Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Happy May Day

May Day, International Workers Day, is the original Labor Day, which in the US is officially celebrated in September in an attempt by the Capitalist class to disassociate it from its radical, Socialist and Anarchist beginnings and to dilute international worker solidarity, which is what May Day is all about.

EPA Photo/Adi Weda

Facebook today is full of pictures of May Day celebrations, marches, protests and demonstrations, large, small and massive, all over the world, including in Jakarta, Indonesia.

I'd write more but too damn much labor. 

Update: I was just about to shut the computer off when this came in from International Labor Rights Forum.

Rana Plaza
 Dear Frank, 

This International Workers’ Day, we are with heavy hearts as we watch the official death toll rise to over 400 dead, with at least another 400 unaccounted for, at Rana Plaza in Bangladesh where construction crews have begun to bury the unclaimed bodies of the workers who were crushed to death when five garment factories collapsed last Wednesday.

As much as ILRF has followed these horrific accidents for years, written about their cause and warned against continued risks in Deadly Secrets, we too were shocked to our core last Wednesday. Shock has since turned to anger and more determination – for us and for many of the activists we have been hearing from and at the protests we’ve convened during the past month.

ILRF staff is flat out in response mode now, working to get the word out in the press and social media: something big has to change. Corporations need to stop prioritizing profits over human lives! We need to tell global companies that they cannot send production abroad in search of lower costs, and then just hire a factory auditor, pay for some more training, but still walk away when things get too difficult to fix – all while keeping secret the problems they find and sidelining trade unions and legitimate worker organizations.
The legally-binding Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement is built on principles that break the mold from how companies have managed their supply chains up until now. Already two companies have joined the agreement, but Gap Inc has so far refused, despite their earlier promises and previously-touted leadership in social responsibility. Please join us in a Week of Action to Stop the Murders of Garment Workers by delivering a letter to a manager at a Gap Inc store - Gap, Banana Republic or Old Navy. And if there isn’t a store near you then please help circulate our petition to your friends. With any questions in advance of your action, and to report-back from your action, please email 

Now is not the time for global brands to walk away from Bangladesh. Now is the time for them to join with worker advocates globally and locally, to ensure transparency and make a real commitment to ensure change for garment workers and save lives.

Please take action and help us drive real corporate change. And please join us – in person or in solidarity – on May 22nd at our Annual Labor Rights Defenders Awards: Down the Supply Chain; Driving Corporate Accountability.

In solidarity,
Judy Gearhart
Executive Director
International Labor Rights Forum

Activists protest in front of Gap global headquarters in San Francisco, April 25, 2013
Bangladesh Garment & Industrial Workers Federation march on May Day 2013, calling for justice for garment workers.

Reuters video of May Day protests in Dhaka, featuring the president of the National Garment Workers Federation.

International Labor Rights Forum

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