Show your support for garment workers around the world as they call for a #livingwage now.
Show your support for garment workers around the world as they call for a #livingwage now.
Show your support for garment workers around the world as they call for a #livingwage now.
The Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) is delighted to announce a major campaign victory with the confirmation that the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund has finally met its target of $30 million, following a large anonymous donation.
The CCC has been campaigning since the disaster in April 2013 to demand that brands and retailers provided compensation to its victims.
Since then over one million consumers from across Europe and around the world have joined actions against many of the major high street companies whose products were being made in one of the five factories housed in the structurally compromised building. These actions forced many brands to finally pay donations and by the second anniversary the Fund was still $2.4 million dollars short of its $30million target. A large donation received by the Fund in the last few days has now led to the Fund meeting its target.
“This day has been long in coming. Now that all the families impacted by this disaster will finally receive all the money that they are owed, they can finally focus on rebuilding their lives. This is a remarkable moment for justice,” said Kate Nolan of the Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland. “This would not have been possible without the support of citizens and consumers in Ireland and across Europe who stuck with the campaign over the past two years. Together we have proved once again that European consumers do care about the workers who make their clothes – and that their actions really can make a difference.”
The Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund was set up by the ILO in January 2014 to collect funds to pay awards designed to cover loss of income and medical costs suffered by the Rana Plaza victims and their families when the Rana Plaza building collapsed in the garment industry’s worst ever disaster.
In November 2014 the Rana Plaza Coordination Committee announced that this would need around $30million to pay in full over 5,000 awards granted through the scheme. However, the failure of brands and retailers linked to Rana Plaza to provide sufficient and timely donations into the Fund has, until today, prevented the payment of the awards from being completed.
The CCC continues to call for policy changes to ensure that those affected by future disasters will receive more timely support. They welcome a new initiative by the ILO in Bangladesh to develop a national workplace injury scheme for the country’s 4 million garment workers. They also urge European politicians to develop better regulation of supply chains to ensure that brands and retailers are held properly accountable in the future.
“This is a huge victory – but its been too long in the making” says Ineke Zeldenrust from the CCC International Secretariat: “That brands with a collective annual profit of over $20 billion took two years and significant public pressure to come up with a mere $30 million is an indictment of the voluntary nature of social responsibility. We now need to look at ways to ensure that access to such remedy is provided by brands and retailers as a matter of course, and not only when public outrage makes doing nothing impossible.”
New Report from Clean Clothes Campaign finds bonded labour remains entrenched in highstreet fashion retailers’ supply chains.
The latest report released by Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland and their partners have found a bonded labour schemes targeting poverty stricken young girls as young as 15 in South India are supplying well known highstreet retailers including Primark, Motercare, C&A and Sainsbury’s among others.
Flawed Fabrics an new report from Clean Clothes Campaign partners; the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) and the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN) highlights serious labour rights and human rights violations faced by girls and young women in the South Indian textile hub of Tamil Nadu.
The report interviewed over 150 women and girls working in 5 of the estimated 1600 the spinning mills of Tamil Nadu, and found the practice of Sumangali schemes remains entrenched in the region. The Sumangali scheme is an employment arrangement targeting young girls recruited from marginalised Dalit communities in impoverished rural areas. Brought to the mills and factories on the promise of good wages, accommodation, three meals a day and the promise of a lump sum ‘dowry’ payment at the end of an agreed term, this report show that the vulnerable young girls find themselves in a very different situation.
Living in basic and over-crowded company-run hostels the girls interviewed faced restrictions of movement, rationed external communication and in many cases armed guards at the gates of compounds. Forced to work at least 60 hours a week in hostile and unhealthy conditions where night shifts and overtime are obligatory and pay is deducted in the case of illness.
A worker at Sulochana Cotton Spinning Mills said of her living conditions: “I do not like the hostel; there is no entertainment and no outside contact and is very far from the town. It is like a semi-prison.”
Despite these significant breaches of worker and human rights, two of the researched mills received international certification (SA8000) from Social Accountability International (SAI) for adhering to international labour standards.
