"You have to have faith for this to work on me Mr. Vincent!"
Stars for Workers in Fashion Revolution Murcia 2019 – 21/05/2019
We were honoured to particpate in the Fashion Revolution Murcia 2019. Colectivo Modalogía, Traperos de Emaús y Proyecto de Abraham organized a memorable event in Murcia to promote ethical and sustainable fashion.
Several activities were achieved, as follows:
1.Traperos de Emaús performed an emotional work that denounced situations of slavery, called «Down the Walls».
2. A market of Upcycling allowed shopping nice second-hand clothes.
3. The «Colectivo Modalogía» built an interchange room where participants could trade a maximum of five garments.
4. We participated in a round table of good practices. Our collaborators Sultana Rajia and Mayte Saavedra represented our project, introducing our educational program, that it will be developed in the following months. We shared our thoughts with the workers «Asociación Aparadoras de Elche» and the high-school project «Which secrets fashion hides»? from the IES Miguel Hernández (Alhama de Murcia).
It was a great experieence, thank you for giving us the opportunity to live it with a lot of people working for improving the fashion industry.
Nike could pay a decent living wage to their workers while remaining highly profitable 05/11/2018
A recent published research has shown that Nike could have paid a decent living wage to its workers in 2001 and still remained highly profitable. The paper analyses the average wages reported by Nike in 2001 and in its financial statements, showing that the brand could have doubled or tripled the wages of workers while maintaining a high net income. This is a paradigmatic case for the sector, and a unique opportunity to prove that paying a decent living wage is possible without suffering losses.
As author stated, the leading brand names in the garment industry could pay a decent living wage to their workers while remaining highly profitable. Maybe this is the reason why there is no public data available regarding worker wages along all the steps of the supply chains, with the exception of this unique case published by Nike in 2001.
A new research from CCC shows that H&M has clearly broken its promise to pay living wages:
«In 2013, H&M published its “Roadmap towards fair living wages” and gave 850,000 workers hope of a living wage by 2018. The roadmap presented four strategies that would, according to H&M, lead to a fair living wages for workers in their supply chain: 1) supporting factory owners in developing pay structures that enable the payment of fair living wages, 2) improving purchasing practices to ensure it enables suppliers to pay their workers for the true cost of labour, 3) encouraging governments to engage in a process to identify a living wage level, set a minimum wage accordingly and review wages annually thereafter, 4) supporting workers to ensure they have access to education, skill enhancement and improving their bargaining position through ensuring that democratically elected worker representatives are in place.”
The evidence showed in this research is far away its promise, and continues indicating a situation of labor exploitation, at least in the factories investigated across four countries: Bulgaria, Turkey, Cambodia and India.
Our recall for putting pressure to celebrities is being widespread in other campaigns:
«Since 2015, 2,000 laid-off Indonesian workers who made clothes for UNIQLO and other companies have been waiting for USD 5.5 million of unpaid wages and severance pay. That must make Roger Federer – known for his sense of fairness – cry as much as it does us. That is why at www.hello-roger.ch/en fans and activists are calling on the tennis star to join an urgent international action to make his new sponsor change its stance. Public Eye and Clean Clothes Campaign are criticizing UNIQLO for failing to live up to its social responsibility towards the affected women and men by refusing to negotiate with Indonesian trade unions over compensation for former factory workers.”
A report from the Financial Times shows the unfair conditions of workers in factories of Leicester (UK), where exploitation es pervasive.
«Some factories are operating under conditions that are “more reminiscent of the 19th century than the 21st.” A “bizarre microeconomy” has consequently emerged, “where larger factories using machines are outcompeted by smaller rivals using underpaid humans.” The report describes derelict-looking buildings housing multiple factories, all crammed together and playing host to hundreds of workers paid well below the UK minimum wage, which is currently £7.83 for everyone over the age of 25. O’Connor writes: “Part of Leicester’s garment industry has become detached from UK employment law, “a country within a country”, as one factory owner puts it, where “‘£5 an hour is considered the top wage’, even though that is illegal.”
«This just really highlights that poor working conditions is an endemic and systemic problem for the fashion industry, not just in Asia or Central America where we think of sweatshops existing, but in our own communities. It really hits home the fact that fashion brands and retailers don’t have robust enough due diligence processes to monitor factory conditions.”
Ethical and sustainable entrepreneurship in the textile sector; Conference at the Technical University of Cartagena 17/04/2018
Stars for Workers has organized a conference entitled: «Ethical and sustainable entrepreneurship in the textile sector», addressed to the business students of the Technical University of Cartagena (Spain).
Paloma García from The Circular Project and Paula Gorini from Arroparte Moda Eco-logiK, have explained their way of doing business to an expectant auditory. The conference speakers have showed students the viability of projects based on core values such as sustainability and ethics.
Students have asked speakers about their marketing plan, the effect of their business in creating jobs and about the feasibility of local production in a global economy. In addition, at the end of the conference some participants have showed their support to the Fashion Revolution movement.
Ethiopia; the next place for wild garment capitalism
In the «race to the bottom» madness that drives the dark side of the garment industry, Ethiopia is the next stage. The next place to go seeking cheap labour costs: » These are mostly women, who’ve taken long, dusty bus rides here from small villages and waited for hours to apply for jobs with a base salary of about $25 a month».
