Tag Archives | Workers
Vast numbers of workers who sew the clothing of many of America’s biggest brands didn’t get the memo that they are supposed to be grateful for 12 cents an hour in awful conditions. Al Jazeera America writes:
Garment factory workers in Bangladesh protested for the third day in a row Monday, calling on their government to raise the minimum wage from about $38 dollars per month to $100. Garment workers often labor up to 80 hours per week.
The protests forced the shutdown of hundreds of factories in the industrial Gazipur neighborhood near the capital, Dhaka, where factory owners and government officials called for workers to return to work.
Western corporations that rely on Bangladeshi labor to make much of the clothing sold in their stores — including Walmart, Gap and H&M — appeared reluctant to comment publicly on the protests.
Abdul Baten, police chief of the Gazipur industrial district, told AFP that “up to 200,000 workers” had joined the latest demonstrations.
moneyed elites *ahem* engines of the economy are finally seeing success in Michigan, as a union-busting law effecting millions of workers is passed, kneecapping the fund-raising for union organizations by dividing workers against each other (Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks has a very thorough and accurate rundown). This is a boon to the “burden shifting” robber baron industrialists, as union membership in Michigan was finally starting to rise again, after a steady decline since 2007.
Contrary to all the paid advertising, several myths persist about how unions work. Nobody is ‘forced’ to pay union membership in Michigan. The law states they are only required to do so when the union provides a service such as contract negotiation and representation, but the new law would allow anyone to receive those services without contributing into the workers’ collective funds. Once again, the “Right to Work” has been misleadingly named and propagandized, and has also convinced some conservative workers that their hard-won unions are taking their dues and using them for some leftist political agenda.… Read the rest
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.
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.
Rounding out the the post-Labor-Day work week, here is Target’s informational video educating new employees on the dangers of unionization. The confusing logic seems to be, unions are unnecessary both because they are ineffective (they are just after your dues money), and they accompished so much in the past (ending child labor, et cetera) that all of workers’ problems have already been fixed:
New Target employees are forced to watch this video so that they are indoctrinated into fearing unions. If you’re a Target employee, please don’t be deceived by your bosses. Target Corporation made over 2.9 billion dollars last year. You deserve better wages, benefits, and working conditions, and your employer can afford to give them to you.
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.
The New York Times reports:
For months, they have sat here, half a block from the prime minister’s palace in the Green Zone, essentially captives with little food, drinking water or electricity.
Humble laborers, they had come to Baghdad in January from Eastern Europe and Asia seeking better wages.
They had the important sounding assignment of building a dozen villas to house heads of state for the annual meeting of the Arab League, which was scheduled to take place here.
But the project was halted in April for reasons that are unclear, and a month later, as the Arab Spring rolled on, the Arab League meeting was postponed until next year.
Now the workers — 27 Ukrainians (including a woman), 7 Bulgarians and 1 Nepalese — are marooned here, living in one of the world’s hottest and most inhospitable cities in an abandoned building next to the construction site and lacking the documents they need to leave the country.