Kate Nolan of Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland states “On news of continued rising profits for low cost retailers like Penneys, we have to start to consider where these margins are realized. Buying practices including pricing need to allow for decent working conditions so that girls and young women in Tamil Nadu no longer have to face appalling working conditions that are tantamount to forced labour.“
Rosie O’Reilly of Re-dress, Ireland’s Sustainable Fashion Initiative comments
“The hallmark of a sustainable enterprise is not soaring profits but companies that show the means to encourage innovation and long-term planning around resource use and social responsibility. Companies should be creating more wealth than they destroy and should be building net wealth – social, ecological and economic. In the case of fast fashion brand Penneys and others named in this report this is not the case. There recent tie to Sumangali schemes in India illustrates this clearly as do the many reports released this year that link fashion brands to increasing environmental and humanitarian destruction. “
SOMO researcher and co-author of the report Martje Theuws says: “Business efforts are failing to address labour rights violations effectively. Corporate auditing is not geared towards detecting forced labour and other major labour rights infringements. Moreover, there is a near complete lack of supply chain transparency. Local trade unions and labour groups are consistently ignored.”
In addition, ICN programme officer Marijn Peepercamp states: “Governments at the buying end of the supply chain are failing to ensure that companies live up to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. The state duty to protect and the corporate responsibility to respect human rights as laid down in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights are not being respected.”
This is not the first time SOMO and ICN have reported the issue of forced labour in South India, the Captured by Cotton Report 2011 also raised the issue and produced many strong intentions to tackle the issue from multi stakeholders initiatives and retailers but to date we have seen little proof that their intentions are finding any path to changing the reality for these young girls.
Read the full reports here
Tailored Wages – new report investigates clothing brands’ work on living wages.
Survey of 39 leading clothing brands on Irish high-street show they must do much more to ensure garment workers receive a wage they can live on.
Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland has launched ‘Tailored Wages’ an in depth study of what the leading 39 clothing brands on the Irish and European high-street are doing to ensure that the workers who produce the clothes they sell are paid a living wage.
Based on a multi-brand survey “Tailored Wages” found that whilst half of those surveyed included wording in their codes of conduct saying that wages should be enough to meet workers’ basic needs; only four brands – Inditex (Zara), Marks & Spencers, Switcher and Tchibo – were able to show any clear steps towards implementing this – and even they have a long way to go before a living wage becomes a reality for the garment workers that produce for them.
Irish retailers lag behind
Of the Irish retailers requested to participate, only Penneys were willing to share their projects and ongoing work with relation to workers’ wages. Neither Dunnes Stores nor O’Neills sportswear suppliers were able to supply even rudimentary information on codes of conduct or ethical trading policies.
Download the full report here: Tailored Wages 2014
More action and less talk
“Although a living wage is a human right, shockingly none of Europe’s leading 50 companies is yet paying a living wage,” said Anna McMullen, the lead author on the report. “The research showed that while more brands are aware of the living wage and recognise that it is something to be included in their codes of conduct and in CSR brochures, disappointingly for most of the brands surveyed this was as far as they went. With millions of women and men worldwide dependent on the garment industry it is vital that these words are turned into definitive actions sooner rather than later.”
Co-author, Kate Nolan of Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland added “We were disappointed but not surprised to find that so many retailers are doing so little to ensure living wages are met in their supply chains. The fact remains that a living wage is a human right and retailers who continue to abdicate their responsibilities in this matter are infringing upon those workers’ human rights”
Struggle for living wages reaching critical point
In key garment producing countries such as Bangladesh and Cambodia the struggle for a living wage continues, as latest figures from the Asia Floor Wage Alliance show that living wage levels are, on average, three times the minimum wage a garment worker receives.
Cambodian workers, currently receive USD 100 a month, just 25% of the Asia Floor Wage calculation for Cambodia, while even after the post Rana Plaza disaster and enormous global pressure to increase the minimum wage to meet workers needs, Bangladesh stands at just 21%.
“My expenses are increasing every day,” says Lili, a factory worker from Cambodia. “Even if we [the workers] eat all together in a small room and I collect the money from all others, we still can only spend a very small amount each because everybody always thinks ‘how are we going to be able to send money home to our families?”
