The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions has demanded that U.S. toy companies take responsibility for unsafe working conditions in overseas factories that produce their toys. ICFTU General Secretary Bill Jordan challenged major toy companies to sign a code of conduct guaranteeing that their products will not be produced under sweatshop conditions.
"Workers in these factories, 90 percent of whom are women, generally work for woefully inadequate wages, 10 hours a day six or seven days a week, in factories where basic health and safety procedures are rarely enforced," said Jordan. "Toy workers deserve more than this."
Kwon Young-kil, president of the newly formed Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, has been arrested on charges of "third-party intervention" in an industrial dispute, days after his umbrella labor body was formed.
In letters to Korean President Kim Young-sam, Charles D. Gray, director of the AFL-CIO International Affairs Department, and Bill Jordan, ICFTU general secretary, called for Kwon's release, as well as for allowing the formation of new labor groups, with their rights to freedom of assembly and expression guaranteed.
"It is particularly disappointing that the first civilian government after two decades of military rule continues to harass and arrest democratic trade unionists t and does so using undemocratic, military-era labor laws that were designed to deny the rights of Korean workers," Gray said in calling for expedited labor-law reform.
Vietnam continues to violate international standards for worker rights and should be denied access to programs sponsored by the Overseas Private Investment Corp., labor and human rights groups say. OPIC is supposed to limit incentives for U.S. investors to countries in the process of adopting and implementing such standards.
"Workers in Vietnam have no freedom of association, no right to collective bargaining and no effective right to strike," said AFL-CIO chief economist Rudy Oswald during a Dec. 18 hearing. "The absence of these rights, the possibility of continued forced labor and the non-ratification of international instruments make Vietnam ineligible for OPIC benefits."
Vietnamese law and practice ensure domination by a "state-run trade union monopoly," added Pharis J. Harvey, executive director of the International Labor Rights Fund.
Provided by the AFL-CIO Information Department.