News & Commentary

May 25, 2015

The Guardian reports that the Nepalese workers building stadiums for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar have been denied leave to attend funerals or visit relatives following the earthquake in April that killed more than 8,000 people. About 400,000 of the workers on the project are from Nepal and the Nepalese government has requested that all companies in Qatar give them special leave and pay for their airfare home. However, none of the workers working on the World Cup construction site has been granted this accommodation due to the pressure to complete the projects on time. Nepal’s labor minister, Tek Bahadur Gurung, has attempted to contact Fifa and its sponsors to ask them to intervene, but, to date, FIfa has been unresponsive.

The Middle East Eye reports that Renault, a French car manufacturer, has offered cash payments to striking workers in western Turkey at the Oyak Renault Factory, Turkey’s biggest car plant. The strike started nearly two weeks ago over a wage dispute and workers’ demands that their union, the Turkish Metal Labor Union, withdraw from their representation. Since then, the Andalou Agency reports, the workers have been occupying the Renault factory and its surrounding car park. While some politicians attempted to visit the factory, they were respectfully turned away unless they removed their party badge. As one organizer commented, “No one should perceive this [resistance] as political . . . There are no political slogans here.”

Last week, the New York City government organized a Nail Salon Day of Action, after an investigation by the New York Times published three weeks ago exposed widespread exploitation of nail salon workers and serious public health problems. The New York Times reported that the city government organized hundreds of volunteers to conduct outreach to nail salon workers about their rights and salon employment’s public health hazards. The day of action came shortly after Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered emergency measures to combat wage theft and public health hazards suffered by nail salon workers. The emergency measures included the establishment of a multiagency task force that will conduct investigations and implement rules governing salons’ employment practices.

The New York Times reports that the decline in state, local, and federal employment in recent years has disproportionately impacted African-American families, who have traditionally depended on government employment as a relatively open pathway to the middle class. One in five black adults works for the government, making them 30 percent more likely to have a public sector job than non-Hispanic whites and twice as likely as Hispanic workers. But, with the Great Recession, public sector jobs in the United States have been cut in half since 2007, according to the Department of Labor, not counting lost job growth. According to Jennifer Laird, a sociologist at the University of Washington, African-Americans have been hit hard by the recession not only because they hold a disproportionate share of public sector jobs, but also because they are more likely to lose their jobs during layoffs than white employees.

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