In Asia and Latin America, multinationals increasingly harness cheap labour by outsourcing operations. This strategy entails the setting up of export processing zones (EPZ) that operate as enclaves where companies pay cheap wages with no benefits, avoid taxes, environmental controls and safety standards. Union organizing is quickly repressed in the EPZ.
It is estimated that 55 to 66 million people work in such plants in the electronics sector in the Philippines, and the garment industry in Bangladesh, Honduras and northern Mexico.
The SJF endorses the work of the Workers Assistance Centre of the Philippines to educate and organize workers in the EPZ of Cavite and Batangas and defend them against unfair labour practices, state-sponsored repression and anti-labour policies.
Since 2013, the SJF is supporting Occupational Health and Safety Training for workers in the EPZ. These workers, primarily women, are subject to sexual harassment, discrimination, and illness related to reproduction – such as premature birth, birth defects, and infertility. The program offers training and seminars on the right to health, the creation of an Occupational Health and Safety Committee and the documentation and monitoring of workplace hazards.