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Thank you to Eric Dolan at Raw Story for bringing attention to this. 100 years after the Triangle Shirtwaist fire which I wrote about here, we're still seeing these abusive conditions in sweatshops around the world. We got rid of them here and just outsourced our slavery so we didn't have to look at it.
As the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire approaches, the Institute for Global Labor and Human Rights urged the United States to pass legislation to prevent multi-national corporations from violating internationally recognized worker rights standards, such as no child or forced labor, decent working conditions, freedom of association and the right to organize a union.
The Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire resulted in the death of 146 female workers, who were locked inside the factory by their managers, on March 25, 1911. The women worked 6 days a week, often 14 hours shifts, and earned the meager wage of 14 cents an hour. (The equivalent of $3.18 an hour in 2011, adjusted for inflation.)
After the death of workers in a Bangladesh sweatshop, the Institute for Global Labor and Human Rights said now was the time to hold corporations accountable to respect labor laws and pass the Decent Working Conditions and Fair Competition Act.
The Decent Working Conditions and Fair Competition Act was introduced by a bipartisan group of senators in 2007, but never made it out of House and Senate committees. The bill would have prohibited the import, export, and sale of goods made with sweatshop labor.
More there on how we failed to get any legislation through the Congress here in the US to put a stop to this, so go read the rest of the article. And as he referred to in his article, here's more from the Institute for Global Labor and Human Rights.
Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights Releases Explosive New Video and Report for the 100th Anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire
NEW YORK and PITTSBURGH, March 23, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire in New York City on March 25, 1911, workers in the developing world continue to die needlessly in sweatshops with locked exits.
Just three months shy of the 100th anniversary of the Triangle fire, on December 14, 2010, a fire broke out at the Hameem factory in Bangladesh, which was sewing garments for Gap. The fire alarms did not go off, and the emergency exits were locked on the 9th floor, killing 29 workers-many of whom jumped to their deaths-and injuring over 100. At Hameem, the workers toil 12 to 14 hours a day, seven days a week, with just a single day off a month. The highest wage at Hameem is 28 cents an hour--less than one-tenth of what the Triangle workers earned 100 years ago! (Adjusted for inflation, the 14 centsan hour they earned in 1911 is worth $3.18 an hour today.) The garment workers in Bangladesh are trapped in misery, living in makeshift hovels.
Just months before the tragic fire, Triangle workers had led a strike movement to organize garment workers in New York City-and ultimately been beaten back by their own factory's management. In Hameem too, management busted a union organizing drive in September 2008, imprisoning the union president and firing all 19 of the lead activists. It did not matter that well over half of the workers supported the union's demands.
When the workers in Bangladesh took to the streets in July 2010 demanding a 35-cent-an-hour wage, they were beaten with clubs. The police shot rubber bullets and used power water cannons to sweep the workers off their feet. There was dye in the water so that demonstrating workers could be identified and imprisoned later.
We are at a cross roads. We can stand back and allow corporations to drive this Race to the Bottom, exploiting sweatshop workers across the developing world, as wages and benefits are also cut for working Americans. Or, we can fight back, and hold corporations accountable to respect local labor and minimum wage laws and the core internationally recognized worker rights standards-no child labor, no forced labor, freedom of association, the right to organize and bargain collectively. The choice is ours.
And here's more from their site where they did a side by side analysis of the similarities between the fire at Triangle 100 years ago and the fire in Savar, Bangladesh that just occurred in December of last year.
On the 100th Anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire
Little Has Changed in the Global Sweatshop Economy