On Monday, the Bangladesh Parliament approved a new law aimed at expanded worker rights, especially in the garment industry. The law grants factory workers the right to unionize, as well as requires insurance for factory workers.
An important part of this law is that workers in the factory do not need approval from the factory owners for trade union, which previously was a major barrier to labor rights. In addition, all structure changes to factories must be approved by governmental inspectors before beginning construction. The law also requires that 5% of annual profits be deposited in employee welfare funds.
Many lawmakers hailed the legislations as a major advancement. The head of the parliamentary sub-committee on labor issues, Israfal Alam, told reporters "the new laws are historic." However, labor leaders are reluctant to praise the measures just yet. Labor leader Wajedul Islam told reporters "We had raised some concerns. We hope they have addressed those issues. Otherwise this legislation will be a futile exercise." The president of the Workers Party of Bangladesh and a member of parliament, Rashed Khan Menon, said "They have made progress but the government rushed with it. They should have spent more time to deliberate on the issue of compensation for the injured and dead, maternity benefits and rights of domestic workers."
The legislation comes after Bangladesh received international scrutiny in the wake of a garment factory collapse that killed over 1,000 workers, mostly women. Approximately 80% of the garment factory workforce in Bangladesh are women who are often responsible for providing for their families. Under grueling working conditions, workers in garment factories can make as little as $26 a month. Last month, President Obama revoked trade privileges with Bangladesh, citing the poor working conditions in factories.
Media Resources: Al Jazeera 7/15/2013; Reuters 7/15/2013; Feminist Newswire 5/10/2013, 5/9/2013
7/27/2015 Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Blocked Efforts to Defund Planned Parenthood - An attempt in the Senate to defund Planned Parenthood by Mike Lee (R-UT) was blocked this weekend by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Lee tried to attach the elimination of federal funds for Planned Parenthood to a vote for highway legislation, a move which was rejected by McConnell as out of order.
Republican legislators have redoubled their efforts to block funding for Planned Parenthood since the release of two heavily edited clandestine videos of different PPFA employees taken without their knowledge. . . .
7/24/2015 Katherine Spillar Urges Cleveland to Dramatically Increase Hiring of Women Police to Mitigate Police Violence - In a well-received speech at the City Club of Cleveland today, Katherine Spillar, Executive Director of the Feminist Majority Foundation urged Cleveland city officials to dramatically increase the hiring of women police officers as a way to decrease police brutality incidents.
Following a number of high profile police killings in Cleveland of African Americans, and an eight-month investigation by the US Attorney's office of the Northern District of Ohio, the City of Cleveland has now entered into a Consent Decree that requires numerous reforms in how the city oversees and investigates police operations, including training in use of force.
"Among the most important reforms mandated by the consent decree - and the most easily overlooked - are the changes the Cleveland Division of Police must make in its recruitment and hiring practices,
said Spillar. . . .