Monday, May 19, 2008

Indian guest workers from Gulf Coast began hunger strike...


The struggle of the Gulf Coast Indian guest workers against Signal International and the exploitative H2B guest worker program entered a new stage this week, with the launching of a hunger strike by five of the workers on Wednesday.

These workers have demonstrated great creativity and courage in their struggle. On March 27th, one hundred of these workers arrived in Washington D.C. after completing a 1,500 mile march, much of it on foot, from New Orleans. The march or “satyagraha” was organized to highlight the shocking story of what these workers have endured, and the flaws inherent in the U.S. guest worker program. The Indian guest workers are requesting that the U.S. government investigate abuses of migrant workers rights in the U.S., for reforms of the H2B system, and for the right to remain safely in the US during an ongoing Department of Justice investigation into their case.

Last night’s episode of Labor Express Radio featured the Indian workers session at the 2008 Labor Notes conference. During their presentation, the workers described how they paid 15,000 to 20,000 dollars to labor recruiters who promised high wages and even the possibility of permanent residency in the U.S. Instead they were forced to live in windowless sheet metal sheds, were policed by company security day and night, confined most the time on company grounds, and made wages well below the prevailing wage for their work classifications. You can here the episode here…

http://www.archive.org/details/LE5-19-08

To find out more about the hunger strike and the ongoing struggle of these Indian workers, check out the following links…

http://nolaworkerscenter.wordpress.com/

http://www.neworleansworkerjustice.org/

The situation of the Signal workers is one of the most powerful indictments of the H2B guest worker program yet uncovered. These workers need our full support and their story needs to be heard across the country.

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