Anyone seeking to support workers' rights internationally should register with the news and campaigning website LabourStart.org
LabourStart provides in more than 20 languages, daily labour news that is collected from mainstream, trade union and alternative news sources by over 700 volunteer correspondents. The organisation also runs a special health and safety newswire jointly with Hazards magazine. In addition, the LabourStart ActNOW campaign conducts on behalf of trade unionists global campaigns that have frequently forced companies and governments to negotiate with unions and/or release jailed trade unionists.
Despite the International Labour Organization (ILO) estimating that the agricultural sector worldwide employs around 1/3rd of the available labour force, many of whom are women and children, it is often difficult to keep up with developments as the sector is often ignored by the mainstream media.
LabourStart's correspondents help overcome this and there are currently 1,000 agricultural sector articles online. These include recent articles highlighting that Human Rights Watch are concerned that Israeli settlement farms in the occupied West Bank are exploiting Palestinian child labour to cultivate, harvest and pack agricultural produce, mainly for export to Europe and the USA.
Much better news was reported in February 2015 that in the Sindh Province of Pakistan the first ever Agriculture and Fishing Workers Union has been registered in the country with 400 members, including 180 women. The union’s development owed much to an ILO project, Promoting Gender Equality for Decent Employment, which provided training on leadership, gender equality and paralegal skills for those who led the successful effort to establish the union.
Gulfam Memon of the Sindh Labour Department, said the new union, "would help agriculture and fishery sector workers negotiate better working conditions and enhance occupational safety and health coverage."
Good news also from Morocco where over 1,000 agriculture workers, mostly women, on five large farms in the fertile Meknes region are celebrating the signing of their first-ever collective bargaining agreement between the Democratic Labor Confederation and the agro-industry employer, Les Domaines Brahim Zniber.
Meanwhile, whilst ActNOW was not as we went to press conducting any campaigns related to agricultural workers there was nevertheless an urgent need for Unite members to add their voices to demands for respect for trade union rights in Hungary, Iran, Swaziland and Kenya.
LabourStart also has a weekly radio programme at radiolabour.net as well as a twitter feed and an archive of photos showing how trade unionists and labour groups are fighting for their democratic, economic and political rights. These are things we all need more of in a world where the corporate media is doing its best to protect the power of a tiny elite and which LabourStart is doing its best to oppose.
For more details about joining the LabourStart mailing list and/or become a correspondent then go to:- LabourStart.org or email email@example.com
Mark Metcalf, volunteer correspondent for LabourStart.org