Tim Newman, Campaigns Director, International Labor Rights Forum
Today is International Human Rights Day! People around the world are celebrating and taking action today to protect the rights outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Among other protections for workers, the UDHR states that “everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests” (Article 23, Section 4).
However, despite the labor rights protections in the UDHR, UN and ILO declarations and national labor laws, workers continue to see their rights trampled on a daily basis. In fact, in its most recently released survey of violations of trade union rights, the International Trade Union Confederation reports at least 76 unionists were killed globally as a result of their organizing efforts in 2008. Additionally, as the global economic crisis spreads, many labor advocates fear that companies are using the crisis as a pretext for cracking down on unionized workers and instituting employment schemes that reduce the number of workers guaranteed union protections.
Many times it is multinational corporations -- many of which are based here in the US -- that are violating workers' right to organize globally. That is why ILRF released a new report today called "Working for Scrooge: Worst Companies of 2009 for the Right to Associate." The report lists four companies and you can tell them to start protecting worker rights by sending an e-mail here!
Our report this year highlights Dole (with violations in Cameroon, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador and the Philippines), Kohl's (with violations in Nicaragua and Turkey), Kraft (with violations in Argentina, China, Honduras and the United Kingdom) and Nestlé (with violations in Colombia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia and Tunisia).
While workers face significant barriers globally to realizing their rights to organize trade unions, workers around the world are successfully fighting back against abuse. For example, Russell was named on last year's "Working For Scrooge" list for shutting down a unionized factory in Honduras, but after Honduran workers organized an international campaign with the support of labor advocates in the US, the union was successful in pressuring Russell to meet its demands leading to a major victory for workers and the global anti-sweatshop movement.
You can read the report online here and send an e-mail to these companies here. We're also encouraging everyone to Tweet for human rights today to spread the word about the report and let the companies know that they need to protect workers' rights! Find out how to participate here. Or just post this on your Twitter page: "4 scrooges announced for violating #humanrights. Email @nestlecsv, @dolefoods, @kohls_official, @kraftfoods at http://tinyurl.com/ybzwosg