Maquiladora Health & Safety Support Network Newsletter
October 30, 2005
P.O. Box 124, Berkeley, CA 94701-0124
The "Maquiladora Health & Safety Support Network" is a volunteer network of 400 occupational health and safety professionals who have placed their names on a resource list to provide information, technical assistance and on-site instruction regarding workplace hazards in the 3,000 "maquiladora" (foreign-owned assembly) plants along the U.S.-Mexico border. Network members, including industrial hygienists, toxicologists, epidemiologists, occupational physicians and nurses, and health educators among others, are donating their time and expertise to create safer and healthier working conditions for the one million maquiladora workers employed by primarily U.S.-owned transnational corporations along Mexico's northern border from Matamoros to Tijuana.
Since 2000, the Network has expanded its work to include projects in Indonesia, China and Central America. Our goal has always been to build the capacity of workers and their organizations to understand occupational health and safety issues and to be able to speak and act in their own name to protect their health and to exercise their rights. Our activities have included providing information and trainings to plant-wide health and safety committees, and to community, human rights and professional associations; technical assistance to workers filing complaints under international trade agreements; and technical information for grassroots organizations monitoring the performance of transnational corporations and government health and safety agencies in the global economy.
The Support Network is not designed to generate, nor is it intended to create, business opportunities for private consultants or other for-profit enterprises. On the contrary, Network participants will be donating their time and knowledge pro bono to workers, community organizations and professional associations.
The Maquiladora Health & Safety Support Network was launched in October 1993 at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association (APHA). It includes occupational health specialists from Canada, Mexico and the United States who are active in the APHA, American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), American Conference of Government Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) and the 20-plus local grassroots Committees for Occupational Safety and Health (COSH) groups in the U.S. and Canada.
The Support Network is continuously seeking more health and safety professionals and activists to join the network, as well as looking for more worker and community organizations who can make use of the information and technical assistance offered. Please join us!
LETTER FROM THE COORDINATOR Garrett Brown October 2005
One of the original motivations and concerns of our Network was the anticipated impact of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) on workplace safety and health when it went into effect in January 1994. One of our accomplishments has been the 12-year effort to track and document the adverse impact of NAFTA on all three signatory countries. Our efforts have been focused on how to assist Mexican workers better understand the hazards they face on the job, what they should demand of their Mexican and U.S. corporate employers, and how to exercise their rights under both Mexican law and the NAFTA "labor side agreement."
Our detailed, thoroughly researched reports on NAFTA's failure to protect Mexican workers on the job posted on our website are the fruits of this decade's worth of work. We are now looking another key task for the Network doing the same for Central America.
We began to export this work to Central America even before the U.S. approval of the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) in late July. CAFTA has yet to be implemented the U.S. government has to further twist the arms of two balking countries in the region to give their approval before it goes into effect but CAFTA means more of the same for workers and farmers in Central America, despite all the lying, sales propaganda for the treaty.
Farmers in Central America are even more vulnerable than Mexican farmers to massive imports of subsidized agricultural products from the U.S. and more will be driven off their lands. Small businesses in Central America are weaker than Mexico's were, and more susceptible to crushing competition from U.S. transnationals and their low-wage producers in global supply chains.
The "investor protection" provisions of NAFTA's Chapter 11 have actually been strengthened in CAFTA. This means the extended "patent protection" provisions of CAFTA will raise the drug costs for the region's 275,000 AIDS patients from $216 a year to $4,900 a year. CAFTA is literally a death sentence for these quarter-million Central Americans.
Environmental and occupational health will pay a heavy cost as well. The Texas-based Harken Energy company has announced it will sue Costa Rica for $58 billion (more than the country's entire gross national product) if it is not allowed to begin offshore oil drilling in protected waters designated by the United Nations as a "World Heritage Site."
Mexico had the advantage of having workplace safety regulations that are roughly equivalent to those in the U.S., and Mexico has a formal infrastructure for enforcing these regulations (even if it does not and cannot do so).
Central American countries, however, have neither the regulations nor the infrastructure for enforcement. These countries have been kept way behind the curve in terms of workplace safety for the very same reason that Mexico does not enforce its more developed regs: anything that "discourages foreign investment" such as promulgation or enforcement of health-protective regulations is economic suicide and a political impossibility for Mexico and the much smaller and weaker Central American countries.
