The garment industry has been a backbone of Bangladesh’s economy. In 2012 Bangladesh had more than 4,000 garment industry factories making clothes for major Western brands such as Walmart and Zara. The garment industry earned the country $12 billion a year – nearly 80% of the country’s total exports.
Political dissident Young Sam Kim stages hunger strike to solidify the dissidents in pro-democracy movement, 1983
Doo Hwan Chun filled the power void in South Korea through his military coup right after the assassination of the former President Jung Hee Park in 1979. He became the president after amending the Constitutional Law that turned the presidential election into an indirect election—one that he could easily manipulate.
After months of organizing (primarily using contraband cell phones purchased from prison guards), thousands of Georgia prisoners launched a strike on 9 December 2010 when prisoners assigned to the earliest breakfast shift refused to leave their cells. This was the first major multi-racial prison strike and largest prison strike in American history.
The target was the Georgia State Department of Corrections.
India has maintained much of its traditional caste system, which separates communities based on the socioeconomic status of the communities’ forefathers. Early 20th century constitutional reforms prevented the kind of medieval discrimination that used to make some castes literally ‘untouchable’. The untouchables were replaced by what are referred to as ‘scheduled tribes’ (STs), ‘scheduled castes’ (SCs) and ‘other backward castes’ (OBCs) that collectively refer to India’s socioeconomically disadvantaged people. Combined, they represent about 85% of India’s population.
In 1941 the pay disparity between black South African mine workers and white South African workers was R70 to R848, respectively. The African Mine Workers’ Union (AMWU) formed in response to address this issue. By 1946 the 12:1 ratio of pay had not changed, as black workers were paid R87 while white workers were paid R1,106.
Tibetans in Nangchen County, Qinghai province, China/Tibet, bought vegetables from Chinese vendors until early 2011, when the prices began to increase dramatically. In Chinese-owned vegetable shops, the price of 1 kg of apples increased from 2 yuan to 8 yuan, and the prices of other staple foods, such as cabbage, onions, and potatoes, also increased. The price increases put financial strain on Tibetans.
After becoming independent from Pakistan in 1971, Bangladesh had a long history of military rule. Its first two leaders, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Ziaur Rahman were both assassinated in military coups and their regimes were followed by military dictatorships. The two main Bangladeshi political parties, the Awami League (AL) and the Bangladesh National Party (BNP) were formed by these two leaders and later led by their daughter and widow respectively – Hasina Wajed and Khaleda Zia. In 1982, General Hussain Muhammed Ershad seized power in Bangladesh during a bloodless coup.
In Durban, South Africa, black African workers constituted one of the largest groups of industrial workers in South Africa with 165,000 workers. However, the minimum wage for black African workers was set considerably lower than the Poverty Datum Line.
Women market workers in Lagos, an area in western Nigeria, in the 1920s were organized into a powerful group known as the Lagos Market Women Association (LMWA). In 1932, a rumor emerged that the British colonial government was going to begin taxing Lagosian women, which had never been done before, although taxes for men had been introduced in 1927 (in spite of coordinated resistance by different groups). The market women felt that a tax was unfair and that they were already struggling to make a living.
The United States has a visa program called the H-2B visa. It allows employers to hire foreigners and let them come temporarily to work in the United States, usually for a one-time or peak load basis. This program has repeatedly been criticized for allowing employers to take advantage of guest workers, and in response, the U.S. Congress passed the Protect Our Workers from Exploitation and Retaliation (POWER) Act in June of 2011.
International migrant workers and activists protest the Sixth Ministerial of the World Trade Organization in Hong Kong, 2005
The Sixth Ministerial of the World Trade Organization met from 13-18 December 2005. In this Ministerial, the WTO hoped to move forward after the collapse of trade negotiations in the WTO’s Fifth Ministerial in Cancun, Mexico in 2003.
Corruption is endemic to Brazilian politics, where convicted felons may run for office and elected officials are routinely caught accepting bribes in exchange for political favor. Brazil was ranked 73 out of 182 countries in the 2011 Corruption Perception Index. Although many politicians support anti-corruption measures, they are wary to sponsor an anti-corruption bill, especially after multiple reform bills failed to pass in the National Congress in recent years.
The United States has a visa program called the H-2B visa. It allows employers to hire foreigners and let them come temporarily to work in the United States, usually for a one-time or peak load basis. The program was being expanded and supported in 2006, and Signal International, LLC (a subcontractor of the Northrop-Grumman Corporation), which works with oil rigs in Southern Gulf Coast of the US and in Texas, asked to hire around 550 Indian metalworkers to repair damage done after Hurricane Katrina.
