Workers Striking at Uniqlo? 5 Big Labor Struggles Raging Across the World
Workers across the planet are fighting hard for fair wages, equitable contracts and better working conditions. However, many of these stories, whether positive or negative, tend to fall between the cracks of our mainstream media landscape.
Here are five current stories worth paying attention to.
1. Bike Light Workers Occupy Factory in Shenzhen: Workers at the Chinese bike light factory New An Lun Lamp have been on strike since the end of April demanding backpay. After they occupied the facility, and stopped production for two weeks, police raided the facility. The workers have not received the sick leave, maternity leave, work injury leave, or marriage leave to which they're entitled. They also claim bathrooms are locked during work hours, forcing over 70 women to share just eight stalls. The workers face firings and arrests for their strike and occupation. Read more about the situation at Labor Notes.
2. Workers at Strike at Uniqlo Supply Factory in China: Hundreds of employees at the Shenzhen Artigas Clothing & Leather factory are on strike after a number of firings led to fears that the operation was about to be shut down. Workers have occupied the factory to ensure that machines are not moved out of the facility. The factory produces clothes for the Japanese retail company Uniqlo, as well as for Armani, Banana Republic, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, and other popular brands. Radio Free Asia reports that 300 of the workers have been on a hunger strike since June 13. Read more about it at International Business Times.
3. Honduran Workers Just Won Unions at Three Plants: Up against the laws and restrictions of post-coup Honduras, 9,000 workers at the Gildan apparel factories in Choloma, San Pedro Sula and Villanueva have unionized. The organizing was done with Central General de Trabajadores Honduras (CGT) and its apparel federation FESITRATEMASH. The AFL-CIO's Solidarity Center website quotes Nahun Rodriguez, president of the SITRAGAVSA union at Gildan Villanueva: "With the organization of these unions we the workers now have a voice on the job and a mechanism to negotiate over the conditions of work at Gildan." Read the entire writeup here.
4. FairPoint Workers in Maine Win Benefits for the Time They Were on Strike: FairPoint Communications workers went on a four-month strike last year after the union was presented with over $700 million contract concessions. A new collective bargaining agreement was produced in February and the strike ended, but employees went without wages for that period. Now the Maine Bureau of Unemployment Compensation has ruled that the workers are entitled to unemployment compensation for the time that they missed. Workers in Vermont will also be able to obtain benefits, but New Hampshire employees have been told they will not. Read about the ruling here.
5. Germany Experiencing Huge Wave of Strikes: A number of strikes have rocked Germany lately, notably train conductors, postal workers and preschool teachers. Writing in Jacobin, Mark Bergfeld breaks down the incredible statistics: "So far this year, more than 350,000 days of work have been lost to strike action. That number was just 156,000 all of last year; in 2010 it was only was 28,000 days." Bergfeld wonders if the militancy will trickle down to low-wage workers. "This movement could be the beginning of something real if workers dare to break with the logic that has dominated official union politics in Germany for far too long," he writes. Read his entire breakdown of the strikes here.