The Clean Clothes Campaign carried out the research to monitor how far policies are being turned into practice by major clothing brands. The role of companies in ensuring a living wage is paid is vital as they have the ability to change prices and purchasing practices that would ensure wages allowed garment workers to live with dignity.
Tailored Wages is part of a global campaign run by Clean Clothes Campaign and partners the Asia Floor Wage Alliance calling on all brands and governments to take action in order to ensure a living wage is paid.
Activists in 15 countries across Europe demand clothing brands pay a living wage to garment workers.
Tomorrow, Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland is joining its European partners in launching a new campaign calling on clothing companies to Pay a Living Wage to garment workers. The #LivingWage campaign begins on 21st October with a week of action in 15 European countries.
The campaign launch comes exactly six months after the devastating collapse of Rana Plaza, in which 1,133 Bangladeshi workers were killed. Six months on from the largest industrial accident to hit the garment industry, millions of workers continue to have no choice but to risk their lives in order to afford a decent life.
In Bangladesh, where an estimated 4 million people work in the garment industry, the current minimum wage is just €28.60 (3,000 taka) a month. This is 11% of the €259.80 (27,369 taka) that Clean Clothes Campaign partner the Asia Floor Wage Alliance calculates to be a living wage for the country.
For many workers, the lack of a living wage means they must work long hours to earn overtime or bonuses and cannot risk taking time off due to unsafe working conditions or for ill health.
“We force ourselves to work long hours because the salary is not enough to live on, especially because my parents are dependent on my salary as well” says Horn Vy, a 25 year old garment worker in Cambodia.
For Horn Vy and other Cambodian garment workers the minimum wage is €60.95 (336,000 riel), just 21% of the €289.64 (1,596,059 riel) the Asia Floor Wage Alliance calculates to be a living wage in Cambodia.
“A living wage should be earned before overtime and allow a garment worker to be able to feed herself and her family, pay the rent, pay for healthcare and education and have a small amount of savings for when something unexpected happens.” says Kate Nolan, Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland.
The Irish Clean Clothes Campaign has brought this issue into focus with their 50 sense Campaign, choosing to highlight the truly tiny amount extra it would cost to achieve a living wage within the garment supply chain.
“Arguments of supply and demand and cost sensitive markets don’t stand up against such a insignificant number. Just 50 cent more per garment, paid directly to a worker is the difference between her living with dignity or within a spiraling poverty trap.” says Kate Nolan, Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland
The increase of this €0.50 per garment accounts for just 1.42% of the retail price, a mere drop in the ocean of retailers like Penneys, H&M or Benetton who’s profits soar into the billions each year but as of yet no retailer has successfully integrated a living wage system into their supply chains.
Yet a recent survey carried out by Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland shows consumers expect retailers to do just this. According to Nolan,
“We have seen a clear expectation expressed by consumers for retailers to pay a living wage to their workers. Of the 100 participants, 93% felt it was the responsibility of retailers to ensure their workers were paid a living wage, but we also saw that over 99% or consumers were willing to absorb part or all of the extra cost if retailers demanded it of them.”
“Companies must take steps to ensure they are paying a living wage in the countries they source from. Governments must ensure that minimum wages are set at levels that allow people to live with dignity. While low labour costs continue to be exploited throughout the industry it remains impossible to argue that the garment industry is benefiting those who work within it.”
The 50 sense Campaign is supported by NGO’s, unions, schools, colleges and community groups across Ireland and from October 21st they will join activists and advocates for change across Europe to demand clothing companies take control of their supply chains and pay a living wage.
The Pay a Living Wage campaign is calling on:
Notes to editors:
For more information: http://www.cleanclothescampaignireland.org/living–wage
The Clean Clothes Campaign works with over 200 partner organisations worldwide to improve working conditions and support empowerment of workers in the global garment industry. The Campaign has offices in 12 European countries.
The Asia Floor Wage Alliance (AFWA) is an international alliance of trade unions and labour rights activist who are working together to demand garment workers are paid a living wage. Clean Clothes Campaign is a member of the alliance.
