LIVING WAGE NOW Forum – October 12 – 14th 2015

Living Wage Now Forum in Brussels from 12 – 14 October 2015

Support garment workers as they campaign for a living wage now!
Support garment workers as they campaign for a living wage now!

From October 12 to 14, 2015, Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) organises the Living Wage Now Forum in Brussels. For three days, CCC will take the next steps together with officials from major fashion brands, workers’ representatives from around the world and European policy makers and work towards a living wage for all garment workers.

Since 2013, the Clean Clothes Campaign network has actively supported the mobilisation for a living wage, bringing to Europe the voice of the garment workers worldwide.

Nearly three years on and the campaign has paid off with a  global movement for a living wage consolidating and businesses and policy makers committed to a common goal.

But commitment alone is not enough. Millions of workers still live in unbearable conditions. Most of the women stitching our clothes earn only 20% to 30% of a living wage. The Living Wage Now Forum will be a unique experience that will take stock of the progress made since the beginning of this unprecedented global campaign, but especially encourage brands and politicans to finally move from rhetoric to action.

 

WHO PARTICIPATES?

More than 200 participants

35 representatives of workers’ organizations from around the world;

49 representatives of the Clean Clothes Campaign global network;

8 international brands (H&M, Inditex/Zara, C&A, Tchibo, Tesco, N’Brown, New Look, Pentland, Primark) and 5 Belgian brands (E5 Mode, JBC, Lola & Liza Stanley & Stella, Bel & Bo)

Several members of the European Parliament, and Mr. Klaus Rudischhauser, Deputy Director General for Development and Cooperation;

Representatives of international organizations such as the ILO and the OECD;

Academics and representatives of organizations active in the field of business and human rights.

 

You can find the full program here:

http://www.livingwagenow.eu/uploads/images/LWN%20Forum%20program01102015.pdf

 

Here you find information about some of the speakers and more:

http://www.livingwagenow.eu/forum

Benetton continues to deny compensation to Rana Plaza victims

Benetton continues to refuse to pay compensation to Rana Plaza victims
Benetton continues to refuse to pay compensation to Rana Plaza victims

Benetton targeted over Rana Plaza compensation on International Human Rights Day.

Labour rights campaigners across Europe and the USA are marking this years’ International Human Rights Day by calling on Italian fashion brand Benetton to finally pay into a fund set up to pay compensation to thousands of families affected by the Rana Plaza disaster in April 2013.

On and around 10 December 2014, activists will be participating in street actions in France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland and the U.S. demanding that Benetton immediately pay into a fund set up by the ILO to provide compensation to those injured in the collapse and the families of those killed. These street actions will be complimented by online actions from all over the world, coordinated through the launch of a new website by the Clean Clothes Campaign targeted at Benetton: https://payup.cleanclothes.org. Campaigners have also called on franchise holders of Benetton stores throughout Europe to support the campaign by asking the Benetton Group to take immediate action.

“We are using International Human Rights Day to remind citizens that compensation is a right for all workers and that until compensation is paid in full there will be no justice for the Rana Plaza workers,” said Deborah Lucchetti from the Campagna Abiti Puliti. “We are determined to continue our campaign until Benetton pays what it owes.”

Benetton is the only international brand with confirmed links to the Rana Plaza factories which has refused to contribute a single penny to the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund, set up by the ILO in January 2013 to finance compensation payments to over five thousand individuals who either lost a relative or were injured in the garment industry’s worst ever industrial disaster. Almost a year since the Fund was first opened it has collected just over $22 million, leaving a significant shortfall in the amount required to pay all of compensation awards.

The awards have been calculated and agreed by the Rana Plaza Co-ordination Committee, which brings together government, brands, trade unions and factory owners to oversee a system to deliver and calculate compensation awards in line with international standards. With the claims process now almost complete campaigners say that the lack of funding is now the only obstacle to delivering full compensation to everybody before the new year.

In 2013, the same year as the Rana Plaza collapse, Edizione S.r.l., a company under the full control of the Benetton family and which owns the Benetton Group, earned profits of  €139 million.  Benetton is being asked to contribute $5 million to the Fund, an amount campaigners believe is proportional given the clear links between Benetton and one of the factories at Rana Plaza and the huge profits made by the company.

