It is this sort of grassroots organizing that packs a heavyweight punch in the fight for workplace safety.
A year ago, on November 24, 2012, the garment industry’s dirty little safety secret was thrust into the global spotlight: 112 people jumped to their deaths or were burned alive in a fire inside an apparel factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Most were women and girls who worked inside the factory; 1800 more were injured. A follow-up report in the Wall Street Journal in December showed that clothing bearing the Wal-Mart brand Faded Glory was found in the factory after the fire. This suggests the factory had been making clothes destined for the retail giant even after a 2011 safety inspection carried out for a Wal-Mart supplier showed that “exits and stairwells at the factory were blocked, workers were unaware of evacuation routes and the factory lacked some firefighting equipment.” Though it has tried to distance itself from the facility, a WalMart spokesperson had to admit that controlling safety conditions for workers throughout the supply chain was “a challenge.” But now, garment workers are speaking out to demand that their workplaces be made safer.
“Shootings aren’t nearly as common now, as the criminals know how to use the criminal justice system against their victims. But then again, who wants to end up in a Russian prison?”
When you hear the phrase “real estate” you don’t commonly think “thriller plot.” Yet in Moscow, where prices are high, lawlessness in the private sector is rife, and the police are frequently too overwhelmed to pay any attention to what’s going on in the property market, any real estate deal could potentially land one in a situation more akin to an episode of “Law & Order.”
In order to discuss just how bizarre the so-called real estate scene around here truly is, I sat down with a glamorous woman whom I’ll call Alina – she is a real estate agent and, as she says it herself, “one of the good guys.”
What’s needed here is an insistence that the government raise the minimum wage to a living wage.
For low-income people in the US, life is often a paycheque-to-paycheque existence, focused on eking out as much as possible from each measly handout from an employer. With the federal minimum wage set artificially low when contrasted with inflation and the cost of living, low-wage workers have recently entered a state of revolt, as evidenced by the ‘can’t survive on $7.25′ cries issuing from the mouths of striking workers across the United States. The fast food industry in particular has been a labour target, given the traditionally low wages on offer paired with the grueling work—food service workers have historically occupied a low place in US society, and their low wages are a striking reinforcement of that.
Last Tuesday, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras announced that Hellenic Radio and Television (ERT)—Greece’s only public television and radio station, and national equivalent to the BBC—would be shut down, taking with it more than 2,600 public sector jobs and, though [...]
Last Tuesday, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras announced that Hellenic Radio and Television (ERT)—Greece’s only public television and radio station, and national equivalent to the BBC—would be shut down, taking with it more than 2,600 public sector jobs and, though the ERT was far from free and uncensored, one of the last semblances of democracy in Greece. Although it seemed too extreme to be true, at 11 PM on Tuesday night, the broadcast went dark and 2,650 journalists, technicians, and artists were out of a job.
The question here wasn’t if the building was going to collapse, but when, and how many workers would be trapped when it did.
Today marks International Workers’ Day, and many marches, actions, and activities around the world as most of the globe’s workers and families celebrate labour and fair rights for workers. (The glaring exception being, of course, the US, which observes a separate Labour Day in September rather than joining in with May Day celebrations.) Tremendous strides have been made in the field of labour rights in the last century, but in other ways, it seems like workers are stuck on a treadmill, unable to progress much further from where they were in 1913, or 1863, for that matter.
The raw sentimentality in all of these spots speaks to a country of people living in fearful, restless times who want some kind of reassurance that the American Empire is not yet dead
Last night marked one of the biggest annual sporting events in the US, a collection of glitz and glamour on the gridiron. This year’s event had some additional fireworks in the form of a halftime show by Beyoncé that brought down the house and a 35 minute power outage in New Orleans’ Superdome that attracted more attention than the prolonged infrastructure problems New Orleans is still experiencing in a post-Katrina world, let alone the post-Sandy damage the East Coast is still recovering from. Let us ponder, for a moment, the absurd grossness involved in the expenditure of vast sums of money by organisers and attendees for the Super Bowl when many communities in the region still lack basic needs.
Downton presents a world in which some people are in service and others are not, and this is an entirely appropriate and even desirable inequality, one that makes the world right and good.
With the release of Downton Abbey in the US comes a new tide of commentary about the British drama, which seems to be captivating audiences on both sides of the pond in addition to ushering a new era of class dramas on television. Upstairs, Downstairs has been revived while Boardwalk Empire plays with similar themes in the US, and Ripper Street takes US viewers to Whitechapel during a notorious era this weekend. Amongst all that nostalgia for a bygone age come some fascinating social attitudes, as Veronica Horwell discusses in a superb piece for Le Monde Diplomatique exploring the British obsession with class dramas.
Where is the rage, here? Where is the justice? And why is the US still relying on charity to provide critically needed services?
The time of year has come for the general population to be reminded that homeless people, disabled children, and other people who have ‘fallen on hard times’ exist. Bell-ringers torment shoppers in urban areas with their demands for money, heart-warming stories fill the newspaper, and shelters suddenly swell with volunteers eager to do their duty by the less fortunate. It is the time for holiday charity, for a warm bath of pity porn, to be followed by a return to normal after the tree has been taken down and the wrapping paper bundled up and taken to the recycling along with the boxes from everyone’s electronic toys and cheap plastic goodies.
Could sustained direct action begin to match or eclipse the influence that uber-rich donors like the Waltons and the Kochs exert on politicians?
The New York Times recently published two of the year’s most important stories. For those who were too distracted by Hurricane Sandy or election activities to read them, allow me to sum up:
This was an election about the economy, but not in the sense that many seemed to think. This was an election about austerity.
With the reelection of President Barack Obama on Tuesday night along with the election and in some cases reelection of a number of notable women including Tammy Duckworth, Elizabeth Warren, Claire McCaskill, and Maggie Hassan, the US electorate displayed quite a split in sentiment about the direction of the nation. A nation struggling in the depths of an economic meltdown expressed intense dissatisfaction with both major Presidential candidates—the President actually lost vote share from 2008, which is unusual—while still sending a message that it was fed up with the tone of politics in the US.
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