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Rights Group Says European Multinationals Violate US Workers' Rights


European companies have been accused by Human Rights Watch of violating workers' rights in the United States. In a new report, it says European multinational firms have carried out aggressive campaigns to keep workers in the U.S. from organizing and bargaining for themselves.

Human Rights Watch says a number of European companies heed tough labor laws in Europe, but when they move into the United States, workers' rights are dropped low on the agenda. The report looks at companies from across Europe, including German T-Mobile and British supermarket chain Tesco.

Not all the companies are accused of the same shortcomings, but the charges vary from muzzling unions to hiring replacements to fill the places of workers on strike.

Tom Porteous - the head of the London office of Human Rights Watch - said, "These are all activities, which fall way below international standards to which these companies have signed up. We have found in the course of our research that all these companies at one time or another have been engaged in activities, which would be totally unacceptable and anathema if they engaged in them in Europe."

Tesco was not available for an interview with Voice of America, but in a written statement it said the allegations are "completely untrue." It said all of its staff are free to join trade unions; similar responses have been made by other companies named in the report.

Porteous said the United States has poor labor laws plagued by long delays and weak penalties. He said during the course of several centuries the situation that has developed in Europe is quite different.

"Workers have actually managed to win quite an array of rights to organize, to strike, and so on," said Porteous. "But when it comes to the U.S., those rights are much weaker."

The report said the United States needs to make its labor laws more effective. It also called for international bodies to do more for oversight when European companies head overseas.


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