“Collectively the brands linked to Rana Plaza earn billion of dollars in profit from selling clothes – only a tiny fraction of this is needed to ensure justice for Rana Plaza victims” said Ilona Kelly of the Clean Clothes Campaign. “Given the exorbitant collective wealth of the Benetton family, and the continued profits of their investment company Edizione, surely they can afford to give just $5 million of that to the Rana Plaza victims”.

German Retailer KIK continues to deny full compensation for victims of three deadliest garment industry tragedies in history

German retailer KIK continue to delay paying full compensation to victims of the two deadliest garment factory disasters in history

 

Today, marks the second anniversary of the fatal fire at Ali Enterprises garment factory in Karachi, Pakistan, which killed at least 254 garment workers and injured 55. Two years on, the victims families and the survivors are still waiting for the compensation they are entitled to.

Just weeks before the fire, the factory was audited on behalf of Italian social audit firm RINA for SAI (Social Accountability International) SA8000 certification – and passed – even though it had no emergency exits, barred windows, was not registered and had an entire illegal mezzanine floor built on.

The survivors and victims families fate is shared with the families of more than 1,300 garment workers who have been killed in unsafe workplaces in Asia since the Ali Enterprises fire, and the thousands more who survived fires and building collapses but whose lives have been changed forever.

German retailer KiK had clothes produced in each of the three factories to witness the greatest loss of life – Ali Enterprises, Tazreen Fashions and Rana Plaza – and yet to date has failed to provide full and fair compensation for all the victims.

In December 2012 KIK, the only known buyer at Ali Enterprises factory, signed a memorandum of understanding with the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) committing an initial US$1 million for immediate relief and agreeing to negotiations surrounding the amount required to pay compensation. However the negotiation is being delayed by KiK, who most recently pulled out at the last minute of planned negotiations in July and compensation remains unpaid.

KIK has committed US$1 million to the Rana Plaza Donor Trust Fund, just a fifth of what Clean Clothes Campaign estimates they owe, based on their annual turnover. And for the victims of Tazreen Fashions they have failed to contribute a cent.

 “KIK were sourcing from the factories involved in three of history’s deadliest tragedies – Tazreen, Ali Enterprises and then or course Rana Plaza, – these were not accidents, these were the result of continuous price pressures by discount retailers like KIK causing factory owners to cut corners and to keep pay at poverty levels, forcing workers to risk their lives to keep their families from destitution. Over 1,600 people died in these three tragedies and two years later the injured workers and surviving families are barely able to make ends meet. KIK must pay full and fair compensation to all those who have paid the highest price for KIK’s low cost products, their refusal to accept their responsibility for full compensation just prolongs the suffering of the very people their profits are built on.” Kate Nolan, Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland

The tragedies in the garment industry over the last two years have highlighted the urgent need for a more long term and sustainable compensation system for workplace accidents as per ILO standards and in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights right to remedy framework. The framework makes clear that “when … there is a failure to protect and respect human rights in the workplace then governments and companies must ensure effective remedies, including adequate compensatory payments.”

It is not charity that the survivors want, it is their right to full and fair compensation,” says Mr. Karamat Ali, Executive Director of PILER.

As workers and campaigners around the world hold candlelight vigils to commemorate those who died in the fire, Clean Clothes Campaign renews it’s call to KiK to resume negotiations based on the legally binding agreement with PILER, and pay up, ensuring all the victims families and survivors receive the compensation they are owed before another year passes.

 

Response to ‘cry for help’ notes found in Penneys garments.

Clean Clothes Campaign responds to recent stories of ‘calls for help’ found in Penneys clothing.

Over the past week there have been reports of notes for help or messages stitched into clothing sold by Irish retailer Penneys purportedly from workers suffering inhumane conditions in the production of clothes for the retail giant.

Clean Clothes Campaign, in response to the stories says, “It is difficult to know whether these notes are genuine. However speculation on the origin of the messages should not distract from the known reality which is that the conditions described – in particular long hours, poverty pay and unsafe working conditions – are a fact of life for the majority of women and men producing clothes for high street brands including Primark.

“As our recent reports, Tailored Wages 2014 and Stitched Up – Eastern Europe Report clearly demonstrate inhumane conditions and wages that full far short of a living wage are endemic in the industry and can be found from clothing factories in Bangladesh to Bulgaria, Cambodia to Croatia.

“Penneys are not alone in sourcing from these factories and it is important that Penneys and all clothing brands take action and put an end to exploitative and inhumane purchasing practices and ensure the people who make their clothes are paid a living wage in decent working conditions.

