Maquiladora Health & Safety Support Network Newsletter
December 9, 2001
Volume V, Number 4
Editor & Coordinator: Garrett Brown (email@example.com)
Webmaster: Heather Block (firstname.lastname@example.org)
P.O. Box 124, Berkeley, CA 94701-0124
Who We Are
Letter from the Coordinator
Quotes of the Month
WHO WE ARE
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 over 3,200 "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 1.2 million maquiladora workers employed by primarily U.S.-owned transnational corporations along Mexico's northern border from Matamoros to Tijuana. 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 border area workers 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), National Safety Council (NSC) and the 25 local grassroots Committee 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 border community organizations who can make use of the information and technical assistance offered. Please join us!
Return to TOP
LETTER FROM THE COORDINATOR - Garrett Brown
A fundamental belief guiding our Network has always been that one of the most important aspects to achieving safe and healthful workplaces in the maquilas (or anywhere else, for that matter) is having an informed, empowered and active workforce knowledgeable about the risks on the job and directly involved in identifying, evaluating and controlling these risks. One of the biggest obstacles on the U.S-Mexico border (and countries like China) is the lack of worker training and knowledge, and the lack of confidence on the part of individual workers that they can raise concerns about health and safety and still keep their jobs and not suffer reprisals and discrimination by supervisors and managers.
Independent, member-controlled unions, which can interact with plant managements and multinational corporations on a much more equal basis, may not be an absolute pre-condition for a safe and healthy workplace. But without a conscious, confident and involved workforce it is next to impossible to implement and sustain over time an effective health and safety program, especially in plants the size of those in Asia and the larger plants on the U.S.-Mexico border.
So the news from Mexico this fall was along the lines of one step forward, two steps backwards. The historic victory of the workers at the Kukdong factory in Puebla (described below) in establishing their own union and actually negotiating a contract with the Korean owners producing goods for Nike, Reebok and others in the U.S. collegiate clothing market, is a major step forward. Now the question is whether this development will be sustained by new orders from the U.S., or whether it will whither on the vine.
The news on the border, at the Duro Bag factory in Rio Bravo and the Alcoa auto parts plant in Ciudad Acuna, represents two major steps backward.
At Duro Bag, a plant operated by a Kentucky-based transnational, the workers succeeded last year in organizing their own member-controlled union. This union competed with the government-dominated, employer-friendly CROC union in a representation in March 2001. The election, however, was conducted in the midst of threats of violence and reprisals by the company and CROC "enforcers," and workers were required to state publicly, in front of their employer and CROC representatives, which union they supported. Not surprisingly only 4 workers of the 502 who voted voiced support for the independent union and all four were later fired.
In October 2001, the independent union, which continued to exist and enjoy widespread support within the plant, was taken over by members of the CROC union which conducted a secret "election" of the independent unions Executive Board without the knowledge or participation of the unions members. The CROC move, backed to date by local government authorities, is designed to prevent the independent union from contesting the March election as a violation of the workers right to a secret ballot election.
The administration of Mexican President Vincente Fox, who came to power with the promise to establish secret ballot union elections during his tenure, has failed to keep this promise (among many others) and has failed to overturn the blatant theft of the Duro workers independent union itself.
At Alcoas "Arneses y Accesorios" auto parts plant in Ciudad Acuna, plant management fired 186 workers in August 2001, including nine leaders of a rank-and-file committee which had been operating as a quasi-union in the plant. Since 1996 the worker committee had held meetings with three Chief Executive Officers of the Pittsburgh-based industrial giant, including current U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul ONeill. In July 2000, the Alcoa executives officially recognized the worker committee as clearinghouse for worker complaints and concerns, including those related to workplace safety and health.
The local managers of Alcoas plants in Mexico, however, have always dragged their feet in interacting with the workers committee. During 2001 the situation at the Ciudad Acuna plant worsened, and the workers conducted a one-day strike on August 21st with three simple demands: 1) respect and consideration for pregnant women; 2) an end to harassment and bad treatment by supervisors; and 3) continued and meaningful dialogue with the plants General Manager.
Alcoa then fired 186 of the workers who participated in the walkout right away, and about 50 other workers have been fired since August. The fired workers included the key leaders of the worker committee. The American Friends Service Committee, which works closely with the Comite Fronterizo de Obreras in Ciudad Acuna, has reported that many of the fired workers have been blacklisted and cannot find jobs in other local plants.