So those of us concerned about protecting workers' health and safety anywhere in the world have our work cut out for us in Central America when CAFTA comes into play. We have our own good example, however, of how we can partner with worker organizations be they unions, women's, human rights or community-based organizations to provide essential information, technical assistance and training to protect workers whose well-being the global economy cares not one whit about.
Since CAFTA does not even have the worker complaint procedures that exist (and failed) under NAFTA, we will have to be creative in terms of figuring out how to track and document the impact of the treaty and the global economy on occupational health and safety in Central America. But this will be a key role that OHS professionals can and must play.
There's nothing like a good challenge to inspire an exemplary response. So for all those looking for a challenge and/or inspiration, this would be a good place to begin.
NETWORK MAKES A SPLASH AT THE WORLD SAFETY CONGRESS
The Network hosted a "Grassroots Social Hour" at the September World Safety Congress in Orlando, Florida, which drew more than 100 participants from all corners of the globe. The activity was designed to present the work of two Network partners COVERCO in Guatemala and CFO in Mexico so that occupational health professionals attending the conference could consider possible collaborations with grassroots organizations of workers in the developing world.
Speaking at the gathering were Julia Quinonez of the Comite Fronterizo de Obreros on the US-Mexico border and Homero Fuentes of COVERCO in Guatemala, who has also been coordinator of a region-wide initiative in Central America. Quinonez and Fuentes described their organizations' work in the area of workplace safety as well as other labor rights, and appealed for international solidarity and support. A representative from the Guangzhou Occupational Health & Rehabilitation Center in southern China was also scheduled to speak, but he could not make the trip to the U.S. because of a medical emergency.
Quinonez and Fuentes described working conditions in factories in their countries, many owned by or operated for U.S.-based Fortune 500 companies. Despite claims by transnational corporations of implementing "one global standard" for workplace health and safety, actual factory conditions in Mexico and Guatemala, as well as other "export processing zones" around the world, are often in violation of national laws, international conventions, and corporate "codes of conduct."
The speakers described their organizations' efforts to increase the factory workers' understanding of workplace hazards, possible control measures, and their rights under the law. Both organizations have organized workshops with our Network and have carried out follow-up activities to distribute written materials and technical assistance to workers in their countries. They solicited additional support from the assembled occupational health professionals for ongoing projects concerning workplace safety.
The social hour was co-hosted by the National Safety Council, the U.S. coordinating organization for the World Congress. Alan McMillan, President and CEO of the NSC, attended the social hour and opened the program with his greetings. Congress participants who attended the social gathering came from two dozen countries in the Americas, Asia, Africa and Europe.
In addition to the social gathering, Quinonez, Fuentes and Network Coordinator Garrett Brown spoke on a panel on "Occupational Safety and Health Conditions of Vulnerable Populations in the Americas" during the three-day international conference. The Network's two trainings in Central America involving field day visits to Korean-owned factories producing garments for The Gap were the subject of another conference presentation by a representative of the clothing manufacturer's corporate social responsibility department.
The XVIIth World Congress on Safety and Health at Work was held for the first time in the United States in Orlando on September 18-22, 2005. The every-three year gathering was co-sponsored by the International Labor Organization (ILO), the International Social Security Association (ISSA) and U.S. organizations including the U.S. Department of Labor (OSHA and MSHA) and the National Safety Council (NSC), which was the national host organization. The Congress had four main themes: Impact of globalization: opportunities and risks; Leadership in safety and health; Challenges in a changing world of work; and Prevention.
POLITICAL CRACKDOWN IN CHINA COMPLICATES PROJECT
A deepening crackdown on political rights and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in China has complicated an ongoing Network project to expand labor rights, including occupational safety and health, in China.
A capacity-building workshop for labor rights NGOs on effective training techniques and participatory research scheduled for June 2005, and to be hosted by Zhongshan University in Guangzhou in the Pearl River Delta, had to be indefinitely postponed when several participating NGOs reported visits by the State Security Bureau.
