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Decent work for all?

What does labour want?

SHARAN BURROW
International Trade Union Confederation

A major problem for workers, even in places where there is substantive country legislation, is the lack of an adequate remedy for when their rights are inevitably violated. Local supplying companies are unlikely to face accountability because administrative or judicial processes are too slow, weak or corrupt. At the same time, lead firms are usually immune from any legal accountability, since there is no cause of action or jurisdiction over them in either the host country or the home country. The ILO can and must fill this governance gap, both through the adoption of a new standard on global supply chains and through complementary measures that position the ILO at the centre of global industrial relations for the new century. Read on...

Global supply chains: time for a new deal?

JUDY GEARHART
International Labor Rights Forum

Decades of voluntary corporate social responsibility initiatives have failed to deliver living wages, safe factories, or effective protections for workers’ rights to organise and bargain collectively.

Interview: Promoting decent work in supply chains?

BENJAMIN SELWYN
University of Sussex

Governments, business leaders and labour unions are gathering to discuss decent work in global supply chains. We interview Sussex Lecturer Benjamin Selwyn about why this is so important.

Special rapporteur: bring labour rights and human rights together

MAINA KIAI and AMOL MEHRA
United Nations and Int. Corporate Accountability Roundtable

The state is the only force large enough to defend workers’ rights from big business, so why is it so often batting for the wrong team?

Decent work in a globalised world? Week one at the ILC 2016 and the supply chains dilemma

AINHOA BARRENECHEA
Focus on Labour Exploitation

Week one of ILC 2016 finished with workers and employers divided. What are the prospects for a convention on decent work in supply chains?

The ILO report on ‘decent work in global supply chains’ - much ado about nothing?

ANDREAS RÜHMKORF
University of Sheffield

The background report for the ILC 2016 raises important questions about supply chain responsibility, but does not provide enough answers.

SPOTLIGHT

How not to achieve a sustainable development goal

MIKE DOTTRIDGE
Former director of Anti-Slavery International

As long as we have separate interests and no one is thinking about the coherent architecture let alone the feasibility of achieving things, we have a disaster. Very specifically in 8.7, there's a lot of preoccupation from within the ILO, from within its workers representatives, on the child labor agenda. Yet it's so fatally flawed. A nice sounding concept was developed right back at the beginning of the century, which was that there could be a time-bound programme to eliminate either some forms of child labour or all forms of child labour. It was a nice idea but it wasn't well thought out. It fell at the first fence, and since then that fence keeps on being put up. By last year, 2016, we were supposed to have eradicated around 80 million child labourers in the worst forms of child labour, and have hardly touched it. Read on...

Struggling for workers' rights

JENNIFER ROSENBAUM
National Guestworker Alliance


The human rights of labourers

SHAWNA BADER-BLAU
Solidarity Center

Companies haven’t earned our trust when it comes to protecting workers’ rights, so why do states give them the benefit of doubt?

A need for new models

UMA RANI
International Labour Organisation


Voices from the supply chain: Ghana

SOLOMON KOTEI
Industrial and Commercial Workers Union

BTS speaks with Solomon Kotei of the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union of Ghana on the importance of organised labour in the global south.

In pursuit of decent work

SANJIV PANDITA
Solidar Suisse Hong Kong


The labour violations of Apple

NICKI LISA COLE and JENNY CHAN
IASSTS; University of Oxford

Reports from labor rights groups and researchers reveal troubling labor and environmental violations continue unabated.

FOCUS: Decent work in India

The social and political roots of exploitation in India

RAVI SRIVASTAVA
Jawaharlal Nehru University

What is it that allows severe labour rights abuses to flourish in India? The answer is more complicated than poverty alone.

Adivasis: modern-day slaves or modern-day workers?

ALF GUNVALD NILSEN
University of Bergen

India’s Adivasis are often described as ‘modern-day slaves’, but their unfreedom is both the fuel and product of modern Indian capitalism.

CSR should start with giving workers a fair wage

SINNATHAMBY PRITHVIRAJ
Care T.


Collective bargaining in the Global(ised) South

MOHAN MANI
Centre for Workers Management

Indian trade unions need activists all along the supply chain if they’re to take on multinationals.

Why roundabout solutions to forced labour don’t work

IGOR BOSC
Work in Freedom Programme, ILO


Regional organising and the struggle to set the Asia floor wage

ANANNYA BHATTACHARJEE
Asia Floor Wage Alliance

A global production system demands a global response from organised labour.

Informal, but organised: the 30-year success of SEWA

NALINI NAYAK
Self Employed Women's Association


Organising the unorganised labourers of India

GOPINATH K. PARAKUNI
Cividep India

When will the workers of India become sufficiently united to demand a change in terms?

No easy answers for ending forced labour in India

OPEN LETTER
 

India must attend to a long list of issues if it's to achieve 'decent work for all' by the year 2030. We detail 25 of them.

Portrait of an Indian labour activist

ANANNYA BHATTACHARJEE
Asia Floor Wage Alliance

From anti-imperial activism in the United States to garment sector organising in India, Anannya Bhattacharjee has spent a lot of time on the front lines.

The hidden injuries of caste: Indian tea workers and economic crisis

JAYASEELAN RAJ
London School of Economics and Political Science

Indian tea workers have been forced to re-engage with the caste hierarchy from which their ancestors attempted to escape.