These developments on the northern border occur in the context of a growing national crisis in Mexico. There have been more than 150,000 maquila workers laid off in the last six months as the export-dependent Mexican economy has gone into a tailspin due to the recession in the U.S. In October, well-known human rights attorney Digna Ochoa was assassinated in her office in Mexico City in a death squad-style murder widely believed to have been carried out by elements of the Mexican military. The murder remains unsolved, but its impact as a "warning" to other activists in Mexico, including women maquila workers on the northern border, has been heard loud and clear.
With the economic crisis comes a reduction in the priority of workplace health and safety and a reduction of the resources available for making improvements in working conditions. With the Ochoa assassination, the Alcoa firings, and the take over of the independent Duro Bag union comes a closing of space for active, empowered workers to address and work on workplace safety issues.
One of the clear lessons from the unprecedented Kukdong victory is that even to win the ground they have taken for the moment required Herculean efforts by the plants workers combined with an international solidarity campaign by U.S. anti-sweatshop collegiate groups, the worldwide anti-globalization movement of non-government organizations, and direct pressure from the ultimate retailers of Kukdongs products Nike and Reebok who themselves were under tremendous pressure.
In this context, the modest contributions of our own Network building the capacity of maquila workers to recognize and evaluate workplace hazards through trainings and technical assistance, and facilitating connections between maquila workers and supporters in the United States and Canada are crucial. If there was ever a time when the expertise, knowledge transfer and simple human solidarity of our Network with the maquiladora workers in Mexico and elsewhere in the world was needed this is it.
Return to TOP
CUSTOMTRIM/AUTOTRIM WORKERS DEMAND ACTION BY NAFTA OFFICES
On the one-year anniversary of the public hearing of their NAFTA complaint against unsafe working conditions in two maquiladora plants in Mexico, workers of Autotrim and Customtrim/Breed Mexicana have demanded action by the U.S. and Mexican labor authorities.
In a November 20, 2001, letter to Lewis Karesh, Acting Secretary of the U.S. National Administrative Office (NAO) at the U.S. Department of Labor, attorney Monica Schurtman wrote on behalf of the workers:
"On July 6, 2001, at the NAOs request, the petitioners in Submission 2000-01, submitted to you a comprehensive set of health and safety recommendations. At the NAOs request, we also prioritized items for immediate action. Finally, we asked that a reasonable timetable be adopted for the conduct of the Ministerial Consultations, and for implementation of recommendations. Our July 6th set of recommendations simply provided more specificity to an earlier set of recommendations that we filed with the NAO on May 21, 2001
To date, the NAO has not provided the submitters with concrete information about the progress of Ministerial Consultations or the implementation of the recommendations made by the U.S. NAO itself [in its April 6, 2001, report], by NIOSH [which issued a report in March 2001], or by the submitters.
"The submitters would like to think that tangible improvements may still result from the Autotrim/Customtrim case. Only the timely implementation of real changes to ameliorate the conditions that adversely affect the health of current and former workers will convince the submitters that the NAALC process is more than window-dressing for NAFTA."
The workers are now preparing a letter to be sent to U.S. Labor Secretary Elaine Chao demanding that an "Evaluation Committee of Experts" (ECE) be formed to take up the Autotrim/Customtrim complaint. No ECE has ever been formed, although it is the next step in the long, torturous process established by the NAFTA labor side agreement (NAALC) to resolve charges that one or another of the three NAFTA countries has "persistently failed" to enforce its own, existing labor regulations.
Workers at the two Mexican auto parts maquilas operated by Breed Technologies Inc. of Florida, have been working since April 1997 to improve unsafe working conditions in the plants in Matamoros and Valle Hermoso. The workers submitted two detailed complaints in 1998 and 1999 to the Mexican workplace safety agency, STPS, but no action was taken to correct the widespread ergonomic hazards and solvent exposures which had produced numerous injuries and illnesses in the plants.
In June 2000, the workers submitted an extensive complaint under the NAALC process, the first submission devoted entirely to health and safety issues. The U.S. NAO accepted the submission in September 2000 and a public hearing was held in San Antonio, TX, in December 2000. In January 2001 occupational health experts from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) conducted one-day inspections of the two plants.