“To pay a decent living wage would cost a brand like Primark just 50 cents more paid directly to a worker. As these stories have shown, cheap fashion at the expense of another persons dignity does not lie comfortably in the mind of consumers.”

TAILORED WAGES – NEW REPORT INVESTIGATES LEADING RETAILERS’ WORK ON LIVING WAGES

Web Tailored Wages Image banner

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 hereTailored 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?”

AFW-Comparison-DEF-72dpi

 

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.

What should a living wage cover

 

 

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.

Global outcry against Cambodian violence towards workers.

Groups call on global clothing brands to use their influence to achieve an end to repression against workers involved in wage protests and the resumption of good-faith wage negotiations.

Labour rights groups condemn violence against garment workers in Cambodia

Labour rights groups and trade unions across the world are expressing outrage at the brutal violence and repression in Cambodia following demonstrations by garment and footwear workers calling for a raise in the minimum wage.

The groups, including Clean Clothes Campaign, International Labor Rights Forum, Worker Rights Consortium, Maquila Solidarity Network, United Students Against Sweatshops, International Union League for Brand Responsibility, Workers United, SEIU, Framtiden i våre hender, and CNV Internationaal, The Netherlands, are calling on global clothing brands to take immediate action and contact the Cambodian government demanding:

  • Immediate end to all violence and intimidation against workers and their representatives;
  • Release of all those who have been detained for participation in the struggles;
  • Respect for freedom of association and the workers’ right to strike;
  • Refraining from charging the workers and trade union leaders who have participated in the strike;
  • Resumption of good-faith minimum wage negotiations; and
  • Ensuring all those responsible for the violence against the strikers are held to account.

Violence against garment workers began after Cambodian unions called a national strike on December 24, 2013. Workers were demanding an increase in the minimum wage to USD 160 per month. As protests continued, the police and military responded with violence on January 2 and 3, killing at least 4 people and injuring almost 40.

Seven brands sent an open letter to the Government of Cambodia on January 7 expressing their concerns over the recent violence. It is commendable that these brands are willing to speak up and appalling that so many others have remained silent in the face of such blatant human rights violations in their sector. The letter did not go far enough however, in denouncing the reprehensible conduct of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, which has condoned the government’s use of deadly force against striking workers. As poverty wages are at the root of the demonstrations, global clothing brands must also recognise the role they play and take immediate action including:

  • Publicly stating that any future apparel and footwear orders in Cambodia depend on:
    • an immediate end to the violence against workers;
    • the release of all those detained in the wage protests and the dropping of all charges;
    • government re-establishing the right to strike and assemble;
  • Paying fair prices to factories, sufficient to enable employers to pay a decent wage;
  • Supporting the workers’ call for a substantial increase in the minimum wage (to USD 160); and
  • Committing to maintaining buying volumes from Cambodia if wages were to rise.

“Whilst our primary concern is the safety and well-being of those workers who have been detained, we are also calling on brands to look at the long-term implications of their purchasing practices.” said Jeroen Merk of the Clean Clothes Campaign. “Until brands recognise that these practices contribute to the poverty wages received by workers in Cambodia, and in turn the demonstrations we are witnessing, then no brand sourcing from Cambodia can claim to be acting fairly or decently.”

Cambodia’s garment industry employs over 500,000 people, is responsible for around 95% of Cambodia’s export industry and is worth €3.38 billion a year. The minimum wage falls a long way short of a living wage, and the poverty wages workers receive contribute to shocking levels of malnutrition amongst the mainly young female workforce.

“These latest horrific developments demonstrate why authorities can no longer afford to ignore the social problems and poor living conditions facing workers in Cambodia today,” said Tola Meoun, Head of Labor Programmes for the Cambodian NGO Community Legal Education Centre.

On Friday, January 10th, actions will take place at embassies and other locations around the world in a day of solidarity with Cambodian workers. As part of this day of action campaigners will call on the government of Cambodia to release those detained in the protests and resume minimum wage negotiations.

Update:

23 people have been detained. Until January 8, their whereabouts was unknown. Confirmation was received that they were being held in CC3 Prison, an isolated prison located two hours from Kampong Cham town northeast of the capital, Phnom Penh. The next bail hearing for the 23 detained is scheduled for next Tuesday, 11 February.

Sign the Petition in Support of these detained workers. The below email will be sent for the attention of the Cambodian Ambassedor stationed at the Cambodian Embassy in the UK.