The workshop was planned at a March meeting at the university attended by eight labor rights NGOs from various regions of China and Katie Quan of the UC Berkeley Labor Center and Network Coordinator Garrett Brown. The meeting selected the topics and event date as part of a year-long project to identify and support effective strategies and grassroots-level activities to protect the rights and health of workers in China, especially in the Pearl River Delta where millions of migrant workers from western China work in huge factories producing consumer goods for the United States market.
However, the Chinese government has become increasingly concerned about the growth and impact of grassroots NGOs, both rural and urban, working on issues like environmental protection, rural and urban poverty, labor rights and factory conditions. The dramatic and growing inequality of Chinese society has generated tremendous social tensions and explosions. The China National Bureau of Statistics reported in June 2005 that the richest 10% of the nation's citizens enjoyed 45% of the country's wealth, while the poorest 10% enjoyed only 1.4%. The government recently reported there were 74,000 protests and "mass incidents," involving 3.7 million people, in China in 2004.
In June, the government ordered all China-based web sites and bloggers to register with the government, or be closed down. In August, it was reported in the state media that the government was drafting legislation to prohibit or severely restrict all NGO activity, laws which have not yet been enacted. In September, the government imposed more restrictions on the news media and Internet sites intended to limit the topics and scope of news and website resources available. Throughout this period, prominent Chinese journalists and Chinese staff of publications like the New York Times have been arrested by authorities.
In May, several of the NGOs who were to participate in the UC Berkeley/MHSSN workshop were visited by government security who inquired about their interaction with foreigners and their interest in labor rights. Other invited groups also reported increased surveillance of their activities this spring and said they could not come to any workshop involving foreign participants on these issues at the present time.
Efforts are continuing to explore possible venues in northern as well as southern China, and to find appropriate partners who would be able to host educational activities on workplace safety and implementation of labor protections required by Chinese law in both nationally- and internationally-owned workplaces.
These activities will likely involve some of the organizations that participated in the Network's 2001 workplace safety training in Dongguan City, as well as reaching out to new non-governmental organizations and Chinese universities. Also involved in the project is UC Berkeley's Labor Occupational Health Program, which contributed instructors and materials to the 2001 event.
APHA CONFERENCE AND THE "TRADE & HEALTH WORKING GROUP"
A meeting of the Working Group on Trade & Health of the American Public Health Association will be held on Sunday, December 11th at 2:30 pm in Philadelphia. The APHA convention was postponed and moved to Philadelphia after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, the original site of the event. The Working Group meeting will be held in Room 112B of the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
At 4:30 pm on Tuesday, December 13th, Network Coordinator Garrett Brown will be speaking on a panel on "Public Health Impacts of International Trade Treaties" in Room 101A of the Penn Convention Center. The panel, hosted by the Occupational Health and Safety Section of APHA, is sponsored by the association-wide Working Group.
The Working Group on Trade & Health was formed in November 2004 to educate APHA members on the adverse impacts of current and proposed international trade agreements, to communicate these concerns to Congress during consideration of free trade agreements, and to demand that public health advocates are included in the "trade advisory committees" established by the U. S. Trade Representative's office.
The initiative was the brainchild of Ellen Shaffer, a member of the APHA Medical Care Section and coordinator of the Center for Policy Analysis on Trade and Health (CPATH). The CPATH website (www.cpath.org) has a tremendous amount of information and analysis on trade agreements and their impact on a wide variety of public health issues.
Shaffer will be one of three speakers at a Tuesday, December 13th, at a special session on trade and public health. At that time there are only four sessions for the anticipated 10,000 members attending the gathering, so the trade panel should be well attended. Shaffer co-authored a major article in the January 2005 issue of the American Journal of Public Health summarizing the key aspects of the issue.