In March and April 2001, NIOSH and the U.S. NAO office issued reports confirming the charges made by the workers, and the U.S. NAO called for "Ministerial Consultations" between the labor secretaries of Mexico and the U.S. to address the "persistent failure" to enforce Mexican regulations and correct unsafe working conditions in the plants. The workers and other submitters sent the U.S. NAO letters in May and July 2001 providing detailed recommendations to both the U.S. and Mexican NAO offices.
To date, no Ministerial Consultations have been scheduled, no action has been taken by the U.S. or Mexican NAO offices to address the complaint, and no action has been taken by the Mexican STPS, Ministry of Health or Social Security Institute to correct the identified hazards and compensate worker injuries at the two Breed Technology plants.
Return to TOP
NETWORK VOLUNTEERS ACTIVE IN GUATEMALA AND USA
Network volunteers have played key roles in two ongoing efforts to improve working conditions in Guatemala and the United States. Mary Erio of Kansas City will travel to Guatemala in mid-December while Greg Siwinski of upstate New York worked on an audit of conditions in a clothing plant in Derby, NY, in June and July 2001.
Erio, an industrial hygienist who operates her own consulting firm, will be providing a Spanish-language training in Guatemala City on December 10-11th on key occupational health and safety issues for Guatemalan and Salvadoran members of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) conducting monitoring visits to garment factories in the two Central American countries.
The training program has been organized by the Washington, DC-based International Labor Rights Fund (ILRF) and the 25 training participants will be coming from the COVERCO and GMIES organizations in Guatemala and El Salvador. Both organizations have conducted on-site monitoring of factories operated by contractors for U.S. retailers such as Liz Claiborne and The Gap. The COVERCO reports, and background information, are available at www.maquilasolidarity.org, while the GMIES reports are available at www.nlcnet.org.
Erio expects to provide participants with basic hazard recognition and evaluation skills, with a focus on health-related hazards of garment and warehouse operations. Other speakers will provide the specifics of Guatemalan and Salvadoran workplace health and safety laws, but Erio will also highlight inspection techniques and activities to enhance the effectiveness of the NGO monitors work.
Erio, like Siwinski, has volunteered her time and is being compensated only for her travel and living expenses. More information on her experience with the training is available from Ero at email@example.com
The ILRF is conducting a series of trainings in Asia and the Americas designed to building the capacity of local NGOs to participate, if they chose to, in the various codes of conduct monitoring programs in effect around the world. The trainings in Central America are being coordinated by Jonathan Rosenblum at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. More information on ILRF activities is available from their website at www.laborrights.org
Greg Siwinski put in about two weeks worth of pro bono time in June and July to assist the Workers Rights Consortium (WRC) to investigate reports of dangerous working conditions at the New Era Cap Co. Inc. in Derby, NY. New Era produces caps for U.S. universities as a licensed contractor, and the WRC is a monitoring organization, partially funded by universities, to investigate complaints of breaches of university codes of conduct at licensee factories in the U.S. and internationally.
New Era, which has a unionized workforce at the Derby plant, has in recent established new production operations in Alabama (non-union) and in Bangladesh (independent subcontractors). In September 2001 the workers at the Derby facility began an ongoing strike when their contract expired and no new agreement was reached.
In May 2001, seven workers filed a complaint with the WRC for violations of university codes of conduct in three areas: occupational safety and health; age and disability discrimination; and freedom of association and collective bargaining rights.
Siwinski, an industrial hygienist with an occupational health clinic in the Syracuse area, provided key expertise in evaluating bloodborne pathogen exposures from sewing machine needles and tagging guns, and ergonomic hazards related to repetitive work processes and high production goals. Siwinski was part of an assessment team that included labor lawyers, economists, sociologists, and human rights experts.
Because the company refused entry to the WRC investigators, Siwinskis work consisted of extensive off-site interviews with more than 30 New Era workers, and reviewing hundreds of pages of documents, including OSHA inspection and Review Commission files, records of the National Labor Relations Board, and records from the plant union (Local 14177 of the Communication Workers of America). The assessment team also attempted to interview plant managers, but their requests were refused.
Siwinski reported that the plant had received notices from Federal OSHA regarding ergonomic hazards in the early 1990s, as well as during subsequent inspection visits, but New Era had not implemented their settlement agreements with OSHA. As a result there are high ergonomic injury rates in the plant, according to the medical records reviewed.
