The Bangladesh Cabinet approved a change to the nation’s labor laws that it says would enable workers to more freely form unions. The proposal, which must be approved by Parliament, would allow workers to join unions without showing the list of union supporters to factory owners to verify their employment—a practice that effectively makes it impossible for unions to gather sufficient support to register with the government because factory owners often penalize or fire workers who support unionization.
Rana Plaza, the Bangladesh factory that collapsed three weeks ago, killed more than 1,100 workers, many of them young women. This tragedy adds to the more than 1,500 Bangladeshi workers killed in preventable fires and building collapses since 2005. Documents found at the factory show that the workers produced for big names in global retail, revealing the link between poor workers in Bangladesh and major retail brands. Obviously, the government must improve local laws and their enforcement to stop these tragedies, but brands also must take responsibility for their supply chains. They must be held accountable to the tragedy that happened in their supply chain.
Last year, local Bangladeshi and international unions and workers’ rights groups negotiated an agreement to stop these deaths and help Bangladesh’s garment workers claim their rights. Two brands signed the agreement; the other major brands must sign on now!
A stunning 73.4 million young workers are estimated to be jobless in 2013, an increase of 3.5 million between 2007 and 2013, according to an International Labor Organization (ILO) report released Wednesday. Even worse, the number of unemployed young workers is likely to increase through 2018, with the long-term impact felt for decades, the report forecasts.
In 2008, with the global financial crisis at its peak and the world teetering on the brink of a second Great Depression, world leaders and policymakers took decisive fiscal and monetary policy actions that bolstered our economies and stopped our financial system from spiraling into chaos and dragging our economies into depression.
But today, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told the “Trans-Atlantic Agenda for Shared Prosperity” economic summit:
Our work is far from done, and no progress has been easy. We have had to battle those who wanted to block the fiscal stimulus, which was so critical for halting our economic slide. And we are still battling those same opponents who now want to impose strict fiscal austerity that threatens to sabotage our economy and trigger a new recession, as those same policies have in Europe.
When you hear anyone from the big multinationals or Wall Street using the word “reform,” watch out! The way they use the word, it means give them more and We, the People, get less. They want to “reform” Social Security, “reform” Medicare and “reform” the income tax code. And now they want to “reform” the taxes corporations pay on money made outside the United States. It’s like “reforming” an oak tree with an ax.
The spirit of Mother Jones came home this month to Cork, Ireland. A festival honoring the Irish-American labor heroine that included the unveiling of a plaque in her honor highlighted her continuing relevance to the global project of social justice. For more on the Cork festival, see http://motherjones175.wordpress.com.
Many economists and policymakers say the drop in unionization rates is an inevitable consequence of the changing global economy and advancing technology. But a new report finds that national politics plays a bigger role than globalization or technology in the decline in unionization in the United States and the 20 other nations studied
As world leaders head to France for the the G-20 economic summit in Cannes, labor leaders from around the globe will gather nearby to represent the needs of the world’s workers. Among their demands is a Robin Hood tax on banks and financial institutions that would exact a nano-percentage of each financial transaction to the tune of 0.5 percent. (See video.) That’s one half of 1 percent on every bond or derivative traded, stocks sold and a host of other “financial instruments” bought and sold by the very institutions bailed out by the world’s taxpayers.
From California to Capitol Hill to Cannes, France, on Nov. 3 nurses from National Nurses United (NNU) and other union members and community activists will call on the leaders of the world’s top economies—known as the G-20—to adopt a small Robin Hood tax (financial speculation tax) to create jobs.