«Lured by tax incentives, promises of infrastructure investment, and ultracheap labor, countries the Western world once outsourced production to, particularly China and Sri Lanka, are now the middlemen ramping up production here for Guess, Levi’s, H&M, and other labels. These industrialists like Ethiopia because the government wants them as much as they want cheap labor and tax breaks. The Hawassa Industrial Park’s inauguration is only the most recent part of a vast centralized scheme: Since 2014, Ethiopia has opened four giant, publicly owned industrial parks; it plans eight more by 2020».
«One Ethiopian college graduate, who doesn’t want her name used because she fears reprisal, describes falling into a depression during a six-week stint supervising 40 women on an Indochine line producing trousers. “Whenever workers didn’t meet a goal, the bosses would yell,” she says. In response, the women slowed down, hid in the bathroom, or went outside for air instead of working faster. Several times, she says, she witnessed a seamstress being hit on the back. When they had to work on their only day off or stay late, she adds, they didn’t receive the overtime promised. (Pattar says he’s unaware of any pay issues or physical attacks.) “I told my bosses, ‘The employees are not trained or qualified. You can’t expect them to deliver 120 pieces per hour. If you push them, they will just damage the products.’ ” She quit and now works at the front desk of a hotel, where she earns $63 a month, slightly more than at the factory».
More than 1600 garment workers fainted in 22 factories in Cambodia during 2017, of which 1599 were women. This means an increase of more than 400 from the previous year.
«NSSF director Ouk Samvithya called on all factories to regularly inspect and maintain ventilation systems one hour before the workers enter the building and ensure the management of chemical smells inside and outside the building. In addition, goods inside the factory must be stored in a manner not blocking ventilation, thermostats must be installed, infirmaries and emergency facilities must be prepared, and steam systems must be up to code. It added the cause of fainting included chemical problems, psychosocial problems, poor ventilation, blocked air flow, mechanical problems, irregular consumption of food and too much work.
Fa Saly, president of the National Trade Union Confederation, asked the government to continue paying attention to the health of workers: “The government should thoroughly examine the fabric and surrounding environmental issues, especially the heat because it has gotten hot recently making it difficult for workers,” he said. “Another thing is food. They are still eating insufficient food because wages are limited, which puts them at risk of fainting.”
The work of the Global Union and the pressure of all the stakeholder asking for improving labour conditions in the supply chain in Bangladesh has yielded a new settlement of US$2.3 million with a multinational brand.
«The brand, which cannot be named under the terms of the settlement, has agreed to pay $2 million towards remediation of more than 150 garment factories in Bangladesh. The apparel maker will contribute a further US$300,000 into IndustriALL and UNI’s joint Supply Chain Worker Support Fund, established to support the work of the global unions to improve pay and conditions for workers in global supply chains. The global unions brought the case to the Permanent Court of Arbitration arguing that the brand did not require its factories to remedy hazards in a timely manner—leaving thousands of workers in dangerous conditions. The unions also charged that the brand did not ensure that it was financially feasible for its factories to fix ongoing safety issues, as required by the Accord»
In a very interesting article written by Jenny Tsiropoulou, the situation of women textile workers in Tunisia is depicted. Crisis has been knocking out the industry in the last years, where the conditions of workers were sadly similar to other slave-like places, as one woker said:
«There was immense exploitation. We were forced to work 10 hours per day, seven days per week for less than the minimum wage. We were entitled to a one-hour lunch break, but whoever exceeded 30 minutes had to work extra time. The chief locked us inside in order to complete our shift. If I refused, the next day I was punished, having to stand against the wall for hours. The owner accused us of being unskillful, cutting our pays. He humiliated us and took away our dignity».
But the article illustrates the case of Mamotex, a garment factory where workers have taken the power to manage their future, against a situation where the owner was prone to close and to leave them withouth their jobs and several unpaid wages. Fortunately, the courage of the workers that firstly formed a trade union, is an example of how the stuggle can improve labour conditions and draw a brighter future. But the difficulties still remain, an the article explains why.
During this time, we have received almost 200k visits in our website, and the core of our mission has been widely disseminated.
We are also proud to have received support from many recognized organizations, activists, researchers and social entrepreneurs around the world. Thanks to all of them for helping to make people aware about this topic.
Moreover, we had the honour of being invited to the European Parliament to introduce our project and to support the “EU flagship initiative on the garment sector”, to establish a regulatory framework in the European Union with a view to increasing the transparency in the supply chain, change product labeling to inform the consumer of who produces the clothing and under what working conditions, reward tariffs with sustainable production, and prevent human rights being violated, with special emphasis on the case of women.
During this time, we have also known that some other interesting initiatives were launched, which share some commonalities with Stars for Workers. For example, the NFL player Michael Bennett lead the creation of “Athletes for Impact”, and the football player Juan Mata headed the born of “Common Goal”. All these projects are laudable, but they did not address our mission and vision. Consecuently, Stars for Workers keeps still alive.
We have several reasons of being satisfied with the development of our project. Considering that our initiative is totally independent, it is not funded by nobody and we have extremely scarce resources, we think we have contributed to improve the visibility of this problem. However, we admit there are some issues that we have not properly addressed.
