Tim Newman, Campaigns Assistant, International Labor Rights Forum
Today is International Human Rights Day and human rights advocates around the world are celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The UDHR states in Article 23:
- Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favorable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
- Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
- Everyone who works has the right to just and favorable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
- Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.
Despite the fact that the UDHR as well as ILO conventions, national laws and other legislation protects the right of workers to join unions, workers around the world continuously see this right ignored. Many companies use a range of tactics from spreading anti-union propaganda among workers, to firing labor rights advocates and hiring strike-breakers, to shutting down workplaces that try to unionize, to using threats or actual violence to avoid workers realizing their right to join unions. In fact, the International Trade Union Confederation reports that 91 union members were murdered in 2007.
Today, ILRF released a list of 5 multinational corporations that violate the right of their workers to organize. Keep reading for details and click here to send a quick e-mail to these companies!
ILRF's list of companies is titled "Working for Scrooge: 5 Worst Companies for the Freedom of Association." The companies that made this year's list include:
A trusted family-brand in the U.S., Nestlé’s true impact overseas involves a long history of union intimidation and ties to murders of trade unionists.
Considering its operations in the two most dangerous countries for trade unionists, it is no surprise that Dole has been accused of illegal measures to prevent union formation.
Similar to Dole, Del Monte’s production in Latin America has been tied to severe intimidation as well as the deaths of several union leaders.
Russell/Fruit of the Loom
As recently as over a month ago, the announced closure of a Russell/Fruit of the Loom factory marks another unlawful attempt to scare off union members.
Throughout the United States and Canada to the Philippines and Cambodia, Wal-mart’s violations against union organization span the globe.
While this year we highlighted these five companies, it is unforunate that there are plenty more out there engaged in similar misbehavior. Check out ILRF intern Meaghan Fortune's blog post yesterday which talked about some other companies that didn't make the list this time.
As you can see, the list spans a range of different kinds of companies with rights violations in many different countries. It is important to note that the right to organize is routinely violated both in the Global South and in industrialized countries like the U.S. The AFL-CIO NOW blog has a great post about the right to organize in the U.S. and globally which highlights the importance of the Employee Free Choice Act in the U.S. context. This bill would help workers to exercise their right to form a union and strengthen penalties against companies that intimidate employees trying to join unions.
ILRF will continue to work to protect the right of workers to organize -- especially those working for these five companies and in countries where violence against trade unions is especially prevalent like Colombia, the Philippines, Guatemala, Zimbabwe, Guinea and others. Check out our End Violence Against Trade Unions campaign here.
So what are YOU doing to commemorate International Human Rights Day? What do you think of our company list? Who did we miss and who should be on it next year?