Siwinski noted that the deteriorating conditions in the unionized New York plant at the same time that production was being moved to the lower-wage, non-union Alabama plant and out-sourced altogether to garment plants in Bangladesh is a thumb-nail sketch of the adverse impact of economic globalization on workplace health and safety in the U.S. and worldwide. More information on the investigation is available from Siwinski at firstname.lastname@example.org
The WRC issued its preliminary report on the investigation in August 2001 and it is available on their website at www.workersrights.org
Return to TOP
KUKDONG WORKERS WIN HISTORIC VICTORY
In September 2001, the 400 workers of the Kukdong garment factory in Atlixco, Puebla, Mexico, won a historic victory in not only establishing their own independent, member-controlled union at the plant, but also signing their first contract with the Korean-owned factory producing collegiate-licensed clothing for Nike, Reebok and others. The contract is to be renewed in April 2002 after negotiations on wages and working conditions, including health and safety issues. The independent union is called SITEMEX and is not affiliated with any of the labor federations in Mexico.
This marks the first time that maquila workers have been able to secure bargaining rights and actually sign a contract with their employer. At several other maquiladoras, such as Han Young and Duro Bag, workers have formed their own union, but they have not been able to negotiate and sign a contract. The intense opposition of the U.S. corporations operating maquilas, working with government-controlled unions and local political powers and police, has prevented any independent unions, until now, from establishing legally recognized representation and a contract.
The worker victory at Kukdong, now called Mex Mode, was a result of not only of determination of the young women garment workers, but also due to international solidarity from college students in the United States and Canada organized by United Students Against Sweatshops, from the Workers Rights Consortium monitoring organization, from human rights groups such as Global Exchange and the International Labor Rights Fund, and pressure from both Nike and Reebok on the Korean contractor.
The developments at Kukdong/Mex Mode represent the convergence of forces of independent unionists in Mexico, U.S. college student anti-sweatshop activism, the worldwide "anti-globalization" movement, and the pressure felt, and then exerted, by and consumer goods retailers such as Nike and Reebok.
On November 30, 2001, Nike issued a statement pledging to renew orders at the plant in 2002 which had tapered off between the January 2001 strike by workers and the September 2001 contract signing with Kukdong/Mex Mode. Renewing Nikes business, which accounted for about 85% of the plants production in 2000, is a key step to ensuring that this historic development does not immediately pass into history if the plant shuts down for lack of orders.
Although the Puebla plant is not on the U.S.-Mexico border, it is clearly a maquiladora-type operation in terms of its workforce, production organization, and pay scales. The success of the young women in Atlixco is being closely watched and evaluated by worker organizations in the border maquila zones of northern Mexico.
For more information on the background, chronology and issues of this case, please view the websites of the Workers Rights Consortium, at www.workersrights.org, and Nike, at www.nikebiz.com
Return to TOP
CHINA TRAINING UPDATE
In mid-November, Juliana So of the Chinese Working Women Network visited the three sports shoe factories which participated in the July-August 2001 workplace health and safety training in Dongguan City, China. So, the local coordinator of the project, met with 60 workers and supervisors who participated in the project to conduct a post-training evaluation, and to learn about ongoing efforts in the three facilities to establish plant-wide health and safety committees with worker participation.
So also met in November with the 22 training participants from four Hong Kong-based non-governmental organizations who traveled to the 12,000-worker facility with the training was held. The NGO participants also completed a post-training evaluation and reported on the health and safety-related activities they have conducted in Hong Kong and in China since the training.
Network Coordinator Garrett Brown and MIT Professor Dara ORourke, who together received the MacArthur Foundation grant to organize the training, will travel to the three factories in January 2002 to complete a final evaluation. The projects Coordinating Committee, which includes representatives of all the participating organizations, will produce a consensus Final Report of the project in early 2002, which will be publicly released.
Return to TOP
SAIPAN SWEATSHOP LAWSUIT TO PUT RETAILERS ON TRIAL
In an ruling on October 29, 2001, a Federal Judge in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands upheld a class-action complaint by workers alleging sweatshop conditions while producing goods for The Gap, Target, JC Penny, Levi Strauss and others on the Pacific island of Saipan, a U.S. Territory. The ruling means that the case against these major U.S. retailers will go to trial in Federal Court in 2002.
