ATTAC/CADTM

Rabat, Morocco

ATTAC/CADTM Morocco (The Association for Taxation of Transactions and for Citizen Action/Committee for the abolition of Illegitimate Debt in Morocco) is an action-orientated, grassroots movement focused on popular education. They run educational projects on a range of issues including debt, microcredits, extractivism, workers’ rights and trade justice. They also organise spaces for critical discussion on the neocolonial influence of governments and financial institutions based in the global North. ATTAC/CADTM is part of the global network – ATTAC – which is active in 40 countries, with over a thousand local groups and hundreds of organisations supporting the network.

Morocco is a profoundly unequal society. A small elite inhabit and profit from a world of golf courses, villas and beach side resorts while much of the population lives in poverty. More than three decades of neoliberal economic restructuring and deregulation in Morocco has heavily impacted small-holder farming. Structural Adjustment Programmes imposed in the 1980s have transformed how the country produces food – many small-scale farmers have been dispossessed of their land and many have become vulnerable to price fluctuations on the market for staple foods. The result of the imposition of neoliberal economic policies on the country has been a deeply unequal society with elites living in absolute luxury and the poor having no food to eat.

ATTAC Morocco activists are deeply engaged with community struggles around food sovereignty, the impacts of globalisation and campaigning for the cancellation of the national debt. They help communities defend themselves against the erosion of workers’ rights and privatisation in public services and energy provision.

War on Want has supported ATTAC Morocco to host regional activist gatherings like the alternative conference to the COP22 climate summit in 2016, and, in December 2017, a gathering of activists from across the region to share learning and work together on trade justice and food sovereignty. We are also collaborating with them on an action-research project focused on food sovereignty.

Tunisian Observatory of Economy (TOE)

Tunis, Tunisia

The Tunisian Observatory of Economy (TOE) is a collective of young researchers and activists working on economic and environmental justice.

Following the Tunisian uprising in 2011, TOE began to raise awareness about the impoverishing and undemocratic role of international financial institutions in an attempt to shift the development model of Tunisia. From an informal network of young people analysing debt issues and campaigning for a debt audit, TOE has evolved into an organisation able to  advocate to institutional financial institutions to change their practice. TOE's experience has been strengthened by the various campaigns it has launched since it started, like the campaign for a public debt audit, and one on the stand-by agreement with the IMF in 2012. Since then, the organisation was officially established in December 2013.

TOE’s vision is of a democratic economy. Their work is focused on research and advocacy, educational workshops and the promotion of critical discussion and dialogue on economic justice issues. They work to demystify economics and challenge the notion that the economy is ‘too complicated’ for most people to understand. By doing so they help empower people to debate and influence policy at the local and national level.

War on Want is supporting TOE's project to expose the exploitation of shale gas in southern Tunisia by the Anglo-French company, Perenco. The purpose of the project is to document the political, economic, social and environmental impacts of fracking in the region of Douz. We are also working with them on a research-action project on food sovereignty in Tunisia.

Worker Empowerment (WE)

Hong Kong

Worker Empowerment (WE) is a grassroots labour organisation that has developed a community approach to engaging migrants working in industrial zones in mainland China. Based in Hong Kong, WE focuses on promoting awareness amongst workers of labour rights in a number of Chinese provinces. They organise training, cultural activities and provide practical advice and support.

Labour conditions in China have gone through significant changes over the last five years under the background of China’s rapid recovery from the 2008 global economic crisis. This crisis significantly influenced working conditions and access to jobs, with the closure or relocation of factories. It was estimated that 15% cent of China’s migrant workers, about 20 million, lost their jobs or failed to work in early 2009, since business laid off workers to reduce costs. Many migrant workers have had to return to rural areas, suffering from occupational diseases and lack of local institutional support, with few skills for rural livelihoods.

War on Want supports WE’s migrant worker centre in mainland China, which hosts educational and social activities for workers and organises an outreach program to engage workers in industrial areas. This program covers a range of issues, such as women’s rights, labour rights, how to calculate wages and how to better understand entitlements on hours and benefits.

WE has been successfully raising awareness amongst migrant workers about their labour and human rights at work, and existing pathways toward achieving decent work and improving labour conditions. This success is rooted in the work undertaken by the migrant workers’ centre at the grassroots level, where over 105,000 migrant workers have received training, legal support, outreach and education through collective cases. This is particularly significant because they are the only organisation providing these services for migrant workers in the region.

Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM)

Hong Kong

Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior is a labour-rights NGO based in Hong Kong. They emerged in 2005 in response to the injustice of corporations benefiting from the exploitation of cheap labour and the culture of corporate impunity fuelling labour abuses in mainland China.

