News

Honduran women lead milestone meeting on workers’ rights

8 June 2009 - 2:24pm

<p><strong>On the anniversary of the International Day of Action for Women's Health, Codemuh, a Honduran women's collective and War on Want partner organisation, brought together women from across Central America for a forum on workplace health and safety. Laia Blanch, War on Want Programmes Office, and Clare Hawkes of Prospect, visited Honduras for this historic meeting.</strong></p>

<p><img src="/images/stories/sweatshops_and_plantations/honduras_labour_meeting.jpg" width="560" height="362" /></p>

<p>Over 80 delegates from six Central American countries recently gathered in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, for the International Forum of Work and Health, a landmark meeting that addressed health and safety in the workplace. The meeting, which was jointly organised by <a href="index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=14276:women-factory-workers-in-honduras&catid=241:sweatshops-and-plantations-programme&Itemid=127">Codemuh</a> and the Secretary of Work and Social Security, has raised public awareness of the severe danger that sweatshop conditions pose to workers' health.</p>

<p>After two days of roundtable discussion, the delegates agreed on the need to create a national occupational health policy based on more robust safety provisions and enforcement mechanisms. For its part, government authorities agreed to work closely with Codemuh to strengthen the country's labour law, which remains out of date and has not led to improvements in factory conditions. Reform legislation is currently being reviewed by the Supreme Court, after which it will be passed on to National Congress. This piece of legislation was submitted by Codemuh in March 2008.</p>

<p>The government's willingness to work alongside civil society groups like Codemuh marks an important step towards full recognition of workers' rights in Honduras. There are currently 229 sweatshops in Honduras, which employ over 130,000 workers, the majority of whom are women. War on Want is proud to work alongside Codemuh as it campaigns for justice for workers in Honduras.</p>

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The struggles of ordinary Malawians for a place in the city

19 May 2009 - 3:38pm

While Madonna's controversial adoption attempts have put the small and landlocked African nation in the global spotlight, the struggles of ordinary Malawians for economic survival have received much less attention. As Malawians go to the polls today, street vendors are faced with the dilemma of whether to take seriously the promises made by opposition politicians.

Two Palestinian protestors still imprisoned

18 May 2009 - 4:32pm

Two Palestinian activists who had been marking Workers' Day on 1 May by demonstrating in Ma'sara against the Separation Wall are being held in detention by the Israeli authorities.

Losing Jobs: The real impact of the Economic Crisis

18 May 2009 - 12:00am

» Original article in eGov Monitor

The world is facing economic crisis on a scale unseen for 80 years and now fears about the impact on the ‘real' economy appear to be coming true.

War on Want protests UK visit by hard-line Israeli Foreign Minister

13 May 2009 - 4:56pm

War on Want joined an emergency protest today outside Downing Street to mark the first visit to the UK by newly elected Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

Lieberman is known for living in Nokdim, an illegal settlement south-east of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank. The right-wing politician has made dangerous statements about the Palestinian people and continuously undermines their sovereignty and self determination. He was visiting London as part of a European tour to drum up political support for the upgrading of Israel's economic relations with the European Union and met with British Foreign Secretary David Miliband.

War on Want was demonstrating to put pressure on the British government to take action over Israel's war crimes and send a strong signal to Lieberman that Israel's blockade of Gaza must end immediately. We also called on the British government to reject any upgrading of EU/Israel relations whilst Israel continues its illegal occupation of Palestine.

The protest was called by Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Jews for Justice for Palestinians, British Muslim Initiative, Stop the War Coalition, CND, Palestinian Forum in Britain and was supported by War on Want.

South African shack dwellers challenge Slums Act in court

13 May 2009 - 3:48pm

As South Africa prepares for the 2010 Soccer World Cup, the government has made plans to develop ‘World Class Cities' by eliminating the ‘slums' which are home to millions. This week our partner organisation Abahlali baseMjondolo is set go before the Constitutional Court to challenge the Slums Act, a law that will displace thousands from their homes.

In November 2008 Abahlali baseMjondolo (ABM, literally ‘people living in shacks'), a Durban-based shack dweller movement and War on Want partner organisation, applied to the Durban High Court in order to challenge the constitutionality of the Elimination and Prevention of Re-Emergence of Slums Act. This Act, which was introduced by the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government in 2007, is expected to lead to a large number of evictions of shack dwellers from their homes to temporary housing in so-called ‘transit camps'. These camps are often located far away from vital services and job opportunities, and many lack decent water and sanitation facilities.

ABM challenges the slums act

Watch a video of ABM members explaining the impact of the Slums Act on their community.

While the government refers to the camps as ‘temporary', many shack dwellers fear that they will be stuck in ‘government shacks' for years. Organisations such as ABM are campaigning for an upgrading of existing shack settlements and for the right of shack dwellers to a place in the city and against being dumped on the outskirts of urban areas in ‘transit camps'.

Despite the organisation's efforts to contest the constitutionality of the Slums Act, the Durban High Court dismissed ABM's application in January 2009, arguing that the Slums Act would make "things more orderly in this province" and that "the Act must be given a chance to show off its potential to help deal with problems of slums and slum conditions". The court outcome was a big blow to poor shack dwellers in KwaZulu-Natal Province whose livelihoods in many ways depend on living near to their places of work. Workers who have been moved to the camps are forced to spend the vast bulk of their income on transport.

In order to protect the right to a place in the city, ABM has now taken the Slums Act to the Constitutional Court. On the eve of the court challenge on Thursday 14 May 2009, War on Want supports ABM's fight for shack dwellers' right to the city and its struggle for the safety, dignity and equality of the poor.

South African Diary: Attending a workers' meeting

10 May 2009 - 9:00am

In the late afternoon we headed towards a farm where a workers' meeting was being held. It was almost 7:30pm when we arrived at the unheated community hall, where about 30 workers had gathered. Union or community meetings are typically over lunch or in the evenings outside of work hours and must be authorised by the farm owner.

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