First, we have not got enough coverage in the mass media. Several mass media misprized our initiative and they did not cover the release of our campaign. In addition, the vast majority of journalists we contacted were not interested in Stars for Workers. We strongly believe that the power of brands and the fear to disturb celebrities are the main reasons for that. This fact has been specially dramatic for us in the sports industry, where we focused the majority of targets; Only one sports journalist has been brave enough to say publicly that celebrities should take a step forward regarding this issue.
Second, we failed to get people involved in the Retweets of messages to celebrities. In spite of dozens of thousands visits to our website, people were reluctant to only click in the Retweet button to ask celebrites for a change in their behaviour. Only a click, only one second for doing that. Even organizations and persons linked to the movement of slow fashion, fair trade, living wages and sustainability were reluctant to do it. So, we critically asume that, probably, this is not a proper strategy. And we think again that people are clearly afraid to do something that could disturb a celebrity. We are dissapointed for that, because social psychology clearly tell us that social pressure is a powerful way to address changes.
And third, we did not obtain responses from any celebrity. We know that many of them employ a community manager system for the social media, but when the pressure is enough they personally know what is happening in Twitter. Only the athlete Jarrion Lawson “liked” one of our tweets, but we obtained silence for the rest. In addition, we contacted with several ex athletes to ask for them to be “ambassadors” of our message. Although they are not currently linked to brands, they preferred to do nothing regarding our propo,sal. Anyway, we trust that our efforts to make celebrities aware about the need of change could inspire them towards good moves in the future to come.
Consequently we have stopped our campaign of messages, and we are going to start a more succint campaign called “Switch”, in order to inspire celebrities to make change, but without targeting any celebrity directly. “Switch” is what we are calling. Celebrities should break up with brands exploting workers and renounce to the money gained for being ambassadors of such brands, and “Switch” to endorse brands paying a living wage, as we demand in our Ethical Endorsement program.
Help us to change the rules of this industry, and disseminate “Switch”. Thanks.
A new report published by the Clean Clothes Campaign, Europe’s Sweatshops, documents endemic poverty wages and other stark working conditions in the garment and shoe industry throughout Eastern and South-Eastern Europe.
«For the global fashion brands, the countries in East and South-East Europe are a low wage paradise. Many brands even tout the fact they are “Made in Europe”, suggesting this means ‘fair’ conditions. In reality, many of the 1.7 million garment workers in the region live in poverty, face perilous work conditions, including forced overtime, and have accumulated significant debts.
These European sweatshops offer cheap, yet experienced and qualified workers. Far too often the monthly wages earned by the mostly women workforce only just meet the legal minimum monthly wages, which vary between 89 EUR in the Ukraine to 374 EUR in Slovakia. An actual living wage, so that a family could pay for basic needs, would need to be about four to five times higher. For instance, this would mean earning around 438 EUR a month in the Ukraine.
The legal minimum wages in the region are actually below the respective official poverty lines and subsistence levels for these countries. The consequences are brutal. “Sometimes, we simply have nothing to eat”, said a woman working in a garment factory in Ukraine. Another worker in Hungary stated, “Our wages are just enough to pay for energy, water and heating bills”.
It is clear that major international fashion brands are profiting substantially from this low wage system. The factories featured in the report produced for many global brands like Benetton, Esprit, GEOX, Triumph and Vera Moda, amongst others».
Ask celebrities for their implication: Messages at November, 2017 31/10/2017
We have just published the 12 new stars corresponding to November, 2017. It is important you retweet all our tweets in order to increase pressure on these celebrities and to try to inspire them. We will inform if stars reply to the messages.
Juan Mata’s new charitable initiative: Common Goal 26/10/2017
The Manchester United star is leading a drive to donate a percentage of footballers’ earnings to good causes around the world. As goal reports:
«Global football is more awash with money than ever, and Manchester United star Juan Mata is leading a drive to give back to the communities that raised today’s stars by redistributing a small percentage of those resources to charitable causes around the world. The initiative has been dubbed Common Goal. Common Goal is a charitable movement run by streetfootballworld that was launched with the support of Mata. Mata announced in an article for The Players’ Tribune that he was pledging one per cent of his salary to Common Goal, and called for other players to do the same. That money will be put towards «high-impact football charities from around the world».
«Streetfootballworld has built an international network of 120 such organisations that tackle social issues ranging from gender equality in India to peacebuilding in Colombia to refugee integration in Germany». The long-term aim is to «unlock 1% of the entire football industry’s revenues for grassroots football charities that strengthen their communities through sport .At the time of writing, 16 players and one coach have joined Mata in pledging at least 1% of their salaries to Common Goal».
«The fact that we have added another three players to Common Goal in the last 11 days shows the growing potential of this movement,» Mata said after Stuttgart’s Dennis Aogo pledged 2% of his earnings to the cause.»I believe more than ever before that football can change the world. But, just like on the pitch, we need to work together. This is exactly what we’re doing with Common Goal.»
From Stars for Workers we are wishing success to this initiative, but we stress that we are working for a related aim since the year before. Unlike Common Goal, we are independent from any private corporation, and we focus on workers making the clothes and their families. We hope some football players also worry about workers who make the clothes, but no one has accepted until now.