NETWORK'S PERSPECTIVES IN BLACK AND WHITE
Over the last nine months, the activities and strategy of the Network have made the light of day in various professional and trade publications, and presentations by Coordinator Garrett Brown. The articles and speeches are now posted on the website (www.igc.org/mhssn) and are accessible for downloading. The recent publications include:
- In September, the Industrial Safety and Hygiene News published a column entitled: "ISO's Social Responsibility Guidelines, A small step forward maybe";
- In August, New Solutions published "Why NAFTA Failed and What's Needed to Protect Workers' Health and Safety in International Trade Treaties," one of the two reports issued by the Network earlier this year;
- In August, Brown spoke at a conference organized by the U.S. Center to Protect Workers' Rights held in Tijuana, Mexico. The luncheon speech, entitled "Immigrant Workers Are Our Allies, Not Our Enemies," is posted on our website and will be part of the conference proceedings posted at CPWR's website: www.cpwr.com ;
- In June, the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health published an article entitled "Protecting Workers' Health and Safety in the Globalizing Economy through International Trade Treaties." The article included two pages of photographs by award-winning photographer David Bacon.
MAQUILADORA WORKERS CONTINUE TO BATTLE FOR THEIR RIGHTS
Although the U.S.-Mexico border and the almost 3,000 U.S.-owned and operated maquiladora plants throughout Mexico have fallen off the media's radar, important battles for safe workplaces and workers' rights continue to break out and rapidly evolve. Tracking these efforts, and responding to "action alerts," is most easily done by checking the websites and getting on the email list-serves of the major worker support organizations on the border.
Three of these worker support organizations are the Coalition for Justice in the Maquiladoras (CJM), a tri-national coalition with border affiliates all along the border; the Comite Fronterizo de Obreros (CFO) with local affiliates all along the Texas-Mexico border; and the San Diego Maquiladora Worker Solidarity Network (SDMWSN) and the Tijuana Workers Information Center (CITTAC) in the San Diego-Tijuana region.
Listed below are the websites of these organizations and the most immediate campaigns each group is involved in. There are numerous other support organizations on the border and interior of Mexico, as well many more factories were workers are attempting to exercise their rights, but working with any or all of these three organizations is a good place to start.
For over 12 years, the 12,000 workers at Manufacturas Lajat (Lajat) have performed sewing, laundering, ironing and finishing operations for international brands such as Levis, Mudd Jeans, Old Navy, GAP, Polo and Tommy Hilfiger in La Laguna, Mexico, a region that includes the three cities of Gomez Palacio, Torreon and Lerdo.
Workers at the Lajat factories have many complaints. Workers regularly use chemicals to "stonewash" jeans without adequate protection for their skin and respiratory system. There is not enough drinking water or toilets in the facilities, and no lunchroom in Lajat Gomez Palacio, meaning workers eat on the production floor where their food can be contaminated.
Lajat earn a base weekly pay of 350 pesos (about $32), which can rise with bonuses for punctuality, attendance and production to as much as 600 pesos ($55) a week. However, any absence, tardiness or failure to meet production quotas means that workers revert to pay levels below the minimum wage. Thus many workers are forced to work for up to 12 hours a week of unpaid overtime in order to meet the production goals and keep their bonuses. Also holiday and vacation bonuses are paid in jeans than wages.
Workers at Lajat plants decided to form the "Coalition of Workers of Manufacturas Lajat" and asked for international solidarity through CJM to redress these problems. They later tried to form their own union, only to find that the "official" CTM union has "represented" Lajat workers without their knowledge for years. The workers have now affiliated with a Mexico City garment workers union and are attempting to hold a certification election at the plants.
They have had to confront a management decision to close some plants and shift workers to far-flung plants to which they would have to "commute." Lajat has also regularly deducted social service contributions while failing to transfer these ($1.2 million) to the government agencies. Leaders of the Coalition have been fired by Lajat, and then rehired following international pressure campaigns, including intervention by their client Levi.
As with all these battle there is a weekly back-and-forth between the workers, and international solidarity on one side; and the employer, the official union and government agencies on the other side. Messages of support to the worker coalition, and letters of protest to the employer, brands and government agencies, have made a critical difference in improving some aspects of working conditions, in protecting workers against illegal reprisals and implementation of Mexican law.
Information on this ongoing battle, emblematic of the fate of workers in Mexico, can be found on the website of the Coalition for Justice in the Maquiladoras (www.coalitionforjustice.net).
In Piedras Negras, Mexico, hundreds of workers at Alco's Macoelmex factory in Piedras Negras factory have been trying since 2002 to form their own member-controlled union to replace the government- and company-dominated "official union" at the facility. After years of illegal actions by the company and stalling by the government, the Comite Fronterizo de Obreros (CFO) organization supporting the workers filed a formal complaint for violation of freedom of association rights against Mexico with the International Labor Organization (ILO). In November 2004, the ILO accepted the complaint for investigation, so Mexico's government will now have to answer the complaint before the ILO in Geneva, Switzerland.