[emailpetition id=”6″]

 

About 170 companies have filed cases against trade unions. About 180 workers in total have been dismissed across about 20 factories. Around 30 workers have been reinstated since then.

 

 

Uni Global Union Awards CCC with Freedom from Fear Award

The UNI Global Executive award the Clean Clothes Campaign with a ‘Freedom From Fear’ Award 2013.
ccc ireland uni global award

The award honours work by organisations who ‘break the cycle of violence against trade unionists and creating a safe environment for trade union work’ and was awarded to representatives from the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) and Workers Rights Consortium (WRC) for their work on The Bangladesh Building and Safety Accord. The Accord drove policy change in the wake of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in April 2013 and has resulted in 112 brands committing to the Safety Accord to date, covering at least 1,600 factories and securing the safety of over 2 million workers, mostly women, in Bangladesh.

Ineke Zeldenrust from the CCC says: ‘“The successful adoption of the Bangladesh Safety Accord by so many retailers is a great tribute to the tireless efforts of so many who long foresaw the terrible events witnessed in Bangladesh this April and to the incredible mobilisation of consumers and campaigners in direct response to such a tragedy. We are saddened that so many had to suffer such a terrible fate in order for retailers to react. Six months on  Rana Plaza and a year down the road from Tazreen,  we urge those retailers involved  to end the filibustering and come quickly to an agreement on compensation that will bring some relief to the suffering of the  families and survivors left behind.

Kate Nolan and Rosie O Reilly of CCC Ireland represented the Clean Clothes Campaign to collect the award at The Communication Workers’ Union, in William Norton House, Dublin 1, Wednesday 13th November. 

 

 

 

 

Congratulations! Over 30 Global Brands have signed the Bangladesh Safety Accord.

BlogImageCCCRanaPlaza

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Congratulations!

Thanks to you major steps have been made to protect garment workers in over 1000 Bangladeshi factories.

Over million people worldwide signed the petitions.

More than 1,100 people died in the Rana Plaza building collapse, Bangladesh’s largest industrial tragedy, sparking a worldwide debate on how to improve safety.

The Bangladesh Fire and Safety Accord was an opportunity to rectify the unacceptable risks currently faced by Bangladeshi garment workers because of poor standards on factory safety.

Work is now beginning on the implementation phase of the Accord. The aim is to have safety inspectors on the ground as quickly as possible in order to begin to fix the most urgent problems.

Primark has signed the Accord, along with 37 other retailers, including:
Abercrombie & Fitch, Marks and Spencer, Aldi North, Aldi South, Benetton, Bonmarche, C&A, Carrefour, Charles Vögele, Comtex, El Corte Inglés, Ernstings’s Family, Esprit, Fat Face, G-star, H&M, Hema, Inditex, jbc, John Lewis, Kik, Lidl, Loblaw, Mango, Mothercare, N Brown, New Look, Next, Otto Group, Primark, PVH, s.Oliver, Stockmann, Switcher, Tchibo, Tesco, V&D, We Europe

The next steps are to ensure compensation for the dead and injured of the Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh. Primark has already moved to provide compensation and emergency aid, but we need to call on the other brands to pay compensation.

Dunnes Stores continues to ignore correspondence and calls from TDs and Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland to sign the Accord. Here is a link to their Facebook page – why not ask them why they haven’t signed up yet?

More Good News!

We have more campaign success to announce. In a landmark victory, Adidas has agreed to compensate 2,800 Indonesian garment workers who were owed US $1.8 million in severance pay following the closure of sportswear factory PT Kizone in Indonesia. The agreement was reached in April and comes after two years of campaigning led by Kizone workers in Indonesia and labour rights activists worldwide, including the Clean Clothes Campaign.

Keeping in Touch!

You can also keep in touch with us and find out about campaigns and the latest news on Facebook and Twitter, which are updated regularly.

Images by Paul Roeland.

31 RETAILERS SIGN UP TO THE BANGLADESH AGREEMENT

Global Breakthrough as 31 Retail Brands sign up to Bangladesh Factory Safety Deal

16 May 2013 – The world’s leading retail labels commit to the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh before the  midnight deadline. The Accord now covers more than 1000 Bangladeshi garment factories. Implementation starts now!

