Friday, July 03, 2009

Well,well, well, it seems like it's gonna end up as 'Honduras Week' here at Molly's Blog. I plan to publish more info later about the coup d'etat whose purpose is to keep "Honduras just as happy as she has been in the past". Just as a little reminder of just how glorious a job the Honduran ruling class has made of its country I submit the following personal memory. I've only met one Honduran in my life. That individual was grateful beyond measure that the wife and I escorted her back to her room at the (admittedly sleazy-sleazy enough to earn that sobriquet from a Russian) hotel that we were both staying at in Prague. Yeah, there was indeed a detox centre on the top two floors, but "threatening"- hardly. The reason for her paranoia ? Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world, at 154.02 per 100,00 population (in Winnipeg terms this would mean 1001 murders per year, a number that we here in what is often the murder capital of Canada would be astonished at). Christ Almighty !!!! If there was no other reason to change the social setup in the uunfortunate country of Honduras this would be an overwhelming one. The ousted President of Honduras was making some very minor moves to correct this and many other problems. How happy Honduras has been in the past !!!!! Not so bad if you can hire ten goons with automatic rifles for bodyguards I guess.
This social disintegration is built upon a foundation of vicious exploitation. The following is from the Maquila Solidarity Network, and its subject is a matter that Molly has touched upon before on this blog, the workers of Jerzees de Honduras. The exploitation of the Honduran working class is the social and economic basis upon which the horrible danger of everyday life in that country is built. This is so gross that even a corporate creation such as the 'Fair Labor Association' has seen fit to censure one of its members- see below. Quite frankly this takes a lot.
Russell Athletic placed under Special Review over labour rights concerns:
On June 25th 2009, the Fair Labor Association (FLA) put its member company Russell Athletic on Special Review for 90 days. The FLA's Special Review process requires the company to perform specific actions to address violations of workers' freedom of association related to the closure of the Jerzees de Honduras (JDH) factory. This is only the second time in the FLA's history that a member company has been placed on Special Review. If Russell fails to complete the required steps in 90 days their FLA membership may be revoked.

Russell Athletic has been under fire for months for failing to remedy damage done to the JDH workers, the workers CGT union, and their right to freedom of association when they closed the JDH factory earlier this year. While Russell Athletic insists that their only motivation for the closure was economic, two independent investigations have concluded that anti-union bias was in fact a significant factor in the decision to close the JDH factory.

In February, the FLA Board asked Russell to undertake an initial series of steps, only some of which have been addressed by the company. Recently, new violations of freedom of association - including the establishment of "collective pacts" (akin to company unions) in the company's remaining Honduran facilities - have been detailed in a new report issued by the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC).

The FLA cited Russell Athletic's "failure to engage in good faith negotiations with the CGT union on issues like compensation for terminated employees, a meaningful first-hire policy and reasonable access for unions to company factories." The FLA further noted that "the existence of 'collective pacts,' no matter their motivation, has the effect of undermining efforts by independent unions to organize workers. These circumstances have led to a high level of distrust among workers and other stakeholders of Russell's commitment to freedom of association."

In order to have the Special Review lifted, Russell Athletic must, amongst other things, engage in good faith negotiations with the CGT union regarding further compensation and benefits for all JDH workers, an effective first-hire policy, and reasonable access of union organizers to employees. The company must also negotiate measures with CGT to ensure the removal of any obstacles to freedom of association, including those posed by collective pacts (pactos colectivos), without depriving workers of existing benefits.

Russell is also being asked to engage with relevant stakeholders including FLA member universities, the WRC, the Clean Clothes Campaign and MSN.
Read the FLA Board's full Resolution and related documents
Read the WRC's latest reports on Russell Athletic and freedom of association in Honduras
Background on the JDH struggle
How you can help

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