In February 2005, Alcoa fired 22 workers and issued written reprimands to 74 others for organizing to improve conditions and form an independent, member-controlled union. Since then Alcoa has installed an extensive system of surveillance cameras in the workplaces.
An Alcoa worker reported to CFO that: "the supervisors scare the workers saying the cameras have such a long range that they can see if a worker writes something and can even read it. It can also see our eye color and clearly hear of a worker is talking to another worker. It is forbidden to form groups. Supervisors don't even want to see us gathering during lunch time. Their watching is excessive here in the factory. They have prohibited personal phone calls and when someone makes a call, they want to know why. There is too much intimidation and harassment going on; there is no peace."
Information on the Alcoa case, as well as CFO support efforts with workers at Black & Decker and Delphi Automotive plants, is available on the CFO's website (www.cfomaquiladoras.org).
SDMWSN/CITTAC INDUSTRIA FRONTERIZA
In Tijuana, Mexico, after more than two and a half years of legal and political battles, illegally fired workers at Industria Fronteriza were supposed to confiscate part of the plant's equipment on December 7, 2004. The legally ordered action is needed to pay four fired workers their legally-required severance pay of $52,000. The confiscation could not occur because two Tijuana Labor Board attorneys, required to be present, suddenly reported they were "sick" and not able to physically appear at the plant.
The lack of the Labor Board attorneys was not the only obstacle the workers faced on Dec. 7th. The plant's "official union," affiliated with the CTM or Mexican Workers Confederation, at the facility showed up with 40 people, including some with wooden clubs, to intimidate the workers and their supporters during the legal equipment seizure. After the "sick-out" by Labor Board attorneys, the fired workers sat in the Board's offices for hours until the Board president Raul Zenil y Orona, agreed to send Labor Board personnel the next day.
On December 8th, the official union's goon squad was gone, but the Labor Board's actuary raised new issues to prevent the confiscation from occurring. First, the actuary said that he could not confiscate the machinery while a strike was occurring. Over night the official union, or company personnel, had posted a black and red strike banner at the door on Dec. 8th when, in fact, the strike on site had ended more than a year before. Second, the actuary also said although the fired workers had the right to "material confiscation," they could not remove the equipment from the factory for sale.
The workers are now in yet another round of legal and political battles with the Mexican government, its official union and the company. Since 2002 the workers on site have had a legally recognized independent Coalition, and they have won a lawsuit and two appeals against the company for the illegal firings and for indemnification of the workers. The confiscation was ordered, as per Mexican law, because the company refused to pay the legal severance settlement.
In a case similar to the Lajat and Industria Fronteriza factories on the other end of the border, Cardinal Health (formerly Alaris Medical Systems) moved its factory from one industrial park to another in Tijuana in August 2004. Two dozen workers, who were already working a 10.5-hour day, faced another two hours of commute time on very limited public buses to get to the new plant and back to their homes.
The new schedule would make it impossible for workers to attend doctor's appointments for themselves or their children. Workers would have to miss an entire day to handle any emergency or family business. Because of the pay structure, missing one day of work can cost the workers up to a half-week of pay. Many of these workers have worked at the factory for more than 10 years.
Due to these difficulties, the workers decided to not make the move and to apply for the legally required severance pay. Cardinal Health is balking at meeting their legal responsibilities in paying the severance. In addition, workers are asking for the legally required overtime pay above eight hours a day for their 10.5-hour shifts. Moreover, workers are also concerned that Cardinal has not transferred the social security deductions taken from workers pay to the appropriate government agencies. In 2003 Cardinal Health reported profits of $285 million.
Full information on the Industria Fronteriza and Cardinal Health cases, is available at the website of CITTAC (www.cittac.org), the Tijuana Workers Information Center, and from Enrique Davalos of the San Diego Maquiladora Workers' Solidarity Network (email@example.com).
