Monday, June 1, 2009

EYFA NETWORK NEWS! May 2009 on Trade&Labour


EYFA newsletter is a tool to spread information on campaigns, actions, meetings and convergence
happening around Europe and beyond. Info is forwarded to our network e-list and to network partners and contacts.

Please send us info <> if you have news to be spread.

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.on Trade&Labour

Our April newsletter will catch up with you soon, we chose a rather big
topic and we're still working on it! In the meantime, here's the May

As the financial crisis continues, more and more big businesses have an
'excuse' to cut corners by hiring underpaid labour, or laying off
workers without honouring their basic rights. In reality, rather than
being a setback for the big companies, the crisis seems to be speeding
up the wheels of corporate capitalism by offering an increasingly
consumerist society cheaper goods in exchange for consumers turning a
blind eye to ethical standards. With frustrated workers all over Europe
marching in solidarity on May 1, we introduce our May newsletter .on



*1. May Day "We won't pay for the bankers" - France

*2. Exploitation and fear

*3. How to cut transport costs and still benefit from cheap labour –
Primark, UK

*4. Materials – Textile and Wood

*5. Other links


*1. May Day "We won't pay for the bankers" - France

In the third protest of this kind in France in 2009, around 65,000
workers marched through Paris on May 1, with an estimated one million
taking to the streets throughout the whole of France, to show their
disgust with the French governments handling of the economic crisis.
This year, one million more French people are likely find themselves
unemployed, or with pay or time cuts, while the wealthy continue to
receive large bonuses and financial advantages (e.g. tax-caps) from the
system. This was mirrored in other parts of Europe, for example Germany,
Greece, and Turkey, amongst others.


*2. Exploitation and fear tactics

Trafficking, usually associated with sex and prostitution, has since
also become the tool of companies needing cheap labour. However, both
native and immigrant employees are increasingly being denied union
rights and being forced into dangerous or illegal labour practices in
the strive for lower retail prices. With no union and/or contract,
companies can save money on insurances, proper safety equipment and
legal salaries for workers, whilst making them work longer hours and in
worse conditions.

Workers for a factory in Turkey, which produces items for many
well-known western European companies (most of them reputed for their
unbelievably cheap prices), are currently fighting their case, supported
by the Clean Clothes Campaign. Union representatives have been
repeatedly forced out, leaving remaining workers even more worried for
their jobs, in turn allowing companies to take even more advantage of
their welfare. In a factory where people have died by falling into
machinery, with others sent in afterwards to retrieve the body, an IKEA
investigation found 'no major problems'. Support the Turkish workers by
following the instructions on the Clean Clothes Campaign website (link


*3. How to cut transport costs and still benefit from cheap labour –
Primark, UK

UK Clothes retailer Primark have apparently managed to reduce their
transportation costs by sourcing their labour from a TNS factory based
in Manchester, where workers sewed clothes for 10 hours a day, for 3GBP
(3Euros 50 cents), almost half the legal minimum wage. After being
discovered taking advantage of the workers' illegal status, Primark
called in Border Control police, focusing negative publicity on the
Indian, Pakistani and Afghan workers, subjecting /them/ to criminal
investigation, while the company continues to ignore the issue and abuse
human rights in order to produce the cheapest clothes on the high street.


*4. Materials – Textile and Wood

Another way that companies can slash their expenditure, is to use cheap
materials, likely to be unsustainably sourced and chemically processed.
Cotton is one of the oldest examples of this; while organic fair-trade
cotton exists, and has become almost mainstream (re-usuable bags being
sold in supermarkets as an environmentally option), this popularity is
till being capitalized upon by companies using GM produce and toxic
processes, and of course exploitation of schoolchildren is rife. In some
countries during the cotton harvest, school are closed and children put
to work in the fields, working under the threat of risking lower grades
if the headmaster doesn't reach his quota.

Green-washing is also an effective way of being allowed to use cheap
material, under 'ethical branding'. The FSC (Forest Stewardship Council)
are now notorious for their ever-widening idea of ethical deforestation.
The FSC started as an organization offering credible certification of
environmentally and socially responsible managed forests, usually for
use in household furniture or building materials. However, this has left
them open to abuse by large companies using FSC 'branded' wood to
attract customers, while their high demand pushes down FSC standards,
leaving more ancient forests open to deforestation under the disguise of
ecological sourcing.

Sweden is home to some of Europe's oldest forests, but due to a
decreased budget for forest protection brought in this year, these are
now at risk of destruction under the cover of FSC. Paper products for
the UK, USA and Germany are the greatest risk to Sweden's forests, with
nearly 2000 species of animals and plants already at risk of extinction.
Read more about the Swedish fight here:

Also see:


*5. Other links:

General: <>

Design Activism-

Short history of design ethics-

If you have any more links related to this topic in English or other
languages, let us know and we'll add them to the website..

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**Published electronically by EYFA**
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