The workers complaint describe the conditions that many of the 13,000 garment workers in Saipan face: 12-hour days, seven days a week in unsafe, unclean workplaces that have been found in violation of numerous U.S. health, safety, wage and hour regulations, which are in force in the Marianas. The Saipan garment industry employs foreign workers, primarily young, rural women from China, who were required to sign "shadow contracts" waiving their basic human rights. These women also have to pay "recruitment fees" as high as $7,000, just to come to Saipan, creating an indentured status that has been illegal in the United States since the end of slavery in the Civil War.
U.S. District Judge Alex R. Munson wrote in his 55-page decision: "when the labor is tied to a debt owed to the employer and the employer physically coerces the worker to labor until the debt is paid, or the consequences of failing to work to pay off the debt are so severe and outside the customary legal remedy that the worker is compelled to labor, a condition of peonage results, and this is the essence of the plaintiffs allegations."
Earlier in October, in a separate but related action against the Saipan factory owners for requiring "volunteer work" to meet production quotas in violation of U.S. overtime laws, Judge Munson ordered that some 20,000 current and former garment workers in several countries be notified of their right to claim back wages. A complaint in a California state court case against The Gap and other retailers for alleged false advertising and fraud in claiming to sell only "sweatshop free" clothing has also been upheld.
Since the cases against the U.S. retailers was filed in 1999, nineteen of the defendants have settled the claims and have agreed to a system of independent monitoring at the Saipan factories where subcontractors produce their clothes. The settlement provides for a multi-million dollar fund for monitoring, and requires retailers to ensure that their Saipan contractors comply with labor regulations setting standards for minimum wages and overtime pay, providing safe food and drinking water, and compliance with health and safety regulations.
The retailers which have refused to settle and who will now go to court The Gap, Levi Strauss, Target, JC Penny and others claim they should not be held responsible for the actions of their Saipan contractors because the retailers are "only customers."
The Saipan case has importance for improving sweatshop working conditions around the world because it establishes legal responsibility of the ultimate retailer in the U.S. for working conditions in the factories where the goods are produced. Although Saipan is a U.S. Territory, and U.S. law directly applies to these factories, there is a growing body of case law where U.S. corporations have been held responsible for factory conditions in other countries, including Mexico.
Further information on the case is available at the website of Sweatshop Watch, at www.sweatshopwatch.org and Global Exchange, at www.globalexchange.org
Return to TOP
MAJOR REPORTS ON GLOBAL SWEATSHOPS
There continues to be a river of informational and analytical reports on working conditions in the worlds factories released each month. What once was a paucity of "hard information" and a surplus of "anecdotal reports" has become an almost overwhelming torrent of materials. Here is a brief description of some of the latest reports.
Canadas Maquila Solidarity Network has generated an excellent, and essential, series of reports on corporate codes of conduct and monitoring systems. Nine of these "Codes Update Memos," issued in both English and Spanish, are available at the Networks website at www.maquilasolidarity.org. The latest of these memos, Number #9 issued in November 2001, assesses the developments and debates related to codes of conduct and their implementation over the last year, and looks ahead at possible future trends.
Another invaluable source of information on community-based monitoring systems is the Dutch Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO). The SOMO website has a resource list of many of the reports issued about monitoring visits, discussion papers, and reports on labor standards, available at www.somo.nl/monitoring .
The most important aspect of SOMOs work has been reporting on the pilot monitoring projects in Asia, Africa and Latin America of five national initiatives by European anti-sweatshop organizations. These pilot projects involve both the manufacturers and retailers of garment and sportswear products in Europe, and community-based grassroots and labor organizations in the producing countries.
The experience of European and developing world non-governmental organizations in testing various ways of actually implementing and verifying corporate and other codes of conduct offers a wealth of lessons for similar groups and business organizations in the United States.
