Sunday, April 20, 2014

Taking On the Fashion Industry

by David L. Wilson, MRZine
April 19, 2014

Tansy E. Hoskins. Stitched Up: The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion. Pluto Press, 2014. 254 pages.

To say that Tansy E. Hoskins' Stitched Up deconstructs the garment industry would be a misrepresentation. What the British activist and journalist does is more like a controlled demolition, using facts and footnotes to strip away the apparel trade's decorative exterior and then to dynamite the foundations.

Hoskins' polemic begins with the title. In British usage "to stitch up" is "to swindle, to overcharge exorbitantly," according to the Oxford English Dictionary, and Hoskins' goal is to show the many ways that fashion swindles us all. Through its own media outlets and its billions of dollars in advertising, the industry creates a glittery illusion of beauty and sophistication. The reality is a $1.5 trillion industry as grimy and profit-driven as any, and the glossy pages of Vogue conceal a record of human and environmental damage we might expect from coal mining or oil drilling. [...]

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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Wage Hike in Haiti Doesn’t Address Factory Abuses

By Jane Regan, IPS
December 3, 2013

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Dec 3 2013 (IPS) - Haiti’s minimum wage will nudge up 12 percent on Jan. 1, from 4.65 to 5.23 dollars (or 200 to 225 gourdes) per day. Calculated hourly, it will go from 58 to 65 cents, before taxes.

But the raise will not affect Haiti’s 30,000 assembly factory workers, who are supposed to already be receiving about seven dollars for an eight-hour day – about 87 cents per hour. Recent studies have found rampant wage theft at almost two dozen of the factories that stitch clothing for companies like Gap and Walmart.[...]

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Saturday, November 23, 2013

U.S. Retailers Decline to Aid Factory Victims in Bangladesh

By Steven Greenhouse, New York Times
November 22, 2013

One year after the Tazreen factory fire in Bangladesh, many retailers that sold garments produced there or inside the Rana Plaza building that collapsed last spring are refusing to join an effort to compensate the families of the more than 1,200 workers who died in those disasters.

The International Labor Organization is working with Bangladeshi officials, labor groups and several retailers to create ambitious compensation funds to assist not just the families of the dead, but also more than 1,800 workers who were injured, some of them still hospitalized. [...]

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Friday, November 22, 2013

The challenges of reforestation

By Ayiti Kale Je/Haiti Grassroots Watch
November 19, 2013

Doucet (Petit-Goâve), HAITI, 19 November 2013 – Reforestation and soil conservation programs costing many hundreds of thousands of dollars in the Petit-Goâve region have resulted in hundreds of small ledges built of straw or sacks of earth. Eight to ten months later, in certain areas the earthworks seem to be lasting. But in many others, these little “shelves” have disintegrated.

The construction and destruction of the anti-erosion ledges – all made with development assistance and humanitarian donations – offer an example of how at least some of Haiti’s reforestations projects turn out. In some cases, at least, they could be considered vicious circles. [...]

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Fight For 15 Confidential

How did the biggest-ever mobilization of fast-food workers come about, and what is its endgame?

By Arun Gupta, In These Times
November 11, 2013

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU)-backed campaign to organize fast-food workers nationwide is on a roll. It’s entering its second year in the public eye, having staged four one-day strikes, culminating in a 60-city walkout on August 29. It’s a bold move by one of the nation’s largest unions to organize an unorganized private-sector workforce numbering in the millions.[...]

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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Stand With Haitian Workers for a Living Wage!

On November 29th, after years of delay and wage theft, a minimum wage increase will be announced in
Haiti. Batay Ouvriye (Workers' Struggle), an autonomous workers' organization, is mobilizing around the country to demand an increase to 500 gourdes (approximately $11.50)--the minimum for a family to survive.

The current minimum wage is only 300 gourdes (85 cents/hour), and even that is not being paid by the factories. Most receive only 200 gourdes (57 cents/hour).

Batay Ouvriye is mobilizing around the country for workers to voice their demands, what they say they actually need for a minimum wage. This takes money to travel, print thousands of flyers, host trainings and protests.

The US-based organization One Struggle has set up an indiegogo campaign to raise $3,200 to help pay for the mobilization in Haiti. To learn more and to contribute, go to:

For more information on the minimum wage situation, go to:

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Queens 'Carwasheros' Strike to Demand Owner Recognize Union

By Stephanie West, Labor Press
October 29, 2013

New York, NY – Workers at Off-Broadway Car Wash in Queens walked off the job today to demand that the owner recognize the union. The owner has been ducking the efforts of the National Labor Relations Board to set up an election despite a government subpoena being issued.

The “carwasheros” left their posts at 42-08 80th St. in Elmhurst, at 8:30 a.m., soon after clergy, elected officials, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), community supporters and advocates from New York Communities for Change and Make the Road New York held a press conference denouncing the owner for ignoring federal regulators. [...]

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