Rosenbaum explains the memorandum brings a “whole-of-government approach” to advancing worker empowerment and organising workers’ rights and labour standards globally.

She pointed out that at a time when labour rights defenders are under attack in countries around the world, the Global Labor Strategy recognises the foundational importance of the right to organise.

This, she continued, includes addressing “violence and threats of violence against workers and worker organisations, including proposals that address threats, intimidation, blacklisting, gender-based violence, and discrimination against labour union leaders and members.”

GLJ-ILRF said the points outlined by the White House in its strategy will be vital to supporting fundamental labour rights globally, including:

  • Directing US procurement policy to eliminate spending US government funds on global value chains including, for example, refraining from placing government staff or government events at hotels with active labour disputes or strikes, such as the Sheraton Grand Conakry in Guinea.
  • Developing innovative solutions to strengthen the rights of migrant workers and promoting the fair recruitment of workers seeking employment-based visas overseas.
  • Using the administration’s voice and vote on the boards of development finance institutions (DFI) like the World Bank and International Finance Corporation to ensure investments protect and promote workers rights and hold clients accountable for worker rights violations, including gender-based violence and harassment.
  • Eliminating anticompetitive labour market practices, such as wage fixing, and measures such as stock buybacks, that suppress wages in many countries that host the global supply chains of US multinational corporations and enrich investors at workers’ expense, such as the garment workers fighting wage theft in the supply chains of fast fashion companies.
  • Use existing authority of the US Trade Representative to promote internationally recognised labour rights and to pursue effective and meaningful remediation of labour rights violations or to address gaps in labour rights protections on global supply chains including garment, melon, cotton and seafood supply chains.
  • Further aligning the Department of Homeland Security’s efforts to eradicate forced labour through enforcement of import bans and promoting innovative approaches to ensure adherence to internationally recognised labour rights throughout supply chains.
  • Ensuring US diplomats act consistently with US policy on labour by meeting with trade union leaders, responding swiftly to threats and attacks on labour rights and union leaders and members.

GLJ-ILRF added that the new White House memorandum complements the Multilateral Partnership for Organizing, Worker Empowerment and Rights (M-POWER) Program as well as the recently launched US-Brazil partnership for workers’ rights.

Earlier this month (November) Bangladesh’s apparel industry saw garment workers demanding a wage increase to 23,000Tk ($208) per month with apparel labour union alliance Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) arguing Bangladesh garment workers have a right to protest.

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