Among the reports on the worlds sweatshops issued in the last quarter are:
-- Nike Inc. issued in October 2001 its first worldwide corporate responsibility report with comprehensive information on its efforts to monitor compliance with wage, benefits, health and safety, and management systems for its 750 factories employing 500,000 workers in more than 50 countries. The report is available at www.nikebiz.com
-- Final Report of the Independent Monitoring Group of El Salvador (GMIES) of the Doall factories in El Salvador producing for Liz Claiborne, available at the website of the National Labor Committee in New York City at www.nlcnet.org
-- "Toys of Misery, A Report on the Toy Industry in China," report by the National Labor Committee, issued in December 2001, and available at www.nlcnet.org
-- "Bangladesh: Ending the Race to the Bottom" report by the National Labor Committee on factories in Bangladesh producing for over 20 universities and retailers such as Nike, available at www.nlcnet.org
-- "First Synthesis Report on the Working Conditions Situation in Cambodias Garment Sector," by the International Labor Organization monitors. The ILO is conducting comprehensive audits of 190 garment plants in Cambodia as part of the "Garment Sector Working Conditions Improvement Project" related to the US-Cambodia trade agreement. The report is available at: bravo.ilo.org/public/english/dialogue/cambodia.htm.
-- "Towards Participatory Workplace Appraisal: report from a Focus Group of Women Banana Workers" in Costa Rica, by Jem Bendell. The report is a critique of the code auditing methodology of the Social Accounting International (SAI) monitoring organization, is published by the progressive business school New Academy of Business. The New Academy will be issuing additional reports on Nicaraguan maquilas and Central American banana producers. The current report is available at www.new-academy.ac.uk
-- "How Hasbro, McDonalds, Mattel and Disney Manufacture Their Toys? Report on the Occupational Safety and Health Conditions of Toy Workers in Mainland China." By the Hong Kong Christian Industrial Committee (HKCIC). The report, issued in October 2001, is available at www.cic.org.hk
-- "Rethinking Health and Safety Issues in China," by Shek Ping Kwan and Chan Ka Wai of the Hong Kong Christian Industrial Committee (HKCIC), published in the August 2001 issue of CICs "Change" newsletter. The report is available at www.cic.org.hk
-- The European Centre for Health, Safety and the Environment (ECOHSE) held its inaugural conference in January 2000 and has published the papers presented there and at subsequent academic gatherings on its website. The ECOHSE has focused on codes of conduct, labor standard and enforcement in Central and Eastern Europe where US-based and European multinationals have established maquiladora-type plants in formerly Communist bloc countries. The reports and papers are available at www.gla.ac.uk/ecohse
-- Public Citizen and Friends of the Earth issued in September 2001 a comprehensive report entitled "NAFTA Chapter 11 Investor-to-State Case: Bankrupting Democracy, Lessons for Fast Track and the Free Trade Area of the Americas." The report is available at www.citizen.org.
-- The Washington, DC, Economic Policy Institute think tank issued in October 2001 a series of reports on globalization and trade: "The Unremarkable Record of Liberalized Trade," by Christian Weller, Robert Scott and Adam Hersh; "Fast Track to Lost Jobs," by Robert Scott; "Where the Jobs Arent," by Robert Scott; and "The Free Trade Magic Act" by Peter Dorman. The reports are available at www.epinet.org
-- Oxfam International has issued a series of reports in preparation for the November 2001 meeting of the World Trade Organizations (WTO) in Doha, Qatar. The reports include: Eight Broken Promises: Why the WTO isnt working for the worlds poor;" "Is the WTO serious about reducing world poverty? The Development Agenda for Doha;" "Open Letter on Institutional Reforms in the WTO (signed by six international non-governmental organizations);" "Harnessing Trade for Development;" and "Rigged trade and not much aid: how rich countries help to keep the Least Developed Countries poor." These reports and more are available at www.oxfaminternational.org
-- "Does Globalization Help the Poor? A special report by the International Forum on Globalization" with sections by Walden Bello, John Cavanagh, Martin Khor, Anurada Mittal, Vanda Shiva and others. Originally released in August 2001 and re-released in November. The report is available at: www.ifg.org
Return to TOP
-- The Hesperian Foundation, which is developing the Network-proposed health and safety manual for workers in the worlds "export processing zones" is looking for a Project Associate to assist Project Coordinator Maggie Robbins. The position, in Berkeley, CA, involves research and writing, coordination of field testing, managing student interns and maintaining links with occupational health professionals and community-based workers groups around the world. In early 2002, the first pilot test will be conducted with a model chapter on health and safety hazards in the garment industry. For more information, contact Maggie Robbins at email@example.com.