Global unions, IndustriALL and UNI, sign with fashion brands the second Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety. As industriall-union reports:
“The extension of the Bangladesh Accord is currently the only credible way to ensure that life-threatening hazards are identified and remediated in garment factories. So far, almost 50 brands using 1,173 ready-made garment factories, have committed to signing the 2018 Accord with IndustriALL and UNI. The 2018 Accord extends the legally-binding commitment to factory safety in Bangladesh for three more years».
IndustriALL and UNI called on brands to sign the 2018 Accord by 7 October, the World Day for Decent Work, but as Industriall indicates, many have failed to do so.
«The first Bangladesh Accord, which expires next May, was launched in the wake of the Rana Plaza collapse in April 2013 that killed 1,134 workers and injured 2,500 more.. The 2018 Accord builds on the achievements of the first agreement. It also adds new worker protections and ensures that many more factories will be inspected and renovated, as signatory brands add suppliers. Currently, nearly 80 per cent of workplace dangers discovered in the Accord’s original round of inspections have been remediated, and 500 Accord factories have completed 90 percent or more of the necessary fixes.”
Workers at the Bravo Tekstil factory complex in Istanbul, Turkey are demanding their back wages and severance after working without payment for three months followed by the sudden shutdown of their factory. As CCC reports:
“The workers have sought justice in Turkish court and won their case. Legally they are owed the full three months of wages and severance payments. As over one year since the closure of the factory in July 2016 there is no satisfactory solution in sight yet, the workers, supported by the union, decided to launch an online petition. They are calling upon conscious consumers to support their campaign for reimbursement for their three months of unpaid labour.
Sudden factory closures are not uncommon in the garment industry, in which competition is fierce and capital flexible. Within the garment industry supply chain, power is concentrated at the top, where major brands such as Zara, Next and Mango make high profits and have a lot of leverage over the factories vying for their orders. Past precedents in Indonesia, Cambodia and Latin America, involving major brands such as adidas, Nike, H&M and Walmart, have shown that brands can and should take responsibility to ensure that abandoned workers in their supply chain are paid their legally owed back wages and severance.”
Ask celebrities for their implication: Messages at October, 2017 28/09/2017
We have just published the 12 new stars corresponding to October, 2017. It is important you retweet all our tweets in order to increase pressure on these celebrities and to try to inspire them. We will inform if stars reply to the messages.
At least six people killed in a textile factory at Bangladesh 24/09/2017
A new tragedy in the textile industry at Bangladesh. As La Vanguardia reports:
“ At least six people were killed in a textile factory near Dhaka, where more than 300 workers were found at the time of the incident, oficial sources said.” «We have found six corpses on two floors of the factory. We haven´t information about were more people inside,»
The fire took place around 10 am local time (04.00 GMT), during full working hours at the Ideal Textile Mills factory in Munshiganj, a town near the Bangladesh capital.
!In August a court in Dhaka sentenced the owner of the textile complex Rana Plaza to three years in prison, in what marks the first sentence related to the biggest textile tragedy in Bangladesh».
Clean Clothes Campaing (CCC) claims again that garment factories in Pakistan remain unsafe workplaces, five years since Ali Enterprises tragedy
«The fire at the Ali Eterprises factory and its high death toll clearly revealed the urgent need for signficant change within the Pakistani and global garment industry. The fire painfully illustrated how corporate auditing systems were inadequate in identifying, documenting and remediating vital safety defects, thereby saving workers’ lives. Only weeks before the lethal fire, the factory was granted a SAI8000 certification as a result of an audit carried out by RINA, a private auditing company, which included a check on safety standards. Despite this clear failure of the mainstream auditing and certification practice, the industry continues to rely on the same ineffective systems and auditing firms».
And CCC is clear in its statement: «Yet, over the past five years there has been no discernable progress towards adopting such mechanisms and addressing the problems that led to the Ali Enterprises factory fire».
«The German low-cost retailer KiK – the only known buyer at the Ali Enterprises factory – recently created a safety programme, but their programme is opaque and provides no accountability mechanisms. Given KiK’s relationship with the Ali Enterprises factory and the fact that a signifcant portion of their clothes continue to be made in Pakistan, KiK bears a major responsibility towards ensuring Pakistani garment factory safety. The work towards full justice for the families affected by the Ali Enterprises factory disaster remains in progress. Last year, on the eve of the fourth anniversary of the fire, global stakeholders came to an agreement to organize compensation for loss of income and medical costs for the affected families. As part of this agreement KiK has paid over five million dollars, to be distributed through an ILO-organized process».
Ask celebrities for their implication: Messages at September, 2017 28/08/2017
We have just published the 12 new stars corresponding to September, 2017. It is important you retweet all our tweets in order to increase pressure on these celebrities and to try to inspire them. We will inform if stars reply to the messages.
Alta Gracia announces a partnership with the Dallas Cowboys 20/07/2017
Alta Gracia, one of the most interesting cases of producing ethicall apparel, has announced a partnership with the NFL team Dallas Cowboys. We reproduce the note provided by the company:
«Alta Gracia, based in Spartanburg, SC and a leader in ethically produced apparel, today announced a partnership with Dallas Cowboys Merchandising, Ltd. and 289c Apparel, Ltd. to develop a new line of garment dyed T-shirts. The line will be available this fall where Dallas Cowboys fan apparel is sold. It will also be part of 289c officially licensed apparel lines for The University of Texas at Austin and the University of Southern California.
