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[Excerpt] For decades, the U.S. foreign assistance program has sought with limited results to further economic development and growth in Third World countries. We have witnessed some countries making real progress toward development through industrialization, only to find more of their people trapped in hunger and poverty. Hopefully, it is apparent that for development to be effective, it must benefit the broadest sectors of the population within any society.

Why are worker rights crucial to the development process? The capacity to form unions and to bargain collectively to achieve higher wages and safer working conditions is essential to the overall struggle of working people everywhere to achieve minimally decent living standards and to overcome hunger and poverty. The denial of worker rights, especially in Third World countries, tends to perpetuate poverty, to limit the benefits of economic development and growth to narrow, privileged elites and to sow the seeds of social instability and political rebellion.


Suggested Citation
Cavanagh, J., Compa, L., Ebert, A., Goold, B., Selvaggio, K., & Shorrock, T. (1988). Trade’s hidden costs: Worker rights in a changing world economy [Electronic version]. Washington, DC: The International Labor Rights Education and Research Fund.

Required Publisher Statement
Copyright by the International Labor Rights Education and Research Fund. Reprinted by permission.