Includes company responses, the latest jobs and events announcements.
• Declared a global emergency, the novel coronavirus impacts workers’ rights around the world as employers seek to protect business and supply chains.
• Migrant workers from Malaysia reportedly return home without owed wages as employers try to force them to stay.
• Employees of American Airlines concerned about unknown health threats file a USA lawsuit to halt flights to China; airline has stated it is “taking precautions”.
• Technology firms allegedly maintain manufacturing operations despite government calls for companies to halt work to stop coronavirus spread.
Collected news links from external sources related to topics concerning the Book Chain Project.
Inconsistent business action in response to Covid-19 (novel coronavirus), first reported from Wuhan, China
Includes company responses, the latest jobs and events announcements.
China: Investigation finds labour abuse & sexual harassment at toy factories producing for international brands; Includes company responses
In November 2019, labour rights NGO China Labour Watch (CLW) released a report raising allegations of labour abuses faced by workers at five factories producing for international toy brands in Guangdong Province, China. Abuses documented by CLW include low wages, excessive overtime, inadequate health and safety protections, poor living conditions in worker dormitories, restrictions to freedom of association, discrimination, sexual harassment and gender-based violence. Brand companies (including Disney, Lego, BuzzBee etc.) are taking actions.
- Labour & Environment
- Business and Human Rights
- China Labour Watch
- excessive overtime
- gender-based violence
- Guangdong Province
- inadequate health and safety protections
- Labour abuse
- labour abuse & sexual harassment
- labour rights NGO
- Low wages
- Poor living conditions
- restrictions to freedom of association
- sexual harassment
Premier Li Keqiang has signed a State Council decree to publish a regulation on guaranteeing payments of wages to rural migrant workers. The regulation requires market entities should take the lead under the supervision of government and society including labour unions, social medias etc. It states employers must pay employment wage in full and on time through bank transfers or cash. It also clarifies the responsibilities of employers for paying off arrears to migrant workers and corresponding legal account abilities for any breach of the regulation. This regulation will go into effect on 1st of May, 2020.
The US Customs Border Authority has banned the import of products from certain companies accused of modern slavery violations. The law came into effect in 2016 but this action shows that it can have teeth.
One of the five products/companies was a garment factory in Xinjiang, China, and another one a Malaysian rubber glove factory. The latter was accused of withholding wages, excessive recruitment fees and withholding of passports in a Guardian report back in December 2018 here.
India's top court instructed a garment firm to pay pensions to women who had worked for them from home in the 1990s. There are an estimated 37 million home-based workers across various sectors in India. Besides being denied minimum wages, home-workers get no social security or medical benefits from employers and have virtually no avenue to seek redress for abusive or unfair conditions. The new ruling could set a precedent, helping millions of "invisible" workers access staff benefits.
An investigation by the Thomson Reuters Foundation found that some workers at tea estates certified by Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade in Sri Lanka suffer from illegal wage deductions and take home as little as 14 U.S. cents a day. Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade said they were investigating as deducting wages without workers' consent was not allowed by law and contravened their standards. Unilever said it was "deeply concerned" and would investigate. Major tea company Tetley, owned by India's Tata Global Beverages, said it was in touch with the Rainforest Alliance regarding the findings.
The rise of robots in manufacturing in Southeast Asia is likely to fuel modern-day slavery as workers who end up unemployed due to automation face abuses competing for a shrinking pool of low-paid jobs in a “race to the bottom”. Especially, the workers in Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines — at least 137 million people — risk losing their jobs because of the automation in the next two decades. Those workers are more vulnerable to workplace abuses as they jostle for fewer jobs at lower wages.
A RM1.2 billion takeover has saved about 1,500 workers’ jobs at ailing India-owned pulp and paper mill Sabah Forest Industries Sdn Bhd, which was owned by India-based Ballarpur Industries Ltd previously. The takeover by Pelangi Prestasi Sdn Bhd entails the transfer of all SFI assets, land titles and timber licenses and is made possible by strong support of the Sabah state government. The takeover is targeted to be completed by end of this year. Pelangi Prestasi committed to retain all SFI workforce and undertake workers’ back-wages, providing training and support as well as enhance access to basic amenities. For the next five years, it will focus on sustainable development of the forest concession area to maximise value through integrated processing and diversification of products.
Invisible coercion through withheld wages, lack of employment contracts, and discrimination of migrant workers is widespread in China's construction sector. Wage arrears protests have been booming in the months leading up to the New Year on 16 February. Far from every protest gets violent, but when they do, losses are bigger than just the annual pay.
Forced labour among ordinary workers on China’s ordinary labour market receives vanishing little attention from the inter¬national community.
H&M is planning to have elected committees and proper pay structures for workers in its main supply factories across the world by 2018 in a bid to curb labour exploitation. By setting up these goals, the company is planning to work with its main suppliers to ensure wages for its 1.6 million garment workers are enough to afford a decent living and enable workers to raise their voices in a meaningful way with management by implementing capacity building programmes.
A new report revealed that children as young as 14 years old have been employed in garment factories in Myanmar supplying some of the most popular UK high street brands. Researchers also found overtime problem and wages below the full legal minimum at some of these factories. Brands have responded to the report findings, recognising the issues highlighted and promising to work with their suppliers on improvement.
A documentary to be broadcast in Sweden tonight will allege that for the past two years agents working for forestry companies SCA and Holmen have been recruiting migrant workers from Cameroon to plant trees. According to the investigation workers are paid wages far below those promised by the agents and have to pay hefty sign-on fees. After the planting season many of the workers remain in Sweden as undocumented immigrants.