policybrief - 1 TO: Sandra Polaski, Deputy Undersecretary...

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TO : Sandra Polaski, Deputy Undersecretary for International Affairs at the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs FROM : Jordan Townsend, Advocacy Director for International Affairs at Amnesty International RE : The environmental violations and worker exploitation that are occurring at the Bridgestone Firestone Company’s rubber plantation located in Liberia. DATE : 12/1/2009 The purpose of this brief is to act as a summary to how we may improve worker conditions in addition to the acts of environmental destruction that are being caused by the Bridgestone Firestone Company’s rubber plantation located in Liberia. Bridgestone has operated a rubber plantation in Liberia dating back to 1926. The country of Liberia has been ravaged by two civil wars, the first being 1989-1996 and the second during 1999-2003. These wars have left the country in shambles with little or no governmental oversight of multinational corporations operating within the country. The issue at hand is the plantations use of toxic pesticides that cause severe harm to the environment of Liberia and the exploitation of workers employed by Bridgestone’s plantation. The most pressing violations occurring within the Bridgestone rubber plantation are of both local and international labor laws. A notable violation is the absurd quote of rubber which each employee is required to produce each day. In addition to the daily task that takes the typical worker about 21 hours to complete per day, the workers are commonly instructed to bring their children to work alongside them. Even though children are forced to work 12-14 hours a day, they still lack proper nutrition due to the ridiculously low wages they are paid for such labor intensive and hazardous tasks (Stop Firestone 2009). The amount of time each day that a child spends working doesn’t allow for him/her the opportunity to seek a proper education and consequently diminishing any chances of advancing their socioeconomic status. This exploitation of workers, both adult and child, creates a self-perpetuating cycle in which the workers continue to be uneducated and are therefore unable to seek better jobs, rendering them dependent on their job as their sole source of food. Workers have thus far been unable to unionize effectively despite the democratically elected leadership that occurred in 2007, which the Bridgestone management of the factory is refusing to meet with (Stop Firestone 2009). The current labor situation that is active in Liberia at this time constitutes as a modern
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This note was uploaded on 02/01/2011 for the course GLOBAL 1 taught by Professor Gunn during the Spring '08 term at UCSB.

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policybrief - 1 TO: Sandra Polaski, Deputy Undersecretary...

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