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Exploited Labor: News & Updates

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Justice for Colombia is starting a new series spotlighting women activists. This first spotlight is on Olga Quintero, a leader in the Catatumbo Peasant Farmers Association (ASCAMCAT). ASCAMCAT has about 5,000 affiliated members and works to defend its members rights over land and territory and works to advance peace and justice in the region.
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April 9 2021—Today the U.S. federal government announced the results of the union election at Amazon’s Bessemer, Alabama, warehouse. The Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union (RWDSU) did not achieve a majority of the votes counted. However, the RWDSU has released a statement demanding “a comprehensive investigation over Amazon's behaviour in corrupting this election” and announced intention to file charges regarding the company’s egregious union busting.
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The high risks attached to labour organising in Colombia have once again been emphasised with the murder of yet another trade unionist, as the country remains by far the most dangerous in the world for those in the role. On Monday 29 March 2021, Carlos Vidal was shot dead while walking his dog near his home in Florida, Valle del Cauca. Carlos was the president of the SINTRACOS union for sugar industry workers and a member of the CGT trade union centre. He was also known for his community activism. Following on from at least 20 murders of trade unionists in 2020, the latest case is at least the fourth this year.
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According to payment vouchers for the current melon season for companies of Fyffes in Honduras, they are not paying the minimum wage which was decreed for the agriculture sector in 2020. In April 2020, International Labor Rights Forum, Fair World Project, and the International Union of Food Workers published a report alleging ongoing labour rights violations faced by 6,500 workers on Fyffes’ melon plantations in Honduras since 2016. Abuses detailed in the report include toxic chemical exposure, wage theft, union busting and poor working conditions made more unsafe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Fyffes is the top importer of melons to the United States, which are sold in major supermarkets across the country. In 2019, Costco and Whole Foods stopped buying Fyffes' Honduran melons due to the ongoing allegations.
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More than two months of a hunger strike have wreaked havoc on the health of Florenzi apparel factory workers, so they decided to break their strike and celebrate the progress in their case. For the Florenzi Women's Collective, it all began last July, when, after being dismissed without justification, they took over the factory where they assemble medical gowns and blouses. After the first month without eating solid food, workers were finally given an audience with El Salvador’s Minister of Labor, Rolando Castro. Then on March 10 they met with Judge Daisy Abrego, from the First Court of Labor Justice, to begin the process of investigating their claims. "We feel victorious. The strike is stopped, but the struggle and the taking of Florenzi we maintain," said José Rivas. He and co-worker Nuria Martínez maintained their hunger strike for 64 days. Workers say that although they have stopped the hunger strike, they will continue their struggle to ensure that their rights are met. Among other grievances, workers report that the company, Industrias Florenzi, did not pay four months of salary owed to the 210 employees, nor the legally required severance pay, vacation pay, or bonuses.
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Right-wing Central American politicians are applauding Plan Biden, a US strategy promising corporate investment in return for neoliberal reforms. They pledge to remain in the US “sphere of influence” and isolate China and Russia, while calling for regime change against Nicaragua’s leftist government. Grayzone editor Max Blumenthal investigated the extensive damage that Biden’s neoliberal policies have already wreaked on Central America, when he served as vice president and the point man for the region in the Barack Obama administration. Now that he is president, Biden is repurposing the Obama-era policies and expanding them.

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