Alta Gracia, based in Villa Altagracia in the Dominican Republic, employs approximately 140 workers and primarily manufactures apparel for the university market. Founded in 2010 by Joe Bozich and Donnie Hodge as part of Knights Apparel, it was set up specifically to be a model facility paying a living wage and promoting worker empowerment. Currently Alta Gracia operates as a stand-alone privately held company. Alta Gracia utilizes raw materials from the United States and U.S.-based post-garment processing. Alta Gracia’s business model has been the subject of many college and business school studies including: the University of Michigan (Ross School of Business), Georgetown University, Harvard University, MIT S-Lab (Sloan School of Business Sustainability Lab) and Emory University (Goizuela School of Business).
In partnership with the Dallas Cowboys Merchandising, Ltd. and 289c Apparel, Ltd., Alta Gracia is looking to expand its manufacturing product line and broaden its customer base by launching a new Blank division to augment their direct licensed collegiate business. Donnie Hodge, CEO, owner, and co-founder stated, «The Cowboys reached out to us and indicated they wanted to support Alta Gracia in a significant way and worked with us to help us launch this new initiative. Rather than giving us a token order, they made it clear from the first conversation they wanted a meaningful partnership and were willing to work with us on what was best for us.» Mr. Hodge and Bill Priakos, President of Dallas Cowboys Merchandising, Ltd. and 289c Apparel, Ltd., have been exploring various approaches that would be the right fit for the three businesses. For DCM and 289c, this partnership allows the businesses to focus on a complete product line with one factory. Mr. Priakos said about the new partnership, We’re excited about the product we are creating with Alta Gracia and proud to partner with such a leader in the industry. On behalf of the Jones family and the entire Dallas Cowboys organization, we are pleased to be able to support Alta Gracia, said Jerry Jones Jr., Chief Sales and Marketing Officer of the Dallas Cowboys.
Scott Nova, Executive Director of the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) stated, In the fifteen year history of codes of conduct and monitoring programs despite hundreds of thousands of factory audits and vast proliferation of corporate social responsibility programs the simple fact is that no major apparel brand has ever done what is being done at the Alta Gracia factory. This commitment will provide vital support to a Brand that gives hope to garment workers worldwide; and is the only factory certified by the WRC. Lots of clothing brands claim to be socially responsible. What Alta Gracia does isn’t talk, it’s real. A living wage transforms workers lives«.
Clean Clothes Campaing (CCC) has published an open letter to Adidas and Mizuno regarding the fighting of 345 workers who were dismissed for participating in a strike five years ago. We reproduce the letter in the following lines:
«Five years ago today, more than 2,000 workers from the Indonesian PT Panarub Dwikarya (PDK) factory, part of the Panarub Group, went on strike to protest against their employer’s refusal to implement the provincial sectoral wage, the denial of their right to freedom of association and bad working conditions at the workplace. During the strike, the workers were confronted with police violence and intimidation. When the strike was over and workers tried to return to work, they reported being threatened and forced to quit their union. On the 23rd of July 2012, 1,300 workers who participated in the strike were dismissed by the factory.
Five years after the strike, your businesses are still operational and profitable. Adidas reported record sales and earnings in 2016 and Mizuno earned 59.2 billion Yen on footwear in 2016. The Panarub group remains one of your key suppliers in Indonesia. However, 345 ex-PDK workers are still fighting for a full severance package that will compensate them for being unfairly dismissed. Their termination had devastating impacts on their lives: some workers’ children had to leave school as they could not pay the tuition fee, some workers were evicted from their homes as they could not pay the rent and for others the economic stress of unemployment led to the breakdown of their marriages. Many workers were forced to accept work as contract workers or casual labourers in the formal and informal economies, employed on a daily basis or on temporary contracts. Some are in debt and others are blacklisted by companies because of their previous employment at PT Panarub Dwikarya.
Both your companies were aware that freedom of association and wage violations were ongoing at PT Panarub Dwikarya before and at the time of the strike. However, your responses – while different – have been wholly inadequate. Mizuno conducted an investigation into the reported violations, but concluded that their supplier committed no violation in dismissing the 1,300 workers concerned. In response to the decision of PT Panarub Dwikarya to ask a waiver delaying the implementation of the 2012 sectoral wage in their Tangerang factory, adidas simply instructed the Panarub group to no longer subcontract their orders to this particular location. However, production of adidas shoes continued at Panarub Industry and Panarub Dwikarya during the time of the wage violations in 2012, and at the exact moment that the leadership of the newly formed trade union SBGTS-GSBI was dismissed in February and March that year. Although adidas assisted with the appointment of a mediator, with the intention of supporting a resolution of the conflict between union and management following the strike, they allowed that process to fail without further intervention or consequence.
Following the failure of both the Indonesian government and your companies to respond adequately to the violations at PT Panarub Dwikarya, the trade union filed a complaint with the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association. The interim report compiled by the Committee is very clear about the fact that the company had not paid several months of wages, and that “to strike in order to demand better working conditions constitutes a legitimate trade union activity”. As such the strike could not be declared “illegal” by the employer, and worker dismissals based on participation in the strike can not be justified. The ILO has requested the Indonesian government “to initiate an independent inquiry to address the allegations of anti-union termination of 1,300 workers and to determine the real motives behind these measures”. “Should it be found that they were terminated for legitimate trade union activities”, the ILO urges the government “to take the necessary measures to ensure that the workers are fully compensated, if indeed reinstatement is not possible due to the company’s closure.”
