Tag Archives | workers’ rights

Nearly 1,000 Workers Have Already Died Building Qatar’s World Cup Infastructure

qatarOur global sporting championship has a higher blood toll than the Hunger Games. Via the Smithsonian:

In 2022, Qatar will host the World Cup. Since 2012, about 900 workers have died while working on infrastructure in Qatar, in a building boom anticipating the World Cup.

A report by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) says that if conditions don’t get any better, by the time the World Cup kicks off, at least 4,000 migrant workers will have died on the job. For comparison, only six workers have died during construction for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil that starts this summer.

Workers described forced labour in 50C (122F) heat, employers who retain salaries for several months and passports making it impossible for them to leave and being denied free drinking water. The investigation found sickness is endemic among workers living in overcrowded and insanitary conditions and hunger has been reported.

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Conservatives Plan 2014 Assault on Education, Healthcare, Workers’ Comp and Environment

474px-human-brain_257Jon Queally writes at Common Dreams:

According to internal documents obtained by the British newspaper and published online Thursday, the Guardian reports that more than forty state-level conservative groups are planning a “US-wide assault” on “education, healthcare, income tax, workers’ compensation and the environment.”

If you want to know how the right-wing State Policy Network—in concert with a network of other national and state-level conservative policy groups—has been able to overrun state legislatures with “model legislation” that carries the interest of the nation’s wealthiest corporations and individuals while undermining workers and communities, the ream of grant proposals obtained by the newspaper tell the tale.

For the second time this week, the Guardian has published internal documents from an influential U.S. conservative organizing group that reveals rare insight into how they operate and the way smaller, local groups vie for portions of the large amount of money made available by people like the Kochs brothers and other funders of the conservative, Tea Party cabal.

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Amazon Uses Neo-Nazi Guards To Control Immigrant Workers In Its German Warehouses

Has fascism been privatized? The Independent writes:

Amazon is at the center of a deepening scandal in Germany as the online shopping giant faced claims that it employed security guards with neo-Nazi connections to intimidate its foreign workers.

Germany’s ARD television channel made the allegations about Amazon’s treatment of more than 5,000 temporary staff from across Europe working at its German packing and distribution centers. ARD’s film showed omnipresent guards from a company named HESS Security wearing black uniforms and boots with military haircuts. They were employed to keep order at hostels and budget hotels where foreign workers stayed. “Many of the workers are afraid,” the program-makers said.

ARD said Amazon’s temporary staff worked eight-hour shifts packing goods at the company’s logistics centers in Bad Hersfeld, Konstanz and Augsburg. Many walked up to 17 kilometers per shift and all those taken on could be fired at will. On arrival in Germany, most were told their pay had been cut to below the rate promised when they applied for jobs at Amazon.

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From Greenwashing to Workerwashing

Picture: Rion (CC)

You don’t need health benefits and time off, you need a burger and a cola!  David Sirota writes at Creators.com.

Big Industrial Ag pretends to go organic. PC behemoths mimic Apple products. Barack Obama goes to the right of the Republicans on civil liberties. Mitt Romney suddenly portrays himself as a left-leaning moderate on immigration. It seems no matter the arena, the most cliched move in corporate and political combat is to co-opt an opponent’s message, expecting nobody to notice or care.

But as inured as we are to this banality, it’s still shocking to see Corporate America transform the message of organized labor into a sales pitch for … Corporate America. Yes, according to The New York Times last month, that’s what’s happening, as new ads are “tapping into a sense of frustration among workers to sell products.”

One spot for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (read: the casinos) shows a woman climbing onto her desk to demand a vacation.

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Two Million Indonesian Factory Workers Go On Strike

Indonesia's factories ground to a halt on as millions of workers walked out of their jobs, calling for an increased minimum wage and more workers' rights and protections, Al Jazeera reported early yesterday:
It is estimated that some two million factory workers will go on strike nationwide on Wednesday. Al Jazeera's Stepp Vaessen reported from the scene of a strike. "I'm at the biggest industrial zone outside of Jakarta where 800 factories are basically closed down right now because all the workers are standing outside on the streets with banners and motorbikes going around," she said on Wednesday. They are protesting against their working conditions and over the work contacts that they have. They say they don't have any job security and no stability," she said. The workers [are also] protesting against the practice of outsourcing manpower. The Jakarta Globe newspaper reported on its website that the unions were expecting some 2.8 million people to go on strike in 21 districts and municipalities and 80 industrial zones across the country.
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Riot Police Arrest Walmart Warehouse Workers On Strike Against Abysmal Working Conditions

Via Buzzfeed, activist Daneyvilla took an snapped photos as a veritable army of riot police cracked down on a demonstration by several hundred completely peaceful, largely middle-aged Walmart warehouse employees. From the workers’ website, the reason for the strike:

No one should come to work and endure extreme temperatures, inhale dust and chemical residue, and lift thousands of boxes weighing up to 250lbs with no support. Workers never know how long the work day will be- sometimes its two hours, sometimes its 16 hours. Injuries are common, as is discrimination against women and illegal retaliation against workers who speak up for better treatment.

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Worker Unrest Grows Ever Stronger In China

Via Jacobin, Eli Friedman on low-wage Chinese workers fighting the machine:

Chinese workers are facing the same brutal competitive pressures as workers in the West, often at the hands of the same capitalists. Today, the Chinese working class is fighting.

China is undeniably the epicenter of global labor unrest. While there are no official statistics, it is certain that thousands, if not tens of thousands, of strikes take place each year. All of them are wildcat strikes – there is no such thing as a legal strike in China. So on a typical day anywhere from half a dozen to several dozen strikes are likely taking place.

More importantly, workers are winning, with many strikers capturing large wage increases above and beyond any legal requirements. Worker resistance has been a serious problem for the Chinese state and capital and, as in the United States in the 1930s, the central government has found itself forced to pass a raft of labor legislation.

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