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USA: Human Rights Watch accuses European companies of exploiting weak labour laws to prevent US employees joining unions

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1 May 2011

[PDF] A Response by the International Organisation of Employers to the Human Rights Watch Report — “A Strange Case: Violations of Workers’ Freedom of Association in the United States by European Multinational Corporations”

Author: International Organisation of Employers

Human Rights Watch, published a report entitled A Strange Case — Violation of Workers’ Freedom of Association in the United State by European Multinational Corporations…The Report argues that the protections available in the United States for workers who desire to become unionized are insufficient and that the American laws are inconsistent with the protections available under international labour law…This paper is a response by the International Organisation of Employers (“IOE”) to some of the critical flaws contained in the Report and its analysis. This Response is designed to offer a broader and more complete perspective on this critical debate. The foregoing text will identify and explore misleading aspects of the Report. The analyses in this Response relied upon publicly available information, including the responses from the companies featured in the Report, and the IOE’s own review and understanding of the relevant authorities.

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8 September 2010

US laws comply with global fundamental labour rights

Author: Ronnie L. Goldberg, US Council for International Business; Randel K. Johnson, US Chamber of Commerce, in Financial Times

The Human Rights Watch report referenced in your September 2 article “Groups attacked on US labour practice” reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of international labour standards and US labour law. In the first instance, European Union labour laws do not define international labour standards...Second, US labour law is consistent with the principles and policy objectives that underpin the ILO’s fundamental labour rights. The fact that US and EU labour laws differ in technical details does not make US laws “weak”...Finally, US labour law is clear that employees have a right to choose whether to join a labour union. There is no international standard against “discouraging workers from forming unions”.

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2 September 2010

A Strange Case: Violations of Workers’ Freedom of Association in the United States by European Multinational Corporations

Author: Human Rights Watch

Europe-based companies that proclaim their adherence to international labor law and standards that are embodied in their home countries' domestic laws, and largely complied with, too often fail to live up to such commitments when they begin or take over operations in the United States, where the law is less protective of workers' freedom of association...Human Rights Watch invited all companies mentioned in the report to present their position on events recounted in the case studies. [refers to Deutsche Telekom, DHL (part of Deutsche Post), G4S, Gamma Holding, Kongsberg, Saint-Gobain, Sodexo, T-Mobile (part of Deutsche Telekom), Tesco, Robert Bosch, Siemens, Wackenhut (part of G4S)]

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Author: Human Rights Watch (HRW)

Muchas compañías europeas que públicamente aceptan y promueven los derechos de los trabajadores bajo los estándares globales del trabajo, socavan esos derechos en sus operaciones en Estados Unidos, señaló Human Rights Watch en un informe...[que se llama] "A Strange Case: Violations of Workers' Freedom of Association in the United States by European Multinational Corporations" ("Un caso extraño: Violaciones a la libertad de asociación de los trabajadores en Estados Unidos por parte de las multinacionales europeas"). [Refiere a T-Mobile (parte de Deutsche Telekom), DHL (parte de Deutsche Post), Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Markets (parte de Tesco), Group 4 Securicor (G4S), Sodexo, Saint-Gobain, Konsberg Automotive, Gamma Holding]

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2 September 2010

Tesco's US operation accused of bullying staff

Author: Stephen Foley, Independent [UK]

European companies…are facing criticism from [Human Rights Watch]…for allegedly exploiting weak labour laws in the US and bullying employees to prevent them from joining unions…In a report…the campaign group says that managers at Tesco's…Fresh & Easy, have created an anti-union atmosphere, and that employees who want to organise union activities live in fear for their jobs…Group 4 Securicor (G4S) fired an employee for trying to persuade colleagues to join a union. The pair are on a list of European companies singled out by Human Rights Watch for what the group says is hypocrisy and violation of international standards on freedom of association. [also refers to DHL (part of Deutsche Post), T-Mobile (part of Deutsche Telekom), Saint-Gobain] [includes statements by G4S, Tesco]

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27 July 2010

[PDF] Letter to Arvind Ganesan, Human Rights Watch

Author: Michael Landel, CEO, Sodexo SA

The following is intended to be a comprehensive response to your inquiry. We have reviewed Sodexo's Group-level and U.S. commitments to our employees' freedom of association in light of prevailing international standards as set forth through the ILO and other official bodies charged with interpreting and applying the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, ILO Conventions 87 and 98, and other jurisprudence interpreting international labor standards...[We] believe that a full and objective assessment of the issues you have identified....warrant the conclusion that...Sodexo's North American operations further Sodexo's commitments to human rights. [section headings:]
I. Commitment of the Sodexo Group to Human Rights...
II. Sodexo's Labor Policies and Practices in North America...
III. Specific Issues Raised by Human Rights Watch...

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