While the ILO mandate is restricted to addressing governments and not addressing businesses, the UN guiding principles on Business and Human Rights clearly state that it is the responsibility of internationally operating companies, irrespective of the actions of the state, to ensure that human rights are respected throughout their supply chains. Companies should use, and if needed increase, their leverage over business partners to end human rights violations, mitigate the adverse impacts and contribute to the provision of remedy. Yet both adidas and Mizuno have failed to either end or mitigate the impacts of these violations, and are refusing to contribute to appropriate remedy in their failure to ensure that the ex-PDK workers receive full severance in this case.
Adidas has claimed that it has done all that can be expected from a buying company, because it had stopped its subcontracted orders in PT Panarub Dwikarya by the time the strike took place. Furthermore, adidas had requested Panarub to engage in mediation with the union after the strike had ended, and finally in 2016 asked their supplier to meet with the union to reach a settlement.
On both occasions where Panarub was asked by adidas to engage with the union they refused to negotiate in good faith. On the latter occasion, Panarub refused to bring a serious offer for compensation to the table, thereby aborting the negotiation before it could even properly start. In both cases it is clear that adidas did not use sufficient leverage to make their key supplier understand the absolute need to pay the workers full severance.
Stopping orders at the subcontracted facility, while continuing to do business with the same business group, cannot be considered an acceptable strategy. The business group did not face any consequences of non-compliance with human rights, and through this avenue adidas condones, and therefore can be considered to contribute to the continuation of the rights violations.
Mizuno has concluded that the dismissal of the 1,300 workers was not in violation with Indonesian law, and therefore it states it cannot put pressure on PT Panarub Dwikarya to pay full severance payment. The ILO committee’s recommendations however show that, in this case, the Indonesian law system fell below what is expected under international standards and that workers are indeed entitled to full severance payments.
Meanwhile, the 345 workers are still not made whole for the unjust dismissals, and the financial hardship they have been facing for the last five years since. We therefore call upon both adidas and Mizuno to answer to this call in finding a solution for the workers concerned and to contribute to the remedy needed».
From Stars for Workers we totally support this action of CCC in order to demand a solution.
Another tragedy has hit the garment industry at Bangladesh. As Industriall-Union reports:
«A boiler explosion at a Bangladeshi garment factory on 3 July 2017 has killed 11 workers and injured at least 50 people. The death toll could rise as many of those caught in the blast are in a critical condition in hospital. The incident took place at the Multifabs Limited garment factory in Gazipur on the outskirts of Dhaka at about 7.30pm. At the time of the explosion, workers at the dyeing section were reportedly engaged in maintenance work on the boiler. The impact was so severe that a section of the four-storey factory building was also damaged».
Multifabs Limited is a supplier of several European brands such as index, ALDI North, ALDI South, Dansk Supermarked A/S, Shop Direct, Wuensche Group, Teddy Spa, and Gekås Ullared AB. and is covered under the Bangladesh Accord on fire and building safety and has been inspected by Accord engineers.«However, the Accord does not cover boiler inspections, which are monitored by the Bangladesh government».
Karen McVeigh bring again (unfortunately) a known story about faints in Cambodian factories.
«Over the past year more than 500 workers in four factories supplying to Nike, Puma, Asics and VF Corporation were hospitalised. The most serious episode, recorded over three days in November, saw 360 workers collapse. The brands confirmed the incidents, part of a pattern of faintings that has dogged the 600,000-strong mostly female garment workforce for years. The Observer and Danwatch, a Danish investigative media group, interviewed workers, unions, doctors, charities and government officials in the country’s garment industry, worth $5.7bn in 2015″.
«The women who collapsed worked 10 hour days, six days a week and reported feeling exhausted and hungry. Excessive heat was also an issue in three factories, with temperatures of 37C. Unlike in neighbouring Vietnam, where factory temperatures must not exceed 32C, Cambodia sets no limit, though if temperatures reach a “very high level” causing difficulties for workers, employers must install fans or air conditioning».
The short contracts and the pressure to reach the objectives and to work overtime contribute to worsen the problem.
«The minimum monthly wage in Cambodia is £120 and two hours’ overtime a day boosts it to between £150 and £190, depending on the factory. Wages vary, but none of the four factories pays the “living wage”, which in Cambodia is £300 a month, according to the workers’ rights alliance Asia Floor Wage».
Employees in a factory placed in Indonesia report verbal abuse and receive wages that are not able to cover basic needs.
«The Guardian has spoken to more more than a dozen workers at the fashion label’s factory in Subang, Indonesia, where employees describe being paid one of the lowest minimum wages in Asia and there are claims of impossibly high production targets and sporadically compensated overtime. The workers’ complaints come only a week after labour activists investigating possible abuses at a Chinese factory that makes Ivanka Trump shoes disappeared into police custody. The activists’ group claimed they had uncovered a host of violations at the plant including salaries below China’s legal minimum wage, managers verbally abusing workers and “violations of women’s rights”. In the Indonesian factory some of the complaints are similar, although the wages paid to employees in Subang are much lower».