- The Network applied to the World Trade Organization for non-governmental organization observer status at the WTO's next global meeting in December 2005 in Hong Kong. The WTO rejected our application, and declined our appeal to review their decision. The WTO stated our Network was not eligible for registration "either because [the] organization is not concerned with matters related to those of the WTO or because it does not qualify as a non-governmental and not-for-profit organization." Or maybe they did not like the look of our website and its contents &
- In August the Network co-sponsored a showing of the San Francisco Bay Area premiere showing of "Stolen Childhoods," an award winning documentary on global child labor. The feature-length film was narrated by Meryl Streep and directed by Len Morris, who was present at the screening. The event was organized by Amnesty International at UC Berkeley's Pacific Film Archive. Information on the film is available from: www.stolenchildhoods.com
- In May Network Coordinator Garrett Brown spoke at the American Industrial Hygiene Conference & Exhibition in Anaheim, California. Brown spoke on "NAFTA's Failure to Protect Mexican Workers' Health and Safety," highlighting the Network's two reports issued on this theme in early 2005 which are posted on the website: www.igc.org/mhssn .
- In April the Network co-sponsored an international conference on "Workplace Health and Safety in the Global Economy" at the Labor Education and Research Center of the University of Oregon in Eugene. Network partners Karen Hui of the Guangzhou, China, Occupational Health & Rehabilitation Center, Monina Wong of the Hong Kong Christian Industrial Committee, Julia Quinonez of the CFO organization in Mexico and Homero Fuentes of COVERCO in Guatemala, were featured presenters as well as Coordinator Garrett Brown. Also speaking were Ellen Rosskam of the International Labor Organization; Cathy Walker, Safety Director of the Canadian Auto Workers union; Nick Henwood of the South African Industrial Health Research Group; Walter Varillas of the Peruvian Instituto STYMA; and Kalpona Akter of the Bangladesh Center for Workers Solidarity.
- In March Coordinator Brown represented the Network at Intertek's fifth annual corporate social responsibility conference on "Partnering for Progress: Sharing Ideas and Best Practices" in New York City. Brown spoke on "Key Principles and Activities for Sustainable Workplace Health & Safety Programs," describing the 12-year history of Network projects in Mexico, Central America, Indonesia and China. Copies of the powerpoint presentation can be obtained by emailing Brown at: firstname.lastname@example.org
QUOTES OF THE MONTH
-- "'They shouted at us, they did not let us go to the bathroom, they gave us food that made us vomit,' said Guadalupe Avila Jimenez, reciting a litany of indignities she said she had suffered at the [Rubie's Costume Co. factory producing clothes for Mattel's Barbie doll] in Tepeji del Rio &The dispute has followed what has become almost a standard script in the maquiladora labor conflicts over the past decade. Workers try to form their own union, only to find that they have been represented often without their knowledge by a union that is part of the Confederation of Mexican Workers, the old-line federation that was a pillar of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which ruled Mexico for 71 years." Elisabeth Malkin, New York Times, June 12, 2005.
-- "More than 90% of the world computers, digital cameras, and mobile phones are produced in the low-wage manufacturing centers of Asia. Last year Wal-Mart alone imported about $15 billion in goods from China. Taken to its extreme, the search for cheap labor leads to the collapse of the Spectrum Sweater factory in Bangladesh [which killed 64], where workers told horror stories about forced labor and an inability to collect their pay. An English-language Bangladeshi-language called the Daily Star wrote afterward, 'It is the collusive arrangement of government agencies and factory owners who cut costs at the expense of the safety of the workers that is the cause of so many deaths and injuries in this [garment] sector." Marc Gunther, Fortune magazine, June 14, 2005.
-- "Protecting stability comes before all else. Any behavior that wrecks stability and challenges the law will directly damage the people's fundamental interests... This is a golden period of development. And it is also a period when conflict is becoming pronounced. The incessant deepening of reform must inevitably involve the adjustment of interests. It is unavoidable that different people and different groups enjoy the fruits of reform and development to differing degree." editorial in the Chinese Communist Party's "People's Daily" newspaper, July 28, 2005. [The China National Bureau of Statistics reported in June 2005 that the richest 10% of the nation's citizens enjoyed 45% of the country's wealth, while the poorest 10% enjoyed only 1.4%.]