SACOM has made rigorous research the cornerstone of their work. They have exposed the disconnect between what has been written in Chinese labour laws, the commitment to conditions made by fashion brands and the reality of working conditions in factories. Working with a close network of researchers willing to pose as factory workers for weeks at a time, SACOM has been able to document the reality for workers in factories. War on Want and SACOM have collectively published reports such as Breathless for Blue Jeans and This Way to Dystopia: Exposing UNIQLO’s Abuse of Chinese Garment Workers. The launch of This Way to Dystopia was accompanied by a speaker tour across the UK to raise awareness and increase engagement of people in the UK with an understanding of international supply chains.

Together within a global coalition, our campaign against Japanese fashion giant UNIQLO has significantly improved working conditions at factories in China, Cambodia, and Indonesia. War on Want and SACOM also partner to raise awareness of the labour abuses in factories producing for Apple, and most recently exposed the exploitation of student interns to produce the new iPhone X.

SACOM’s work has led to significant improvements in the factory conditions for workers in the supply chains of these companies. In the process of holding high profile, targeted campaigns, SACOM has also educated consumers on the social costs of purchasing popular products made in China.

The Movement for National Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR)

Rajagiriya, Sri Lanka

The Movement for National Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR) is building a people's movement for food sovereignty by mobilising and supporting small farmers and marginalised communities to: protect natural resources and human rights; lobby those in power for positive change; and implement alternative food production policies that are sustainable and just.

Founded in 1990, MONLAR was formed as a network of grassroots farmer’s groups alongside NGOs and progressive organisations in other sectors. They emerged following the devastating effects of neoliberal reforms that took place in the 1970s and 1980s. Efforts to integrate Sri Lanka into the globalised economy caused an unprecedented increase in rural poverty, a breakdown in rural small-farmer agriculture, malnutrition among children, a high rate of anaemia among mothers, low birth weight babies, a large increase in income disparities and loss of livelihoods. Today, Sri Lanka is experiencing another wave of neoliberal reforms that is having a detrimental impact on small scale farmers and workers on tea plantations.

War on Want has been supporting MONLAR’s efforts to give voice to rural communities and campaigns for agricultural and land policies that protect them. The movement also helps to improve the self-reliance of local communities through sustainable agriculture, teaching agro-ecology and seed conservation. War on Want is currently collaborating with MONLAR on a land rights project that will involve groundbreaking new research, campaigns and international solidarity work between allies in the global South.

Free Trade Zones and General Services Employees Union (FTZGSEU)

Colombo, Sri Lanka

FTZGSEU has worked across Sri Lanka’s 14 free trade zones for the past 30 years, drawing international attention to the way free trade zones have eroded rights for workers across the globe. In Sri Lanka, reduced regulatory frameworks and minimal labour rights mostly affect women working in the garment industry. Workers face unattainable production targets that increase day by day, and the monthly wage in factories inside and outside the Free Trade Zones is about £28.

War on Want and FTZGSEU have been working in partnership for more than ten years. Together we have implemented projects focusing on the promotion of workers’ rights and on securing safe workplaces for garment workers in free trade zones. Most recently, War on Want has supported FTZGSEU’s opening of the first union office in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka, supporting Tamil women in the factory areas to learn more about their rights and collective organising.

FTZGSEU have played a leading role in creating new policy on GSP+ through direct engagement with both the EU and the ILO. This has led to unprecedented achievements with regard to the EU’s policy and protections for labour rights monitoring linked to trade policy, which will impact all countries with GSP+ arrangements with the EU in a move that has been widely celebrated. The union has been instrumental in signing collective bargaining agreements in the country and winning compensation for workers who have fought for their rights at the bottom of the garment supply chain. War on Want has been privileged to stand alongside FTZGSEU organisers as they won monumental increases in wages and as they work steadily towards achieving a living wage.

Act Now! PNG

Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

Act Now! PNG is a small, community advocacy organisation that helps people to make their voices heard. They use the internet, social networking and community engagement to highlight critical issues affecting Papua New Guinea, such as land grabs, corruption, poverty, and corporate impunity. Act Now! also provides a critical pathway for voices of indigenous people across the country to be heard in the formulation of practical, realistic solutions, in line with the existing constitution and laws of the country.

Papua New Guinea has been formally independent since 1975. Land is the most important resource for the peoples of PNG. Most of the land, around 85%, is held communally. All native people have an inalienable right by birth to use and enjoy their traditional lands. In spite of this, the PNG Government’s development policies see customary land as a fundamental impediment to development and economic growth, and a steady stream of policies have worked to privatise land. In just a decade, over 12% of its pristine rainforests have been acquired by foreign companies who have logged enormous amounts of land under the guise of ‘sustainable’ palm oil agriculture.