The Guardian has investigated the factory and depicts what some workers are said
«Alia makes the legal minimum wage for her job in her province: 2.3 million rupiah, or about $173 a month – but that legal minimum is among the lowest in Indonesia as a whole, and as much as 40% lower than in Chinese factories, another labour source for the Ivanka Trump brand. When Alia was told the gist of Ivanka Trump’s new book on women in the workplace, she burst out laughing. Her idea of work-life balance, she said, would be if she could see her children more than once a month. Sita, 23, is one such worker. She had to drop out of college when her parents got sick, and started working at Buma last year. She told the Guardian that her contract will be terminated soon, after seven months of work. «That’s one of the company’s ways to cope with extra expenses,” she said. As a contract worker, she will not get any severance. “I can’t stand it any more. I work unpaid overtime every day and still earn just 2.3 million [rupiah] a month. I’m planning to move from Subang, where the minimum wage is too low. But I don’t know where to go yet. I haven’t got any connections.”
David Welsh, Indonesia and Malaysia director at the Solidarity Center, said: “You have to assess minimum wages in the context of the country itself and, in that context, it’s not a living wage. Given the disparity in wages across Indonesia, we see a trend whereby factories are migrating increasingly to the lowest wage jurisdictions … whose terms are essentially dictated deliberately by western brands.”
«The fortunes of Ivanka’s brand have fluctuated wildly in the past year. During her father’s campaign, net sales for her brand increased by almost $18m in the year ending 31 January 2017, according to G-III data. But in recent months, several department stores have pulled her brand and G-III discreetly relabelled some Ivanka Trump merchandise under a different house brand, Adrienne Vitadini».
Clean Clothes Campaing is demanding European Parliament to deeply investigate labour right abuses in Bangladesh in the last months, in order to verify that the Goverment of Bangladesh is not violating the commitements related with its preferential trading terms with the European Union.
«In December 2016, spontaneous wage strikes were met with mass dismissals, raids on trade union offices and the arrest of over 30 labour leaders. While an agreement in February 2017 brought about the end of detentions, labour leaders continue to face charges and thereby a possible prison sentence and workers have still not been reinstated following their unjustified dismissals six months ago. Moreover, recent examples of violence and even death threats against labour activists in Chittagong demonstrate that the climate for labour advocates’ work remains extremely dangerous. Clean Clothes Campaign is highly concerned in particular about recent physical attacks, threats and criminal charges against leaders and members of the Bangladesh Industrial and Garment Union Federation (BIGUF)
The European Union response to these events has been to slightly increase the strength of its language in communication with the government of Bangladesh, but this has fallen short of any meaningful action. In a letter in March 2017, the European Union urged the government to improve the labour situation before the annual review of the Sustainability Compact between Bangladesh, the European Union and the International Labour Organization (ILO). The Compact binds Bangladesh to significant commitments in the field of labour reform. However, when the review took place on 18 May 2017, Bangladesh’ clear lack of progress remained without repercussions, and the government was allowed to stick to the same unfulfilled commitments it had made four years ago.
Despite this failure to comply with clear commitments, the European Union’s patience seems inexhaustible, and Bangladesh was given yet another deadline – August 2017 – by which to honour its commitments. Bangladesh is also expected to formulate a clear plan for labour law reform, which is to be implemented by June 2018. The EU’s letter suggests that continued non-compliance might harm the trade benefits that Bangladesh currently enjoys under the ‘Everything but Arms’ category.
Clean Clothes Campaign believes that the time for extending deadlines has long since passed. The international community, including the ILO supervisory bodies, has repeatedly stated that the Government of Bangladesh is not willing to guarantee minimum international labour standards. Given the ongoing failure of the government to propose or implement reforms and the increasingly serious violations of freedom of association – including physical violence and death threats – a stronger and more immediate response is needed».
The struggle against Nike policy of not respecting labour rights is ongoing in several univerisities in the US. Now, the University of California Santa Barbara announces that will break up with the brand because of this poblem.
«In 2006, the UC agreed to implement the Designated Suppliers Program. The DSP was created by the Worker Rights Consortium and United Students Against Sweatshops to help protect the rights of the workers who make university apparel. Universities that have agreed to the terms of the DSP, such as all the UC campuses, must obtain most of their university logo apparel from supplier factories that respect the rights of their employees in the ways that the DSP stipulates. To be in accordance with DSP standards, a factory’s employees must be paid a living wage and be able to organize and bargain collectively. Additionally, the factory itself must comply with internationally recognized labor standards. To ensure that supplier factories are in accordance with these standards, the WRC investigates the factories that produce university apparel. Because UCSB cannot confirm that Nike factories are in accordance with the DSP, the university will look for another company — possibly Under Armour, which has already signed with UC Berkeley».
The reports from Workers Right Consortium have been important for making that decision.
«Various WRCreportsfrom 2007 to 2008 connect Nike to sweatshops in Thailand, the Dominican Republic, and Honduras. Despite these reports, workers’ rights violations seem to have continued. In 2011, workers at a Nike Converse factory in Indonesia claimed that they were verbally and physically abused by factory supervisors. Many universities throughout the United States, including UCSB, rely on the WRC to report on the conditions of the factories used to produce university apparel. However, Nike has recentlyblockedthe WRC from entering its supplier factories, according to reports».