Clean Clothes Campaign in a powerful alliance with leading unions IndustriALL Global Union and UNI Global Union, and Worker Rights Consortium have changed the rules of the game for workers in Bangladesh. We welcome the decision of the companies who have signed up to the Accord for acting responsibly in the aftermath of the Rana Plaza tragedy. Forty-eight hours ago H&M started the ball rolling and we now have the major global household brands on board.

As the countdown ended the following companies have signed on: H&M, Inditex, C&A, PVH, Tchibo, Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Primark, El Corte Inglés, Hess Natur, jbc, Mango, Carrefour, KiK, Helly Hansen, G-Star, Aldi, New Look, Next, Mothercare, Loblaws, Sainsbury’s, Benetton, N Brown Group, Stockmann,  WE Group, Esprit, Rewe, Lidl, Switcher and Abercrombie&Fitch.

Kate Nolan from Clean Clothes Campaign says: ‘The fact that so many brands have signed the legally enforceable safety Accord that has unions and workers at the centre will   bring historic change in the Bangladeshi  industry.  However, it is a shame that Gap and Walmart have not yet signed the Accord.  We strongly encourage them to reconsider their position, as the evidence shows that the programmes they are looking to adopt will completely fail to address the root causes of poor safety in the industry and will marginalise workers.  It is not too late for brands to sign the Accord which will mean workers no longer have to fear for their lives each time they enter their factory.

IndustriALL Global Union General Secretary, Jyrki Raina says, ‘The companies who signed up are to be applauded. H&M showed the way by being the first to sign this week. We will not close the door on brands who want to join the Accord after the deadline but we will be forging ahead with the implementation plan from today. Those who want to join later will not be in a position to influence decisions already made. The train moves on and these companies will drive the process – there can be no uncommitted passengers because the stakes are too high. We are talking improving the working conditions and lives of some of the most exploited workers in the world, earning $38 a month in dangerous conditions.’

UNI Global Union General Secretary, Philip Jennings says, ‘We made it! This accord is a turning point. We are putting in place rules that mark the end of the race to the bottom in the global supply chain.’

Commenting on the no-shows Jennings said, “Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, is out of step. By not signing up the Walmart brand sinks to a new low. We will go forward without them.

In agreeing to the binding programme of fire and building safety reforms based on independent inspections, worker-led health and safety committees and union access to factories, signatories commit to underwrite improvements in dangerous factories and properly confront fire safety and structural problems. Importantly the Accord grants workers the right to refuse dangerous work, in line with ILO Convention 155.

 

Conviction of Thai activist Somyot Prueksakasemsuk greeted with international condemnation.

somyot image-by-Karnt ThassanaphakImage by Karnt Thassanaphak

 

On January 22nd 2013 the Bangkok Criminal Court convicted Somyot Prueksakasemsuk on 2 counts of Article 112 of the Criminal Code (the lèse-majesté law*) and sentenced him to 11 years of imprisonment.

Clean Clothes Campaign, together with the Free Somyot Campaign and the Thai Labour Campaign strongly deplores the conviction of human rights defender and magazine editor Somyot Prueksakasemsuk.

Somyot is a prisoner of conscience. He was convicted solely for the exercise of his right to freedom of expression and opinion and the right to participate in public life. He has been in detention since April 2011 for the publication of two articles deemed insulting to the monarch. Today’s verdict is a serious blow to the rule of law in Thailand and will further contribute to self-censorship.

The verdict is a violation of international human rights law, in particularly the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Thailand has ratified. Currently, Thailand is running for a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. CCC recalls that the UN Charter urges the General Assembly, where the election takes place, to consider candidates’ contribution “to the maintenance of international peace and security and to the other purposes of the Organization,” (article 23.1 on criteria of membership of UNSC) including “respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms” (article 1.3 of the UN Charter).

If Thailand is to be in compliance with its binding international legal obligations to respect and protect basic rights, this unjust verdict against Somyot should be promptly overturned on appeal. Additionally, while the appeal is being considered, his constitutional right to provisional release should be upheld so that he could reunite with his family, better attend to his medical conditions, and adequately prepare for his defense.

One political prisoner is one too many. CCC calls on Thailand to free Somyot and all other persons detained on politically-motivated charges and end all forms of harassment against them.

*Thailand’s lèse-majesté law prohibits any word or act, which “defames, insults, or threatens the King, the Queen, the Heir-apparent, or the Regent”.
This law places the country in contravention of its international legal obligations to uphold international standards of freedom of expression.