NEW ELECTRONIC RESOURCES
- NIOSH and the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work have launched a joint website to improve access to the vast pool of American and European resources. The website is: www.cdc.gov/niosh/usnetwork
- The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work and the International Occupational Hygiene Association have launched a joint website to share information from the European agency and the international professional association. The website is: http://eu.ioha.net
- "OSHAID International" Occupational Safety and Health Aid is a new Australian not-for-profit organization "committed to taking basic occupational health and safety management practices to industries in developing economies." The groups has a newly launched website at www.oshaid.org and is looking for volunteers. Interested OSH professionals should contact OSHAID chair John Ninness at email@example.com.
- The U.S. EPA has sponsored an independently operated website for information on U.S. and Mexican rules for shipping hazardous wastes. The "Border Compliance Assistance Center" includes info on packaging and labeling, customs regs, ports of entry, motor vehicle and insurance rules in U.S. states, and more. The website is: www.bordercenter.org
- All the presentations from the III Conference on Occupational and Environmental Health in the Americas, held in Costa Rice earlier this year, have been posted at: www.saltra.net/americas There are a wealth of very informative and thought-provoking presentations ready for downloading.
- Cathy Walker of the Canadian Auto Workers Union, and an "old China hand" from a labor perspective, recommends the "China Study Group" website for keeping up with developments on China's factory floors. The website is: www.chinastudygroup.org
MAJOR REPORTS AND NEW RESOURCES ON GLOBAL WORKPLACES
There continues to be a river of informational and analytical reports on working conditions in the world's factories released each month. Because the number of reports in the months since the last newsletter has grown so large, the listing is being posted directly on the Network website so as to keep the newsletter as brief as possible.
Included below, however, is a list of selected reports and information since the last newsletter.
Occupational Safety and Health
- "Introductory Report: Decent Work Safe Work," report from the International Labor Organization released in April is a global status report on workplace safety and health around the world. It has the latest statistics and analysis of trends, most of them not good. Available at: www.ilo.org/publns
- "Working for Life: Sourcebook on Occupational Health for Women," is published by the Asia Monitor Resource Center (AMRC) in Hong Kong is a "how-to" manual for women workers and unionists to "develop action-oriented strategies based on the realities in their own workplace." Available at: www.amrc.org.hk
- "OSH Disparities in Developing Countries; The SH&E professional as an agent of change," by Michael Findley and June Gorski, in the April 2005 issue of "Professional Safety," journal of the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE). Available at: www.asse.org
- "Health and Safety Rollback in the Maquiladora Industry; Declining health and safety reflects intensified attack on labor rights," by Julia Quinonez and Ricardo Hernandez (of the Comite Fronterizo de Obreros and the American Friends Service Committee, respectively). Available at: http://cfomaquiladoras.org
- "Alcoa's High tech Sweatshops in Mexico & Honduras: The Race o the Bottom from NAFTA to CAFTA," by the National Labor Committee in New York City. Available at: www.nlcnet.org
- "Trade Unionism on the Northern Mexico Border: Its National and Local Heritage;" and "Effect of Unions in the Mexican Maquiladoras: A comparative analysis between Matamoros and Ciudad Juarez," two papers by Cirila Quintero Ramirez. Available from: firstname.lastname@example.org
- "Cross-Border Campaign Wins Maquila Demands," Citizen Action in the Americas, No. 16, report by the Americas Program of the International Relations Center (IRC), February 2005. Available at: www.americaspolicy.org
- "Globalization at the Crossroads, ten years of NAFTA in the San Diego/Tijuana Border Region," a report from the Environmental Health Coalition in January 2005. Available at: www.environmentalhealth.org
- "Economic Survey of China, 2005," report by the Organization of Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), September 2005. Available at: www.oecd.org
- "Crushed: A survey of work injuries and treatment in the Pearl River Delta," report by China Labor Watch in New York City, September 2005. Available at: www.chinalaborwatch.org
- "The Toy Industry in China: Undermining Workers' Rights and Rule of Law," report by China Labor Watch in New York City, September 2005. Available at: www.chinalaborwatch.org
- "The Challenge of China Trade union and industrial perspectives," report by the Swedish Svenska Metall union, August 2005.