The social and political exclusion of India’s internal circular migrants

INDRAJIT ROY
University of Oxford

Too often excluded from political representation and social protection, Indian ‘circular migrants’ need a better deal, argues Indrajit Roy.

The women strike back: the protest of Pembillai Orumai tea workers

JAYASEELAN RAJ
London School of Economics and Political Science

Underclass women plantation workers in Kerala, India went on strike against both their union and their company, scoring symbolic and material gains.


The World Bank and Assam’s tea plantations

FRANCESCA FERUGLIO and ANIRUDHA NAGAR
Nazdeek and Accountability Counsel

A World Bank investigation into rights violations of tea plantation workers in Assam represents an incredible achievement for communities.

Will ‘decent work’ or brutality mark India’s dash for the top?

JONATHAN PATTENDEN
University of East Anglia

While the government attempts to weaken labour regulations, the organisation of India’s many million informal labourers is likely to gather pace.


Forced labour under a changing climate in semi-arid India

MARCUS TAYLOR
Queen’s University

Climatic change compounds the vulnerabilities and dependencies existing between households in semi-arid South Asia.

DEBATE: Human trafficking awareness campaigns

Each year, on January 11, the world marks Human Trafficking Awareness Day – one of the many ways that the cause of fighting human trafficking gets promoted. Is that a good thing? We asked 10 people who work with human trafficking awareness a simple question: 'Campaigns to raise public awareness of human trafficking may have flaws, but their overall impact is positive. YES OR NO?' This is what they answered.

Respondents

Anne Elizabeth Moore (NO)
Author of Threadbare: Clothes, Sex & Trafficking

Katherine Chon (YES)
Director of the Office on Trafficking in Persons, US Dept. of Health and Human Services

Joanna Ewart-James (YES)
Advocacy Director at Walk Free

David Feingold (NO)
Director of the Ophidian Research Institute

Matthew Friedman (YES)
CEO for The Mekong Club

Zoe Trodd (NO)
University of Nottingham

Cris Sardina (NO)
Director of Desiree Alliance

Marilyn Murray (YES)
Creative Director at Love146

Sameera Hafiz (NO)
Advocacy Director at the National Domestic Workers Alliance

Ima Matul (YES)
Survivor of Human Trafficking


Replies

Borislav Gerasimov (NO)
Advocacy Officer at Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women

Jamison Liang (YES)
Digital Programme Officer at IOM X

Kelli Lynn Johnson (NO)
Associate Professor, Miami University Hamilton

Dina Haynes (NO)
Professor, New England Law|Boston

Tryon P. Woods & P. Khalil Saucier (NO)
Assistant Professor, University of Massachusetts; Associate Professor, Rhode Island College

Lyndsey P. Beutin (NO)
Doctoral candidate, University of Pennsylvania

With support from Brown University's Center for the Study of Slavery & Justice and Yale University’s Gilder Lehrman Center.

Introduction: do the hidden costs outweigh the practical benefits of human trafficking awareness campaigns?

Campaigners, activists and government officials spend much of their time and energy crafting messages that are designed to win specific audiences over to their cause. The main goal behind these messages is to ‘raise awareness’ of specific problems or issues, and to offer target audiences with potential solutions or remedies. Drawing upon modern marketing techniques, these public awareness campaigns take increasingly diverse forms, including lectures and talks, symbolic displays of solidarity, documentaries and movies, public performances, and social media initiatives.

Some awareness campaigns are targeted at specific audiences, such as making workers aware of their legal rights and available resources. Others are much more general. The basic idea behind all these campaigns is to inspire both individuals and institutions to ‘do something’ (there is even a campaign called DoSomething.org). While taking action against injustice is undoubtedly a laudable impulse, the ‘something’ in question is by no means as straightforward as it might first appear.

One now well-established line of critique concerns the uncertain connection between information and action. Too many campaigns against trafficking echo the logic of ‘trickle down’ economics, wherein awareness is assumed to translate into effective action. But the actual mechanics of this process of translation are rarely spelt out in any detail, or subjected to scrutiny using social science research techniques. Raising awareness may well capture headlines, but how much of the energy invested leads to concrete results?

Another common line of critique concerns the problems inherent in sensationalism, voyeurism, and distortion. The primary argument here is that too many of the images, statistics, and stories that feature in awareness campaigns are simplistic, misleading and inappropriate, and thereby offer audiences an inaccurate and unhelpful picture of the key issues associated with human trafficking. Thus while awareness campaigns may well reach large audiences, are they teaching their audiences the right things? Read on...

Universal basic income

My own private basic income

KARL WIDERQUIST
Georgetown University

One person’s experience becoming a business owner shows how our economy is based on luck rather than merit and how it rewards people who own stuff rather than people who do stuff. Read on...

Listen to a recorded audio version of this article.

Basic income’s third wave

KARL WIDERQUIST
Georgetown University

The 100-year-old movement toward a basic income has gotten stronger each time inequality has returned to the public discussion.

Basic income and modern slavery

NEIL HOWARD
University of Antwerp

Unconditional basic income has more emancipatory potential than any other single policy because it targets economic vulnerability.

Could India support a basic income?

SARATH DAVALA
India Network for Basic Income

After a successful pilot project in Madhya Pradesh the India Network for Basic Income is setting its sights higher.

Cameron Thibos

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