-- Coordinator Garrett Brown spoke on behalf of the Network at two events in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, in early November. Brown spoke at a dinner meeting of the Yukon-British Columbia Local Section of the American Industrial Hygiene Association, at the invitation of Section Chair Anya Keefe. Brown also spoke as part of a seminar series on environmental and occupational health at the University of British Columbia, at the invitation of Professor Karen Bartlett of the UBC School of Environmental and Occupational Hygiene.
-- Alarmed at the growing abuses of workers rights as textile, clothing and footwear companies engage in cut-throat competition driving down working conditions world-wide, the Brussels-based International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers Federation (ITGLWF) is set to establish an international register of "dirty companies." Companies appearing on the blacklist would be boycotted in an effort to drive the company from the industry. The ITGLWF has said that listing in the registry would be a "last resort," but noted that "extreme cases calls for extreme measures." The ITGLWF represents 225 affiliated organizations in 110 countries with a combined membership of 10 million workers.
-- Glenn McBride of "Mexican.laws.com" has begun a 12-part series on "How To Survive A Health and Safety Audit in Mexico" on his on-line newsletter. For information on the series and the newsletter, contact McBride at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.mexicanlaws.com.
-- Two important new cyber sources of news and information on issues related to globalization and the worlds maquiladora or export processing zone workforce are: www.TomPaine.com and www.alternet.org . Both websites offer reprinted articles from other publications around the English-speaking world, and their own original articles as well.
Return to TOP
QUOTES OF THE MONTH
"This is an effective way to reform prisoners. They get to use their minds productively and develop new skills."
-- Ignacio Cervantes Jimez, director of prisons in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas. Tamaulipas has signed an agreement allowing maquila operators to set up shop in its 13 state prisons. Jesus Vallejo Tamez of the Northwest Mexico Maquiladora Association calls the idea an "win-win" situation for prisoners and maquila operators. No word yet on which companies, reportedly five, have signed up for prison labor on the border.
"In the nations of the South, the deification of the market and the demonization of the forces of change have resulted in the concentration of wealth, the multiplication of poverty, and the devastation of nature. More than ever the countries of the Southern Hemisphere are submitted to the dictatorship of an international market. It is the dictatorship of the single word, the single image, the single tune, and perhaps its more dangerous than other dictatorships because it acts on a world scale. This is the challenge faced by the South: Either we convert ourselves into a sad caricature of the North, or we find the energy to generate an essentially different path."
-- Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano, interviewed in Utne Reader magazine (November-December 2001 issue).
Return to TOP
-- "Development in Mexico: As Established Policies Are Nurtured, the Hopes of Many Mexicans Wither on the Vice;" by Talli Nauman, Borderlines newsletter, Vol. 9, No. 9, October 2001.
-- "Border Labor War Defies Mexicos Fox Administration," by David Bacon, in the on-line Mexican Labor News and Analysis newsletter, Vol. 6, No. 9, November 2001, at www.ueinternational.org .
-- "Mexican Labor Protest Gets Results," (about the Kukdong workers) by Ginger Thompson, New York Times, October 8, 2001.
-- "New Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA): The Threat to Social Programs, Environmental Sustainability and Social Justice," by the International Forum on Globalization, available at: www.ifg.org
-- "When Prohibition Meets Free Trade: Wealth, Power and Intimidation in Mexico," by Julia Reynolds, NACLA Report on the Americas, Vol. 35, No 1, July/August 2001.
-- "The Zapatista Reader," edited by Tom Hayden, with Subcomandante Marcos, Eduardo Galeano, Gabriela Garcia Marquez, Jose Saramago, Naomi Klein and others, The Nation Books, 2001, available at www.nationbooks.org .
-- "Pro-Patria, Pro-Mundus: Its time to ask self-styled borderless corporations which side are you on?" by William Grieder, The Nation magazine, November 12, 2001.
-- "The Right and US Trade Law: Invalidating the 20th Century," by William Grieder, The Nation magazine, October 15, 2001.
-- "Sweatshop Police," by Robert J.S. Ross, The Nation magazine, September 3/10, 2001.
-- "Investment Dispute Settlement and Trade Adjustment Assistance Experience of Six Trade-Impacted Communities," by the General Accounting Office of the US Congress, August 2001, available at www.gao.gov
-- "North American Free Trade Agreement: U.S. Experience with Labor, Environment Side Agreements," by the General Accounting Office of the US Congress, July 2001, available at www.gao.gov.