The Asia Floor Wage Alliance carry out regular food basket research in the region to calculate new Asia Floor Wage figures. The 2013 Asia Floor Wage figure is PPP$725. (PPP$ – Purchasing Power Parity $ – are an imaginary World Bank currency built on the consumption of goods and services by people, allowing standard of living between countries to be compared regardless of the national currency. ) To see the AFW in local currency please visit http://www.cleanclothes.org/livingwage/asia-floor-wage-by-country.
Living wage calculations must take into account some common factors including the number of family members to be supported, the basic nutritional needs of a worker and other basic needs including housing, healthcare, education and some basic savings.
The Asia Floor Wage Alliance base their calculations on the following assumptions:
Eleven of the brands and retailers sourcing from the factories involved in the Tazreen and Rana Plaza disasters joined high-level compensation meetings, facilitated by the ILO as a neutral chair, on 11-12 September in Geneva. Many other major companies failed to attend, showing total contempt for the 1,900 workers who were injured and the families of over 1,200 workers who were killed making their products.
IndustriALL Global Union Assistant General Secretary Monika Kemperle stated: “Consumers will be shocked that almost a half-year has passed since the Rana Plaza disaster with only one brand so far providing any compensation to the disaster’s victims. I respect those brands that came to these meetings. But I cannot understand brands that are not around the table.”
Regarding Rana Plaza out of a total of 29 brands that were invited the following 9 brands showed good faith by attending the meeting: Bon Marché, Camaieu, El Corte Ingles, Kik, Loblaw, Mascot, Matalan, Primark, Store Twenty One.
20 other companies, all of whom were invited, failed to show up: Adler, Auchan, Benetton, C&A, Carrefour, Cato Corp, The Children’s Place, Dressbarn, Essenza, FTA International, Gueldenpfennig, Iconix Brand, Inditex, JC Penney, Kids Fashion Group, LPP, Mango, Manifattura Corona, NKD, Premier Clothing, PWT Group, Texman and Walmart.
IndustriALL, the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) and the Workers Rights Consortium (WRC) presented a proposed model for compensation, which has been used by brands and retailers in previous factory disasters in Bangladesh. The model includes payment for pain and suffering and loss of income. For Rana Plaza US$74,571,101 would be needed to provide full compensation to all workers, of which the brands are being asked to contribute US$ 33,556,996. For Tazreen US$6,442,000 is required, with US$2,899,000 being asked from the brands.
International experts outlined best practices for the establishment of a compensation fund, overseen by a multi stakeholder committee, which could be created through an agreement by all the parties involved. No such agreement was reached at this meeting, although the brands present committed to continuing discussions on this issue.
IndustriALL, CCC and the WRC would welcome the creation of such a fund and urge all parties to work together to ensure this is set up at the earliest possible date.
The Bangladesh Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Md. Abdul Hannan also addressed the meeting.
Bangladeshi workers and victim’s families hoping for immediate aid will be disappointed. Brands’ commitments after two days were limited to:
Immediately after the meeting Primark committed to providing a further three months salary to all affected families as emergency relief. Unfortunately, none of the other brands or retailers present at the meeting committed to provide such emergency relief.
ZM Kamrul Anam of the IndustriALL Bangladesh Council called on brands to act swiftly:
“We appreciate Primark having already made a three month salary payment to the injured and victims’ families. But when I go back to Bangladesh they will ask me what more was decided here. Those families need food, medicene and housing. Please, all brands and retailers, match that three months salary for these people in urgent need. Some time can be expected to establish a sustainable solution, but an immediate payment to help these families must be made now.”
At the Tazreen compensation meeting on the previous day, C&A tabled its substantial compensation initiative for the victims and demonstrated its continued commitment to finding a definitive solution. Karl Rieker, which was also in attendance also signaled a readiness to contribute and was commended for positive participation in the Tazreen discussion.
Of the brands and retailers invited to the Tazreen process the following companies failed to participate in the 11 September meeting: Delta Apparel, Dickies, Disney, El Corte Inglés, Edinburgh Woolen Mill, Kik, Li & Fung, Piazza Italia, Sean John, Sears, Teddy Smith, and Walmart.