- " Looking for Mickey Mouse's Conscience A survey of the working conditions of Disney factories in China," series of reports by the Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM) in Hong Kong and the National Labor Committee in New York City in August 2005. Available at: www.nlcnet.org
- "Workplace Safety in China," China Labour E-Bulletin No. 26 (June 20, 2005) from the China Labour Bulletin in Hong Kong. Available at: www.clb.org.hk
- "'Easy to Manage': A report on Chinese Toy Workers and the Responsibility of the Companies" by Kristina Bjurling of SwedWatch and the Fair Trade Centre, in Sweden, May 2005. Available at: www.swedwatch.org
- "Kingmaker Footwear (Timberland made in China) , report by China Labor Watch in New York City, May 2005. Available at: www.chinalaborwatcch.org
The United States
- "Immigrant Workers at Risk: The urgent need for improved workplace safety and health policies and programs," report by the AFL-CIO, Washington, DC, August 2005. Available at: www.aflcio.org
- "Globalization, Numerous Federal activities complement U.S. business's global social responsibility efforts," report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, No. GAO-05-744, August 2005. Available at: www.gao.gov
- "Free and Fair? How labor law fails U.S. democratic election standards," report by Gordon Lafer, June 2005. Available at: www.americanrightsatwork.org
- "A Systemic Approach to Occupational and Environmental Health," by Skip Spitzer in "Rachel's Environmental Health News," No. 817 and 818, May 2005, Available at: www.rachel.org
- "Freedom Denied; Forced Labor in California," report by the human Rights Center at the University of California at Berkeley, February 2005. Available at: www.berkeley.edu
- "Globalization and Cross-Border Labor Solidarity in the Americas: The Anti-Sweatshop movement and the struggle for social justice," book by Ralph Armbruster-Sandoval, Routlege, 2005. Available at: www.antisweatshopmovement.org
- "Insurrection: Citizen Challenges to Corporate Power," book by Kevin Danaher and Jason Mark, 2005. Available at: www.globalexchange.org
- "Pushing Back... Workers Speak Out on Free Trade," book from STITCH: Women Organizing for Worker Justice, Chicago, IL, 2005. Available at: www.stitchonline.org
- "Challenging the Chip: labor rights and environmental justice in the global electronics industry," book edited by Ted Smith, David Sennenfeld and David Pellow, Temple University Press, 2005. Available at: www.svtc.org
- "We Can Change the World," book by David Stratman, New Democracy Books, Boston, 2005. Available at: www.newdemocracyworld.org
- "CSR issues in the ICT hardware manufacturing sector," report by Irene Schipper and Esther de Haan, SOMO, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 2005. Available at: www.somo.nl
- "After the FTAA; Lessons from Europe for the Americas," report by Sarah Anderson and John Cavanagh, Institute for Policy Studies, Washington, DC., June 2005. Available at: www.ips-dc.org
- "Building International Solidarity: African-Asian Networking," report from the Clean Clothes Campaign, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, May 2005. Available from www.cleanslothes.org
Codes of Conduct
- "Global NGO coalition calls for tighter regulation of multinational corporations; Five year review by OECD Watch concludes OCD Guidelines are failing to deliver corporate accountability," report by OECD Watch, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, September 2005. Available at: www.oecdwatch.org
- "Development NGOs and Labor Unions, Terms of engagement," book edited by Deborah Eade and Alan Leather, Kumarian Press, July 2005. Available at: www.kpbooks.com
- "Collaborative Framework" and three research reports from the "MFA Forum, a multi-stakeholder initiative involving NGOs and international brands, June 2005. Available at: www.maquilasolidarity.org
- "Draft Code of Labour Practice," from the Joint Initiative on Corporate Accountability and Workers Rights, a joint effort by six monitoring organizations to improve working conditions in the global economy, draft code issued in May 2005. Available at: www.jo-in.org
- "Facing challenges, finding opportunities," 2004 Social Responsibility report from Gap Inc., issued in July 2005. Available at: www.gapinc.com
- "Second Corporate Responsibility Report," Nike Inc., issued in April 2005. Available at: www.nikeresponsibility.com
END OF NEWSLETTER - VOL. IX, NO. 2 October 30, 2005