berlin trade union commonly known as Ver.di.
Seven activists in Guangdong province, a key manufacturing hub in China, have been detained in a major crackdown on labor rights organizers. The arrests follow a steep rise in protests and strikes at factories that have long exploited migrant workers from rural areas with low pay and working conditions.
Glencore corporation, the secretive Swiss commodities giant which has become one of the world's biggest trader of grain, oil and minerals, has hit an unlikely roadblock. The Bolivian government nationalized the Colquiri tin and zinc mine, the third Glencore asset to be seized by the state in five years.
For nearly six years Ramatex Textile and Garment Factory barred government regulators from entering industrial premises leased from the City of Windhoek. Ramatex came to Namibia in 2001, lured by the newly implemented African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). Evidence of environmental violations finally emerged after the company absconded.
Multinationals like Benetton have tried to distance themselves from Rana Plaza, a Bangladeshi building housing five clothing factories, that collapsed last week killing over 400. Activists argue that change will only come when workers get more political support to challenge them.
Some 40,000 workers in seven Yue Yuen shoe factories in Dongguan city, China, went on strike last month to successfully demand that their employer make pension payments required under the law.