IndustriALL Assistant General Secretary Monika Kemperle stated:
“The disregard of the absent brands for the plight of workers in Bangladesh whose lives have been destroyed by the avoidable accidents at Tazreen and Rana Plaza is shocking in the extreme. Empty promises and direct untruths since the Tazreen fire and the Rana Plaza collapse all so that these Western multinationals can avoid making payments that amount to a minute percentage of turnover.”
UNI Global Union General Secretary Philip Jennings stated:
“Walmart is the world’s largest retailer and one of the largest buyers from Bangladesh. They should be a leader in taking responsibility for their global supply chain. Once again Walmart had failed to make a commitment to the workers in Bangladesh who produce the millions of garments sold around the world at large profit.”
Clean Clothes Campaign’s Ineke Zeldenrust stated:
“CCC will continue to put pressure on those brands who have not yet committed to immediately and actively engage in the negotiation process and commit to providing sufficient funds to meet the amounts needed to provide the workers and their families with the compensation they are entitled to under international standards.”
Worker Rights Consortium Executive Director Scott Nova added,
“It is past time that the victims of the worst industrial disaster in history and their families receive assistance from the international brands and retailers that profited from these workers’ labor. It is shocking that not only have hardly any brands committed to any concrete level of assistance, but even more so that most of the companies implicated in the disaster did not even bother to show up to discuss helping the victims.”
Activists continue to demand urgent action from governments and companies to stamp out the continued use of sandblasting and other unsafe finishing processes in the manufacture of denim jeans. The call comes in a new report into conditions in six denim factories in the Chinese province of Guangdong, a region responsible for half of the world’s entire production of denim jeans.
The report, Breathless for Blue Jeans: Health hazards in China’s denim factories, finds that sandblasting is still widespread in China in order to give jeans a worn or ‘distressed’ look, despite most Western brands banning the practice three years ago because of its link to silicosis, a deadly lung disease that has already caused the deaths of many garment workers.
One worker interviewed said: “In our department, it’s full of jeans and black dust. The temperature on the shop floor is high. It’s difficult to breathe. I feel like I’m working in a coal mine.”
The new research, based on interviews with workers in the factories themselves, also revealed that workers are exposed to other dangerous finishing techniques to distress denim, including hand-sanding, polishing, dye application and spraying chemicals such as potassium permanganate, with limited protective gear and inadequate training in the proper use of equipment.
Factory workers are forced to endure these dangerous conditions for up to 15 hours a day in order to make ends meet, with the basic minimum wage often as low as 1,100 yuan (€137, £116) a month.
Campaigners are calling for a mandatory global ban on sandblasting in the garment industry, along with improved protection for workers involved in all other denim finishing techniques.
The report was produced by IHLO, the Hong Kong Liaison Office of the international trade union movement; Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM), also based in Hong Kong; the global network Clean Clothes Campaign; and the workers’ rights pressure group War on Want.
The full report can be downloaded here
UPDATE FEBURARY 2013
The official death toll is now 262. After initial reports, the Pakistani government has now put the death toll at 262.
September 11th 2012
325 garment workers die in horrific garment factory fire in Karachi, Pakistan. The fire which broke out on Tuesday evening 11th September, has killed over 325 garment workers with reports that the death toll is expected to rise.
Reports from Pakistan indicate that poor building safety was responsible for the large death toll and that government inspectors had not visited any factories in the industrial zone where the fire took place. Unconfirmed reports indicate that well known brands were producing in the factory and Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland is awaiting documentary evidence of the same.
This is once again, a stark reminder of the real cost of the fast and cheap, disposable fashion we have become accustomed to. 325 people have been reported dead but this is expected to rise over the next few days. In this case as with the many others that continue to happen within the garment supply chain, these deaths could have been avoided. Emergency exits were absent or locked, and workers were trapped. This is the usual pattern. It is well known that many workplaces are unsafe, and that workers in key producing countries risk their lives on a daily basis producing clothes for Europe and the USA.
The Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland have introduced the Urgent Appeals campaigns to highlight those issues that most urgently need the public’s attention. Cymehemricomp CCCI are focusing on three campaigns, Deadly Denim, Free Somyot and Justice for Aminul Islam all of which call for actions by members the public to show their support and solidarity for human rights defenders in garment producing countries. However it is incidents like this tragic and needless loss of life that highlights the true cost of the fashion industry’s drive for low prices and high volume and is another reminder of the constant battle workers face to garner their basic human rights.
October 15th 2012
Ali Enterprises was awarded an SA8000 certificate of compliance despite never having been legally registered and having failed to provide employment contracts.
The SA8000 is an internationally recognised certificate of compliance awarded to factories that reach certain acceptable standards in the workplace.
Social Accountability International, the governing body which overseas the registration of auditors and certifying bodies has suspended it’s work with Italian based RINA Group who were directly responsible for accrediting the factory.
Read SAI response here
September 14th 2012
Pakistani authorities this morning have charged the factory owner and managers with murder.
ORLA GUERIN REPORT FROM KARACHI
Send your letter to the Pakistani Ambassador to Ireland.[emailpetition id=”3″]
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Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland can make a little go a long way and your donation will ensure we can continue to work with our Clean Clothes Campaign partners across Europe to strengthen global action on behalf of garment workers around the world.
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Co. No 4989423
SANDBLASTING IN THE DENIM INDUSTRY
Sandblasting is a process applied to give jeans their worn-out look. The process blasts denim with sand at high pressure to wear away the top surface of the textile and has long been practiced in the global garment industry. The effect became increasingly popular in jean trends over the past decade adding considerable value to the final product.
While other techniques such as stone-washing or enzyme treatments result in the same effects, the relative low cost, simple techniques and more importantly the speed that orders can be completed, sandblasting remains a favoured process in the fast fashion industry.
Sandblasting has long been linked to the fatal lung disease silicosis. According to the World Health Organisation it is one of the oldest occupational diseases and still kills thousands of people every year, everywhere in the world.
It is an incurable lung disease caused by inhalation of dust containing free crystalline silica. It is irreversible and, moreover, the disease progresses even when exposure stops. Extremely high exposures are associated with much shorter latency and more rapid disease progression.
Sandblasting was traditionally a process used in the mining and construction industry and strict restrictions and regulations have been imposed on these industries since the ILO/WHO International Programme on the Global Elimination of Silicosis, launched in 1995.
But while miners and construction workers could be expected to develop silicosis after 15 to 20 years of exposure, due to the lack of regulations, health and safety standards and the intensity of production, silicosis has been diagnosed in garment workers after as little as 6 months exposure.
DEADLY DENIM REPORT 2012
As a result of the Clean Clothes Campaign’s 2010 ‘Killer Jeans’ campaign, many companies have banned the use of sandblasting in their clothing lines, but a new CCC report reveals that regardless of whether a brand has ‘banned’ sandblasting or not, sandblasting – both manual and mechanical – is still commonly used.
Download the CCC Deadly Denim report here.
CALL FOR ACTION
The Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland is asking;
Retailers to publicly ban the use of sandblasting in their supply chains .
WHO / ILO to recognise the garment industry in its Programme on the Global Ellimination of Silicosis
For the Irish government to ban the importation of sandblasted denim into Ireland and to propose the wider EU import ban of the same during it’s EU presidency in 2013.
Support our call for the Irish Government to stand up for the lives of garment workers around the world.
Copy, paste and send the below e-mail to your local TD
Dear Sir / Madam,
I am a supporter of the Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland, a coalition organisation set up in 2010 by Re-dress, Trócaire, MANDATE, ICTU and Cómhlámh to promote and campaign for fair and transparent labour practices within the global clothing supply chain.
Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland is the part of an international alliance of organisations, NGO’s, and trade unions operating in 16 European countries with a network of over 200 global partners. The Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland works together with these partners to conduct research into conditions for workers on the factory floors in garment producing countries and examine retailer policies and business practices that affect them.
As my local TD and Dáil representative, I am writing to you today to ask you to show your support of the Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland’s campaign in the Dáil and join the call for an import ban of a clothing product which is costing the lives of thousands of garment workers each year.