Commentary Archive

COVID-19 – time for governments, brands and employers to protect supply chain and precarious workers from hardship and infection

March 13, 2020

By Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the ITUC & Phil Bloomer, Executive Director of Business & Human Rights Resource Centre – Steps should be taken to protect workers and business, write Sharan Burrow and Phil Bloomer. As the economic and human rights impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak come into view, we are again seeing supply…

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Combatting Forced Labor and Enforcing Workers’ Rights Using the Tariff Act

February 26, 2020

By the International Labor Rights Forum – The U.S. has one of the most powerful tools for preventing the import of goods made by forced labor: the Tariff Act. Yet, Section 307 of the Tariff Act is rarely enforced. In its new report released today – “Combatting Forced Labor and Enforcing Workers’ Rights Using the…

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Challenging the Status Quo: Helping Workers Protect their Associational Rights in Myanmar

January 15, 2020

Freedom of association is a fundamental and critical right allowing workers to collectively demand better working conditions. Yet factory management around the world often deny workers this right, illegally terminating union leaders, and sometimes employing violence to quell union organizing. Buyers at the top of the supply chain generally fail to detect such violations or…

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Women workers rallying for their rights in Bangladesh. Photo Credit: Musfiq Tajwar, Solidarity Center.

Despite progress gender-based violence and harassment is still a reality for global garment workers

December 13, 2019

By Rola Abimourched – Today marks the end of this year’s “16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence” campaign. Since its inception in the 1990s, feminist organisations, activists, and courageous individuals have tirelessly foregrounded women’s experiences of violence in their homes, communities, and workplaces. Beyond raising awareness, organisations and individuals have used these sixteen days…

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Line of Kahoindah workers in line

Largest Sum Ever: WRC recovers US$4.5 Million in unpaid severance

December 4, 2019

In the fall of 2019, two thousand Indonesian workers received what the WRC believes to be the largest amount workers have won in a single case of illegally denied severance. On July 2, 2018, the management of PT Kahoindah Citragarment (Kahoindah), an Indonesian garment factory owned by the Korean firm Hojeon LLC, had announced that…

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When ‘business as usual’ costs lives: workers in Pakistan call for a binding safety agreement

November 14, 2019

By Christie Miedema and Liana Foxvog – In Karachi, Pakistan, 11 September 2012 is ingrained into people’s minds as the day on which over 250 people did not return home to their families after a long day of work. A fire in the Ali Enterprises garment factory had spread rapidly, fed by the bales of finished product…

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Lesotho garment workers struck landmark deals to tackle gender-based violence. Here’s how it happened.

September 13, 2019

By Rola Abimourched, Libakiso Matlho, Thusoana Ntlama & Robin Runge – Gender-based violence and harassment, including sexual harassment in the world of work, are among the most pervasive human rights violations and most effective tools at preventing gender equality. Female garment workers—who are the majority of the global garment workforce—are systematically targeted and experience the…

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Landmark Agreements to Combat Gender-based Violence and Harassment in Lesotho’s Garment Industry

August 19, 2019

Last Thursday marked the announcement of a set of landmark agreements among leading apparel brands, a coalition of labor unions and women’s rights advocates, and a major apparel supplier to combat gender-based violence and harassment in Lesotho’s garment sector. These enforceable agreements—with Levi Strauss & Co., The Children’s Place, and Kontoor Brands—link the each of…

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Photograph of workers protesting

“Organized theft on a massive scale”: the reality of severance theft in Indonesia

June 26, 2019

Abruptly and without warning, the Indonesian garment company Jaba Garmindo shut down operations at its two factories in April of 2015, leaving over 4,000 workers without their legally mandated severance. The sudden departure reflects a consistent trend within garment factories around the globe; in response to intense market pressure to cut production costs, many factories…

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Photograph of workers at Alta Gracia

The False Promise of Corporate Living Wage Commitments

June 1, 2019

In the face of mounting pressure from workers, unions, and civil society organizations who have documented widespread labor exploitation in global supply chains, apparel brands have adopted ambitious public commitments to provide living wages to the workers sewing their clothes. But according to a new study by researchers at the University of Sheffield, the world’s…

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