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Migrant Workers 'Shouldn't Have to Be Tortured to Have Work'

Migrant Workers 'Shouldn't Have to Be Tortured to Have Work'

Three times each month, dozens of women gather in dusty courtyards in rural towns in Manikganj, Dinazpur or other districts across Bangladesh to learn all they can about the only means by which they can support their families: migrating to another country for work.

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Respecting Labor Rights Must Be Part of Building a Lasting Peace in Colombia

Respecting Labor Rights Must Be Part of Building a Lasting Peace in Colombia

With unions from the Americas and Europe, the AFL-CIO is participating in the 6th Congress of the Central Union of Workers (CUT) Colombia, the country’s largest labor federation, from Sept. 23–26. The congress takes place as Colombia moves forward with a negotiation and peace-building process to end a 50-year conflict that has killed more than 170,000 civilians. The armed conflict has been used by the government for decades to systematically deny basic labor and human rights. More than 3,000 trade unionists were murdered by paramilitary, government and armed guerilla forces for exercising fundamental labor rights since 1987. In spite of strong recent economic growth, Colombia continues to have the third highest social inequality in Latin America after the much poorer countries of Haiti and Honduras. Any sustainable solution to this long-term crisis must include respect for workers’ rights and shared prosperity. 

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Swaziland: Textile Workers Sickened from a Dangerous Chemical

Swaziland: Textile Workers Sickened from a Dangerous Chemical

Workers continue to be sickened at a Swazi textile factory where dozens of workers required hospitalization earlier this month after the plant began using the dangerous chemical butyl acetate to clean clothing stains. The workers, who went to the hospital at their own expense, reported chest pains, severe headaches, vomiting and bleeding, and some collapsed.

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More Than 100 Workers, Environmentalists and Activists Came Out to Tell Oceana Gold/Pacific Rim That El Salvador Is Not for Sale

Last week, more than 100 people gathered outside the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), which is housed in the World Bank in Washington, D.C. Inside, three individuals sat down to decide whether or not the government of El Salvador will be forced to hand over $300 million to a mining corporation for prioritizing community needs and clean water over a gold mine.

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U.S. Government Takes Historic Action to Enforce Labor Rules in Trade Agreement with Guatemala

U.S. Government Takes Historic Action to Enforce Labor Rules in Trade Agreement with Guatemala

Today, for the first time ever, the U.S. government announced that it will begin the formal consultations that are used to resolve trade disputes in the area of labor rights enforcement. The United States Trade Representative (USTR) announced that it will finally move forward to arbitration in the long-running dispute with the government of Guatemala regarding whether or not Guatemala is meeting the labor commitments of the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA or CAFTA). In announcing the decision, the USTR stated that the goal is to improve conditions that workers face every day.   

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Stand in Solidarity with Cambodian Garment Workers on Today’s Global Day of Action

Cambodian garment workers sewing products for companies such as H&M, Gap, Adidas, Zara and Puma make $100 a month and suffer through long hours in harsh working conditions. Their labor supports a $5 billion industry, but their demands for a living wage have only been answered with violence. When workers and their unions held protests late last year to demand a living wage increase, police killed five workers and imprisoned another 25 union activists on criminal charges that have not been dismissed.

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How the Government Can Lead on Supporting Businesses that Lift Working Standards

How the Government Can Lead on Supporting Businesses that Lift Working Standards

Through our tax dollars used in government purchasing, U.S. taxpayers are collectively the largest buyer of goods in services in the world. Being that big gives us power. And it gives us responsibility to hold the government accountable for how it spends those dollars. However, our government does very little to ensure that our tax dollars are spent responsibly, whether it’s through buying uniforms, electronics or food from businesses that support decent conditions in the thousands of workplaces in the United States and around the world. 

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New Trade Deal—TISA—Could Undermine Safety, Environmental, Workers’ Rights Regs

New Trade Deal—TISA—Could Undermine Safety, Environmental, Workers’ Rights Regs

The United States is currently negotiating a new International Services Agreement called the Trade in Services Agreement, or TISA. At the start of 2012, a number of World Trade Organization (WTO) member states, including the European Union, formed a group called the “Really Good Friends of Services” or RGF (and yes, that is really what they named themselves), with the purpose of drafting a trade agreement that would further liberalize trade and investment in services and expand regulatory disciplines on services sectors.

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Mexican Union Leader Napoleón Gómez Urrutia Wins Historic Legal Appeal

The federal judiciary of Mexico extended protection late last week to the embattled leader of the National Union of Mine, Metal, Steel and Allied Workers (Los Mineros), Napoleón Gómez Urrutia. In what will go down as a historic victory for the Mexican labor movement, the three judges of the circuit court unanimously declared the arrest warrants against Gómez unconstitutional, siding with Gómez’s legal defense team that the charges were without merit and politically motivated. This ruling will allow Gómez to return to Mexico in absolute freedom, as the Mexican government must now cancel extradition requests pending in Canada and with Interpol.

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As Summit Concludes, U.S. and African Unions Pledge Partnership, Push Pro-Worker Policies

As Summit Concludes, U.S. and African Unions Pledge Partnership, Push Pro-Worker Policies

Last week African trade union leaders from across the continent converged on Washington, D.C., to push U.S. and African leaders to focus on decent work, worker rights and job creation during the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. They challenged the growing “Africa Rising" narrative, which mainly focuses on macro-level economic growth, trade opportunities and growing consumer markets for international corporations, and sought to refocus the debate on policy changes that would improve the lives of working families.

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