Worker's Rights

anonymous asked:

This is probably a stupid question, but what are the main differences between the Liberals and the NDP? Love your blog, btw :)

Compare them for yourself here:

NDP Platform

Liberal Party Platform

Essentially NDP is more left wing, has more of a focus on social services, workers rights, social issues (LGBT/Feminism/etc), has a good footing on the environment, etc

The Liberals do some of that, but because they’re a centrist party they also cater to the right, and share some policies with Stephen Harper and his party.

I personally can’t stand the Liberals, especially the Liberals as they exist now but make up your own mind.

28134) I just started a new job at a restaurant and it’s so triggering to be around food all day. My co-workers are all eating right next to me, wondering why I never get food for myself. Meanwhile, I’m ready to faint and throw up bile from running around so much and always having an empty stomach.

Cambodian workers on hunger strike against Walmart & H&M
February 28, 2013

Self-organized garment workers at a Walmart and H&M supplier factory in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, have been camping in front of their shuttered factory for almost two months to prevent their bosses from taking out the sewing machinery.

Now the workers have escalated to blocking roads, and will launch a hunger strike February 27—all to push Walmart and H&M to pay them the back wages they are owed. Their cause is drawing support from workers at another Walmart subcontractor on the other side of the world.

“We decided to go on hunger strike to show that we not just any workers,” said one of the leaders, Sorn Sothy, 26, who works in the warehousing part of the Cambodian factory. “We are strong, committed, and united.”

The workers were informed in September that their factory, Kingsland Garment Co., Ltd., would temporarily close until January. Under Cambodian labor law, they would be paid 50 percent of their wages during this time, and brought back to work in January.

But in December, the paychecks stopped coming. The company union told the workers that the company was bankrupt and the owner had fled the country.

The garment workers are owed around $200,000 collectively—less than what Walmart makes in profits every six minutes.

Since their boss-run union wouldn’t fight back, 200 workers organized themselves and began protesting outside the factory gates January 1. In the middle of the night January 3, they noticed company staff attempting to remove the sewing machines from the factory.

“We decided to start sleeping outside of the factory to prevent management from taking the machinery out,” said Yorn Sok Leng, 30, who has worked at the factory for two years.

With the help of a worker center, the Community Legal Education Centre (CLEC), the workers occupied the outside of the factory—setting up tarps, a sleeping area, and a kitchen.

Flying Squads

Walmart and H&M have agreed to come to Cambodia to meet with them March 1, but the garment workers are continuing to find new ways to hold the brands’ feet to the fire. In the days leading up to their meeting, in addition to the hunger strike, they plan “flying squad” roadblocks, a tactic they have borrowed from workers at another shuttered factory.

They staged their first roadblock February 24 in grassroots fashion—only calling to invite allies from the worker center the night before the demonstration.

Many of the people who were delayed by the two-hour roadblock knew about the garment workers’ fight, and actually cheered them on.

In an email to the CLEC, Walmart and H&M have claimed they ended their relationships with Kingsland Garment in September, and had “paid in full,” so they had no responsibility for what happened to the workers afterwards.

Workers aren’t buying it. “The owner ran away. It is Walmart and H&M that made the profits off of our work, so they are the ones that need to pay,” said Oun Buy, 33, who has worked at the factory for 10 years.

It’s a familiar problem: multinational corporations use layers of subcontractors to duck responsibility.

Walmart in particular is notorious for failing to enforce its own rules. Its supplier standards make it responsible for contractors’ behavior, but instead of forcing improvements, when a factory is caught in violations, it is easiest for Walmart to cut and run—firing the contractor and leaving workers with nothing.

Supply Chain Solidarity

The International Ladies Garment Workers Union dealt with this problem in the U.S. in the early 20th century by developing jobber’s agreements, which made the “jobber”—in today’s terms, the brand—responsible for wages and conditions in factories producing their garments. Such agreements, won with strikes and other militant actions, are widely credited with ending sweatshop conditions in the U.S. garment industry.

But brands eventually found a way to circumvent these agreements: moving production to the non-union South—and then, with globalization, overseas, to countries where labor laws and enforcement are weaker, and where union leaders are physically attacked, threatened, and even assassinated.

Although the race to the bottom in labor standards has hurt garment workers around the world, many in the U.S. accepted the line that Cambodian (or Chinese or Bengali) workers were taking “our” jobs. Cross-border solidarity in the Walmart supply chain offers a seed of hope that this perception can change.

“We’re thankful to the Walmart warehouse workers,” said Poung Phirum, 23. “The Americans who are supporting us work for Walmart, just like us.”

Workers at an Illinois warehouse, who load and unload garments and other Walmart products 14 hours a day, plan to show their support for the Cambodian workers with a demonstration at a Walmart store.

The Illinois group, organizing with the worker center Warehouse Workers for Justice, won health and safety improvements after a 21-day strike last fall. Others at Walmart-subcontracted warehouses are organizing with workers centers in California (Warehouse Workers United) and New Jersey (New Labor).

“We are all in the same fight, whether in Cambodia, Bangladesh, America, Mexico, or anywhere else,” said Mike Compton, one of the Illinois strikers. “It’s time for [Walmart] to take responsibility for conditions in the factories, warehouse, stores, and everything else in their supply chain.”



The city of Kanpur lies on the banks of the Ganges River in northern India. It has become one of the most important cities in India as its leather industry has grown.

First established in the mid-19th century, Kanpur is now the country’s biggest producer of leather products. Its leather is exported across the world, with 95 percent of its output destined for Western markets including those in the US, UK and Germany.

The success comes at great environmental and social cost. Pollution from the tanneries is destroying the ecology of the local Ganges River and scarring residents in the form of life-threatening illnesses.

