Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Teamsters Denounce FedEx For Accepting Award From Country Guilty Of Widespread Labor Violations

April 13, 2009
FedEx Should Put Human Rights Over Profits. Teamsters Say

Press Contact:Galen Munroe

The Teamsters today denounced FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) for accepting an award for “corporate responsibility” from the Chamber of Commerce in Dubai, where indentured servitude is widespread among immigrant construction workers.

“The Teamsters are outraged that FedEx would accept an award from a country that would allow employers to treat workers so poorly,” said Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa. “Companies must make human rights a priority when it comes to doing business. They must stop the practice of putting profits before its people, both in other countries and here at home.”

FedEx Express was one of several companies to receive the dubious honor at the fourth annual Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Business Awards presented earlier this week. The awards are given to “encourage excellent business practices and to contribute to the national development of the United Arab Emirates.”

Hamdi Osman, Senior Vice President for FedEx Express Europe, Middle East, Indian Subcontinent and Africa, said the company was “honored to be recognized for this contribution to the market” and that the award showed FedEx was demonstrating “that it follows the highest international business standards.”

In Dubai, hundreds of thousands of workers are forced to live in squalid labor camps and work 18 hours a day to earn about $1 an hour.

A Human Rights Watch report in November 2006, “Building Towers, Cheating Workers,” reported that the UAE government “has abdicated almost entirely from its responsibility to protect workers’ rights by investigating, prosecuting and remedying abusive and unlawful conduct by employers toward the construction workers.”

The abuses include unpaid or extremely low wages, several years of indebtedness to recruitment agencies for fees that UAE law says only employers should pay, the withholding of employees’ passports, and hazardous working conditions that result in apparently high rates of death and injury.

Last year, Dubai’s criminal court sentenced 45 immigrant Indian workers to prison because they went on strike for better working conditions. The sentence was in violation of the International Labor Organization’s Convention 87 on freedom of association.

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