Since the Jung Hee Park regime seized power in South Korea through a military coup in 1962, the government’s economic policy had grown more pro-market and anti-union. Because of its large economic success (in terms of large economic measures like GDP) the public sentiment toward his economic policy was supportive enough to sustain it. Many people adhered to Park’s political narrative of a “growth-first ideology” at the cost of sacrificing labor rights.
By October of 1964, an issue called the “Southern Problem” had formed in Sudan. This Southern Problem was essentially a dispute between the Arabized Muslim North and Christian South of Sudan. The northern “Sudanization” of southern administrative positions and ethnic, cultural, and religious differences began to manifest in discrimination against southern Sudanese, planting the seeds for this problem.
Chi Ha Kim was a poet and playwright who gained prominence through his anti-establishment literature. He inspired many dissidents by inculcating them with courage to stand up against the illegitimate regime and exposing the corrupted nature of the current regime. One of his most renowned satires is The Five Bandits, in which he refers to the five bandits as congressman, military official, chairman, the Secretary, and public servant with a high rank, who hold a robbery contest in which the most corrupted wins.
In 1948, Ghana was a British colony in West Africa; the people had no say in political or economic life. During World War II, large trading companies increased prices on scarce items to maintain profits. After the war ended, the high prices and shortages continued to persist.
South Korea had its 16th general election on 13 April 2000, and its outlook was not bright for many people. Many predicted that the new election would not diverge much from the scenes of the last election in 1996, which was largely problematic. Despite the democratic transformation since 1987, some incumbents and authority figures solidified their power through undemocratic means. Corruption was not hard to find in the election. Some played into and boosted the existing regionalist sentiments that had been largely shaped by the military dictatorship of the past.
On 29 September 2011 about 1,200 miners at Freeport’s Cerro Verde mining site began a 75-day strike. The participants were scheduled to walk off their jobs at 8:30 am Eastern Time. At midnight on the same day, 8,000 miners at Freeport’s Grasberg mine planned to begin a one month strike. The workers at both of these mines were part of the same miners union, all working towards the same goals.
The strikes began after wage talk attempts had failed. The union’s general secretary said, “Freeport’s offer was insufficient. There was no chance of reaching an agreement”.
General Paul Eugène Magloire was elected President of Haiti in 1950 with ninety-nine percent of the vote in an army-monitored election and the official support of the army, church, elite, and American embassy behind him. He implemented a successful economic program and oversaw a period of the best economic growth in Haiti in a century, reforming the banking system, attracting foreign investment, fostering tourism, and instituting a Five Year Plan in 1951 to boost agricultural expenditures.
Prior to 1919 in El Salvador, labor unions were virtually nonexistent and even as they formed, they were not recognized by the government until 1923 and 1924. Living and working under the oppressive Meléndez-Quiñónez regime (in power from 1913 to 1931) made organizing particularly challenging. So when labor movements did begin to arise, they came in waves with many different groups working at the same time. Among these groups were the Zapateros (shoemakers).
Male textile factory workers at El Inca factory in Lima, Peru walked off the job in December of 1918 to protest the effects of a law that enacted an eight-hour workday requirement for women and children. The law was intended to protect the rights of children and particularly women laborers, but instead dissolved the set-up within the factories, slowing production and preventing the remaining male workers from meeting their quotas.
In 2011, Chinese Truckers in Shanghai became fed up with the increase in prices and decrease in profits they were making as professional truck drivers. Truckers were frustrated not only with the small fees and high oil prices, but also with the system itself. The incomes of the Chinese truck drivers were unable to keep up with the rising energy, food, and housing prices in the Chinese economy. China’s consumer price index (the main gauge of inflation) rose 5.4 percent in March, which was it’s highest rise in 32 months.
In 2011, the Independent Electoral Commission of Benin organized a new electronic voting system for the upcoming presidential election, which would require voters to be pre-registered in order to fill out their ballots. The Commission registered people by going door to door in 77 different Beninese counties. This method didn’t prove to be effective enough however, as around 1.3 million Beninese citizens were still not registered to vote. Many questioned the credibility of the voters role when such a large number of voters were unregistered by the end of February (close to election time).
Bolivia’s transition to a democratic government began in 1978 when then military dictator Hugo Banzer Suarez stepped down after international and internal pressure for Bolivia to hold democratic elections. While the Democratic Popular Union (Unidad Democratica y Popular, UDP), led by Hernan Siles Zuazo, won the 1978 elections, Juan Pereda Asbum, Banzer’s chosen successor, launched a military coup and declared the elections invalid.