Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Getting the fig leaf ready for fast-tracking TPP

A garment factory in VIetnam.
Vietnam's horrific treatment of workers is one of the many, many reasons to fight the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a power grab for corporations and the 1%.

It's a crime in Vietnam to try to form a union, according to a report by the Workers' Rights Consortium. Child slavery is tolerated, pregnant women are fired and wages are routinely stolen.

The U.S. Trade Representative, who's negotiating the TPP, is getting a fig leaf ready to disguise Vietnam's labor record, according to Inside U.S. Trade:
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative is actively negotiating with Vietnamese officials an action plan to strengthen labor rights in Vietnam in the context of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and Ways and Means Democratic staff are providing input to this process along with a group of like-minded House Democratic offices, according to congressional aides.
A similar trick was used to get the Colombia 'trade' deal passed. It was a fig leaf that allowed members of Congress to vote for the Colombia 'trade' deal. A 'Labor Action Plan' was drawn up, along with promises that Colombia would do better.

Three years later, Colombia is still the most dangerous place in the world to be a trade unionist -- just as the Teamsters predicted.

As we reported in April, violence against trade unionists is increasing in Colombia. There were four more unionist murders in 2013 than in 2012. Public Citizen tells us:
In the three years since the LAP was unveiled, 73 Colombian unionists have been murdered ... Colombia’s workers have also endured 31 murder attempts and 953 death threats since the LAP was announced. These crimes have not resulted in any captures, trials, or convictions. The overall impunity rate for unionist murders from 1977 through the present is 87%, while impunity for anti-union death threats stands at 99.9%.  
Colombia’s unions and the National Union School conclude that the decision to sign the LAP “was taken by the Colombian government as a step toward unfreezing the FTA with the United States rather than as an institutional mechanism to promote real protection of the labor and union rights that Colombian workers have lacked for so long.”
 Let's not get fooled again.