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September 2016 E-News

New ILRF Report: Financing Forced Labor

Coinciding with the UN General Assembly opening its 71st session, ILRF released a report by our Senior Legal & Policy Analyst, Andy Shen, detailing one of the most egregious examples of World Bank-supported human rights abuse in recent memory. The report finds that the World Bank is committing a serious violation of international law by knowingly providing agricultural loans to the government of Uzbekistan that are used to sustain its state-orchestrated system of forced labor in the cotton sector. Check out Andy’s op-ed in The Huffington Post and openDemocracy, and the Sputnik article covering the report.

Photo by Uzbek-German Forum for Human Rights

How Will Uzbekistan Change After Karimov?

Uzbekistan’s President for the past 27 years, Islam Karimov, died earlier this month just as students and public service workers are pushed to join the cotton harvest under threat of losing their jobs or place at the university. Emerging leaders in Uzbekistan have an opportunity to now engage constructively with the international community and build on recent developments to finally end the Uzbek government's reliance on forced labor in the country’s cotton sector. The Cotton Campaign, of which ILRF is a founding member, is calling on Acting President Shavkat Mirziyoyev to take 7 actions to end cotton crimes as the country charts its new path. Follow the campaign on twitter at @cottoncampaign for regular updates and click here to sign ILRF's petition to Uzbekistan's new leadership.


ILRF Project: Stop Trafficking by Sea

In recent years, global efforts to stop Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing have accelerated, with the Port State Measures Agreement entering into effect this year. At the third annual Our Ocean Conference last week, ILRF participated in the side event on labor trafficking in the fishing industry. ILRF's new project Stop Trafficking by Sea, supported by USAID’s Supply Unchained initiative and the blue moon fund, will explore ways to harness vessel tracking technology to assess and reduce human trafficking risks in the Thai fishing industry.

CC.2.0 flickr / seadave

ILRF Responds to Latest Factory Fire in Bangladesh

At least 34 workers died in the September 10 fire at Tampaco Foils Ltd, which made snack-food packaging for Nestlé and cigarette packs for British American Tobacco. In our joint statement, covered by The Wall Street Journal, we raise critical questions for these companies. While there has been major progress in improving fire and building safety in garment factories in Bangladesh, especially at the 1,600 factories covered by the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety, none of the safety initiatives in the garment sector cover the issue of boiler safety. Accord standards concerning fire safety address the spread of a fire caused by a boiler explosion, but they do not address the prevention of such explosions – and, in an explosion the size of the one at Tampaco Foils, limiting the spread of fire will not be enough to protect life and limb. This is a major issue that the Accord, all other building safety initiatives in Bangladesh, and the Bangladesh government must address.

Tampaco Foils fire

Ali Enterprises Survivors and Families Receive Compensation

After 4 years of campaigning and months of negotiations, German discount chain KiK finally paid a total of $5.9 million to the injured workers and the families of the 260 workers who died in the Ali Enterprises factory fire on September 11, 2012.  Social insurance schemes in Pakistan and the factory owners provided another $700,000. This is the third in a line of compensation agreements negotiated by the labor movement following large-scale disasters in the garment industry.

Ali Enterprises 4th anniversary - photo by National Trade Union Federation of Pakistan

PepsiCo, Indofood Linked to Exploitation

An independent report has again found that labor violations are rife in the palm oil plantations owned and operated by global food giant PepsiCo’s joint venture partner Indofood. Indofood is the sole producer of PepsiCo-branded snack food in Indonesia and one of the largest palm oil growers in the world. This report comes on the heels of “The Human Cost of Conflict Palm Oil: Indofood, PepsiCo’s Hidden Link to Worker Exploitation in Indonesia,” a June 2016 report by ILRF, Rainforest Action Network, and Indonesian labor rights advocacy organization OPPUK, which first exposed PepsiCo joint venture partner Indofood’s labor rights violations. Accreditation Services International (ASI), the accreditation body to the palm oil industry’s certification scheme Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), carried out an assessment of RSPO-certified Gunung Malayu, an Indofood palm oil mill and supply base.

Photo from RAN-ILRF-OPPUK report

Rock Against the TPP Concert Series

More and more people are learning about the anti-democratic Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement and are taking action to stop the TPP, thanks in part to the Rock Against the TPP roadshow, which is cosponsored by ILRF and over 30 other organizations. The next concert will be in Boston on October 7th – please send all your friends in Boston here for free tickets. The tour has been producing some great videos along the way – make sure to check out this one and share widely.  If you’re in the US, please call your Congressperson to ask them to publicly oppose TPP before the “lame duck” session of Congress after the election. 

Peruvian worker demonstration

Meet the New ILRF Staff

ILRF is delighted to welcome three new staff to our team. Kirill Boychenko is the Coordinator of the Cotton Campaign, a global coalition to end forced labor of children and adults in the Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan cotton sectors. Sarah Newell started recently as Campaigns Associate and would like to request that if you're reading this, you follow @ILRF on Twitter. Jesús Arzola Vega recently joined as Development & Executive Assistant and brings new artistic talent to our team.

Honduran melon workers




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