-- "Migrating from Exploitation to Dignity, Immigrant Women Workers and the Struggle for Justice," interview with Miriam Ching Yoon Louie, Multinational Monitor magazine, October 2001.
-- "Thinking about the anti-sweatshop movement," by Jeffrey C. Issac and Liza Featherstone, Dissent magazine, Fall 2001.
-- "Sweatshop Warriors: Immigrant Workers Take on the Global Factory," by Miriam Ching Yoon Louis, South End Press, 2001, available at www.southend.com .
-- "Fast Track Passage Wont Defeat the Seattle Coalition," by Sarah Anderson and John Cavanagh of the Institute for Policy Studies, issued December 6, 2001 and posted at www.corpwatch.org
-- "Land Loss, Poverty and Hunger," by Anuradha Mittal of the International Forum on Globalization, issued on December 3, 2001 and posted at www.alternet.org
-- "ISO and the WTO: A Report to the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions Working Party on Health, Safety and the Environment," by Dave Bennett, in New Solutions, Volume 11, Number 2, 2001.
-- "Another World is Possible," by Jay Walljasper, part of a special section on globalization and the anti-globalization movement, including "The Ultimate Peace Movement," by Walljasper; "Pro-Local Revolutionaries," by Florence Williams; "Field Guide to Global Cooperation," by Leif Utne and Jill Seidenstein; all in the Utne Reader magazine, No. 108, November-December 2001.
-- "Crisis of conscience: Corporations are finding social responsibility boosts the planet and the bottom line," by Peter Sinton, San Francisco Chronicle, November 22, 2001.
-- "Global trade: Do-it-yourself Labor Standard While the WTO dickers, Companies are writing the rules," by Aaron Bernstein, Business Week magazine, November 19, 2001.
-- "Podium: Compliance Pays," by Jeffrey Hantover, Asiaweek magazine, November 16, 2001.
-- "The Meaning of Doha," by Walden Bello and Anuradha Mittal of Focus and the Global South, Food First and the International Forum on Globalization, issued on November 15, 2001 and posted at www.corpwatch.org
-- "The WTOs Hidden Agenda," by Gregory Palast of Corporate Watch and posted at www.corpowatch.org
-- "Trade piracy unmasked, Leaked British documents show how we stitch up the developing world at the WTO," The Guardian (London), November 6, 2001.
-- "Sweatshops 101," by Dara ORourke, Dollars & Sense magazine, September/October 2001.
-- Asian Labour Update magazine (Hong Kong), July-September 2001, including "Industrial Unrest in China," "China Union Election at KTS," "OSH Training Programme in Cambodia," available at www.amrc.org
-- "Bringing Codes Down to Earth," by Lynda Yanz and Bob Jeffcot, International Union Rights magazine, Vol. 3, No. 3, 2001.
-- "Against the Workers, How the IMF and World Bank policies undermine labor power and rights," by Vincent Lloyd and Robert Weissman, Multinational Monitor magazine, September 2001.
-- "Privatization Tidal Wave, IMF/World Bank water policies and the price paid by the poor," by Sara Grusky, Multinational Monitor magazine, September 2001.
-- "Can We Put an End to Sweatshops?" book by Archon Fung, Dara ORourke and Charles Sabel, Beacon Press, 2001, available at www.beacon.org
-- "10 Reasons to Abolish the IMF & World Bank," pamphlet by Kevin Danaher, Seven Stories Press, 2001, available at www.sevenstories.com
-- "Corporate Social Responsibility: Partners for Progress," book by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), OECD Washington Center, 2001, available at www.oecdwash.org
-- "International Trade and Core Labour Standards: Updating the OECD Analysis," book by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), OECD Washington Center, 2000, available at www.oecdwash.org
-- "Towards a Socially Sustainable World Economy, An analysis of the social pillars of globalization," by Raymond Torres, International Labor Organization (ILO) report, 2001, available at www.ilo.org/publns
-- "ICFTU 2001 Survey: 209 Trade Unionists assassinated worldwide last year," International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) report, 2001, available at www.icftu.org/survey2001.asp
-- "International Comparisons of Hourly Compensation for Production Workers," U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Standards report, 2001, available at www.bls.gov
Return to TOP
END OF NEWSLETTER - VOL. V, NO. 4 - December 9, 2001
BACK TO MHSSN HOME PAGE