War on Want works with Act Now! to document and raise awareness around the human impacts of land grabs. With limited access to information about land policy and the rights of affected communities, this project has already proved to be an enormous success. We are currently working together to expose the role of foreign companies in illegally acquiring land under the guise of sustainable palm oil.

NGOMA

Eldoret, Kenya

NGOMA mobilises farmers to defend their rights in Kenya and the wider East-Africa region. Organised in groups at village level, NGOMA emerged as a way for family farmers to come together, lobby and advocate for better agricultural policies to protect small-scale producers.

NGOMA is short for Ng’ombe na Mahindi, which refers to dairy and maize in Swahili. These products dominate the Rift Valley, a vast region in the west of Kenya considered as the food basket of the country. The livelihoods of over one million farmers depend on it, yet most are unable to make a living and feed their family.

As a result of trade liberalisation in the 1990’s, farmers were forced them to adopt the costly and intensive practices of industrial agriculture. Practices like mono-cropping, the use of commercial seed, chemical pesticides and fertilisers have contributed to environmental degradation, water loss and soil erosion as well as driving a generation of small farmers into a cycle of poverty and hunger.  

In recent years, NGOMA farmers have resisted by reverting to native maize seeds with incredible results: not only do native varieties mature three month earlier, enabling two harvests in one year, but also they are more nutritious, more resistant to local pests and diseases and require less water. With the government now planning to lift the ban on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and commercialise them, NGOMA is preparing to campaign against the approval and import of GM seeds and raise awareness about the negative social and environmental impacts. With support from War on Want, they are now mobilising farmers to demand food sovereignty in Kenya.

Malawian Union For the Informal Sector (MUFIS)

Blantyre, Malawi

Malawi’s informal sector workers range from street vendors, market vendors, rubbish collectors, home workers, to work in numerous other unregulated jobs. They provide society with vital services and make significant contributions to the economy of Malawi. Despite the large number of Malawians engaged in informal work, there is no legal recognition of their right to trade. Many informal traders face harassment, discrimination and violence on a daily basis at the hands of local authorities and police. This affects their ability to trade freely and earn a decent living. Most informal sector workers earn below the poverty data line. As the situation in Malawi becomes increasingly dire, families are making risky choices to ensure the livelihoods of their households. This includes withdrawing their children from school and using their labour to support livelihood income.

Malawian Union For the Informal Sector (MUFIS) is a national network of 6,500 informal traders across Malawi. Most of its members are women, organising street vendors, hawkers, marketers, artisans, small veranda (khondes) businesses, informal cross-border traders and smallholder tea farmers.

Founded in 2000, MUFIS now supports members to fight for their rights: the right to trade freely, the right not to be evicted or harassed by police and the right to better working conditions including designated trading space with access to basic services.

War on Want is currently working with MUFIS to build a sustained intervention to address the economic and social conditions that compel parents to involve their children in economic activities. The project will increase the number of children moving into education from work in the informal sector. It does this by raising awareness of the rights of children (particularly their right to education), raising awareness of the rights of informal traders to trade freely and building the capacity of informal traders to trade more effectively, thereby increasing household income without the use of child labour.

Kenyan National Alliance of Street vendors and Informal Traders (KENASVIT)

Nakuru, Kenya

Kenyan National Alliance of Street vendors and Informal Traders (KENASVIT) is a national organisation of 10,000 workers in the informal economy. This includes street vendors and informal traders, of whom 70% are women and 20% have disabilities. It organises with and empowers informal workers to improve their livelihoods and well-being through gaining legal recognition.

KENASVIT works to raise awareness of the rights of informal traders while engaging in advocacy work with national government, county officials and local authorities for better living and working conditions and rights-based awareness raising for members. They have also led a successful national campaign to develop legislation that recognises and protects the rights of informal traders, making Kenya the first sub-Saharan country to do so. KENASVIT also works with urban alliances to set up self-financing groups that support small businesses.

War on Want is currently working with KENASVIT to get the Kenyan government to implement legislation protecting the rights of informal traders to trade freely, to access government loans and to have safe spaces to raise grievances. In addition, we are supporting KENASVIT’s attempts to gain representation on the County level urban planning boards to enable them to be part of decision making processes on securing safe and visible spaces for informal traders.

KENASVIT has successfully developed a governance and accountability mechanism at district levels where government officials are invited to Q&A forums in which informal traders are given the opportunity to hold government to account for promises made to traders.de freely, making Kenya the first sub-Saharan country to do so.

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