The city is now notorious for having some of the country’s worst water pollution problems yet the tannery industry continues to discharge waste water laced with toxic chemicals, such as chromium, freely into local waterways.

This water is channeled onto local farmland, poisoning the soil, entering the food chain and accumulating in local ecosystems. At greatest risk are the people who work in the tanneries and farmers who work daily with the toxic and highly acidic water.

Local residents suffer an array of health troubles, a result of the bioaccumulation of dangerous toxins over decades. Health problems include cancers, mental illness, child development issues and skin diseases.

View more of Pulitzer Center grantee Sean Gallagher’s work through his project: “Toxic Development: The Cost of Pollution in India

Happy Labor Day! Lets celebrate this holiday by thinking and talking about all of the important work done in the labor movement and standing in solidarity with those still fighting for these basic human rights!

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Thousands of protesters took the ‘Fight for 15′ right to McDonald’s doorstep 

Thousands of protesters, workers and organized labor activists swarmed McDonald’s corporate headquarters outside Chicago on Thursday, the latest action in their increasingly public demands for higher wages from the fast food giant. 

Before new CEO Steve Easterbrook could address shareholders for their annual meeting, demonstrators delivered a petition — signed by more than 1.4 million people.


Santa’s real workshop: the town in China that makes the world’s Christmas decorations
December 26, 2014

There’s red on the ceiling and red on the floor, red dripping from the window sills and red globules splattered across the walls. It looks like the artist Anish Kapoor has been let loose with his wax cannon again. But this, in fact, is what the making of Christmas looks like; this is the very heart of the real Santa’s workshop – thousands of miles from the North Pole, in the Chinese city of Yiwu.

Our yuletide myth-making might like to imagine that Christmas is made by rosy-cheeked elves hammering away in a snow-bound log cabin somewhere in the Arctic Circle. But it’s not. The likelihood is that most of those baubles, tinsel and flashing LED lights you’ve draped liberally around your house came from Yiwu, 300km south of Shanghai – where there’s not a (real) pine tree nor (natural) snowflake in sight.

Christened “China’s Christmas village”, Yiwu is home to 600 factories that collectively churn out over 60% of all the world’s Christmas decorations and accessories, from glowing fibre-optic trees to felt Santa hats. The “elves” that staff these factories are mainly migrant labourers, working 12 hours a day for a maximum of £200 to £300 a month – and it turns out they’re not entirely sure what Christmas is.

“Maybe it’s like [Chinese] New Year for foreigners,” says 19-year-old Wei, a worker who came to Yiwu from rural Guizhou province this year, speaking to Chinese news agency Sina. Together with his father, he works long days in the red-splattered lair, taking polystyrene snowflakes, dipping them in a bath of glue, then putting them in a powder-coating machine until they turn red – and making 5,000 of the things every day.

In the process, the two of them end up dusted from head to toe in fine crimson powder. His dad wears a Santa hat (not for the festive spirit, he says, but to stop his hair from turning red) and they both get through at least 10 face masks a day, trying not to breathe in the dust. It’s a tiring job and they probably won’t do it again next year: once they’ve earned enough money for Wei to get married, they plan on returning home to Guizhou and hopefully never seeing a vat of red powder again.

Packaged up in plastic bags, their gleaming red snowflakes hang alongside a wealth of other festive paraphernalia across town in the Yiwu International Trade Market, aka China Commodity City, a 4m sq m wonder-world of plastic tat. It is a pound shop paradise, a sprawling trade show of everything in the world that you don’t need and yet may, at some irrational moment, feel compelled to buy. There are whole streets in the labyrinthine complex devoted to artificial flowers and inflatable toys, then come umbrellas and anoraks, plastic buckets and clocks. It is a heaving multistorey monument to global consumption, as if the contents of all the world’s landfill sites had been dug-up, re-formed and meticulously catalogued back into 62,000 booths.

The complex was declared by the UN to be the “largest small commodity wholesale market in the world” and the scale of the operation necessitates a kind of urban plan, with this festival of commerce organised into five different districts. District Two is where Christmas can be found.

There are corridors lined with nothing but tinsel, streets throbbing with competing LED light shows, stockings of every size, plastic Christmas trees in blue and yellow and fluorescent pink, plastic pine cones in gold and silver. Some of it seems lost in translation: there are sheep in Santa hats and tartan-embroidered reindeer, and of course lots of that inexplicable Chinese staple, Father Christmas playing the saxophone.

It might look like a wondrous bounty, but the market’s glory days seem to have passed: it’s now losing out to internet giants like Alibaba and Made In China. On Alibaba alone, you can order 1.4m different Christmas decorations to be delivered to your door at the touch of a button. Yiwu market, by comparison, stocks a mere 400,000 products.

Aiming at the lower end of the market, Yiwu’s sales thrived during the recession, as the world shopped for cut-price festive fun, but international sales are down this year. Still, according to Cai Qingliang, vice chairman of the Yiwu Christmas Products Industry Association, domestic appetite is on the rise, as China embraces the annual festival of Mammon. Santa Claus, says the Economist, is now better known to most Chinese people than Jesus.

The beaming sales reps of Yiwu market couldn’t sound happier with their life sentence of eternal Christmastime. According to Cheng Yaping, co-founder of the Boyang Craft Factory, who runs a stall decked out like a miniature winter wonderland: “Sitting here every day, being able to look at all these beautiful decorations, is really great for your mood.”

It’s somehow unlikely that those on the other end of the production line, consigned to dipping snowflakes in red-swamped workshops for us to pick up at the checkout for 99p, feel quite the same way.