Stars for Workers in a roundtable about ethical fashion and human rights 26/05/2017
On May 25th, we were invited to participate in a roundtable about human rights in the textile sector, where several ethical initiatives were presented and discussed. The event was placed in Cartagena (Spain) and was organized by the team of Lola Sánchez, the MEP of the political party PODEMOS, and the leader of the EU flagship initiative on the garment sector.
As Casey Jaywork informs, the University of Washington will cut its contract with Nike «unless the apparel giant allows independent labor investigators unprecedented access to the factories in which its clothes are produced».
In an internallettersent last Friday, UW President Ana Mari Cauce said that she is “prepared to let the contract lapse” with Nike to produce UW-themed apparel unless Nike requires its supplier factories to give on-demand access to the Worker’s Rights Consortium (WRC), an investigatory and advocacy group. “It must also be the responsibility and obligation of Nike and their contractors to cooperate fully with such investigations,” said Cauce, “including free and full access to all facilities, materials and records that may be relevant to such an investigation.”
“President Cauce’s commitment to require WRC monitoring to renew the contract is the only way to effectively move Nike,” he says. “Companies don’t voluntarily make changes that affect their profits or their business models out of the goodwill of their hearts. They make changes because of external forces.
“Nike is never going to allow the WRC to access its factories unless universities, as major licensing business partners, actually compel them to change their behavior by cutting these contracts.”
The UW’s current contract for Nike to produce UW-licensed apparel, which is not exclusive, has been in place since at least 2001 and possibly a little earlier, according to UW spokesperson Victor Balta. In 2016, the relationship produced for Nike close to $5 million and for the UW about $284,000 in royalties. The UW has licensing agreements with hundreds of companies, and over the past five years Nike generated 17 percent of the university’s overall royalty revenue, says Balta.
This is another move from some universities to try to demand Nike be consistent with the core values needed to be a partner of such institutions.
Myanmar garment workers documentary: “The workplace is like a jail” 06/05/2017
This new documentary filmed by the Burmese Women’s Union about Myanmar garment workers shows the reality of the lives of thousands of women being employed in the factories. Women being paid &2.60 per day, working more than 60 hours a week: «The salary I get isn’t neough but we have no choice and I have to manage it anyway»
«According to the law there is a minimum wage but in reality is a maximum wage»
Interviewed women in this documentary reported to work for brands such as H&M or C&A, among others.
Workers in the supply chain of Levi Strauss in Madagascar suffer exploitation 04/05/2017
American fashion brand Levi Strauss makes the clothes in Madagascar (Africa). Although the brand stresses its concenr about caring labor conditions, the supply chain is very complex, and some workers are still clearly exploited, as Van Badhan stated in her article:
«Levi Strauss may have been the first multinational apparel company to establish workplace codes of conduct for their direct suppliers, but the modern, globalised supply chain is far longer than the direct suppliers covered by Levi’s existing policies. The protestors claim Levi’s products are shipped out from their seven factories in Madagascar though a port at Toamasina where the dockworkers who handle the products are subject to appalling exploitation by their employer. The International Transport Workers’ Federation has beenpublicly profiling dockworkerswho have toiled for decades without employment contracts, in dangerous conditions with long hours. They’re paid as little as $40 a month and 43 of them who have tried to join a union have recently been sacked, in breach of international and local labour law.The immediate call from the activists is that Levi’s extend their supply chain code of conduct to transport workers, as well as join the coalition of those demanding the Madagascan government take action and enforce the law. But the standoff in Toamasina has, of course, a broader relevance among international discussions about governance, fairness, labour and the supply chain – which is why the protests against Levi’s have been international».
Therefore, workers earning $40 a month in the supply chain of a brand that obtained more than $291 million of net income in 2016 (www.statista.com)
Stars for Workers invited to the European Parliament to defend workers rights 28/04/2017
Some of the members of our team, Jose A. Martínez and Manuel Ruiz, participated on April 26 at an event in the European Parliament prior to the vote on a report on violation of Human Rights in the textile sector. Our project, «Stars for Workers», was one of those selected to show the initiatives that are being undertaken in the sector to make it more sustainable, humane and fair.
The session was attended by Arne Lietz (European Parliament’s Development Committee), Linda McAvan (President of the European Parliament’s Development Committee), Nevem Mimica (European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development), Lola Sánchez Caldentey (Member of the Development Committee), Guy Stuart (Harvard University, Garment Workers Diaries), Sarah Ditty (Fashion Revolution Coordinator), Helmut Fisher (Ministry of Development and Cooperation), Amit Narje , Amirul Haque Amin (President of the National Textile Workers’ Federation of Dhaka, Bangladesh) and Shahdat Hossain (Ambassador of Bangladesh to Belgium).
The Spanish MEP, Lola Sánchez, who has led the «EU flagship initiative on the garment sector», once again strongly outlined the need to establish a regulatory framework in the European Union with a view to increasing the transparency in the supply chain, change product labeling to inform the consumer of who produces the clothing and under what working conditions, reward tariffs with sustainable production, and prevent human rights being violated, with special emphasis on the case women.
The clothing sector employs more than 60 million people worldwide, but despite many initiatives that have been taken in recent years to improve working conditions, none of them is part of a common regulatory framework, and are based mainly on voluntary codes of conduct and Corporate Social Responsibility actions, which have proved incapable of protecting workers’ basic rights: access to a living wage, elimination of forced and child labor, elimination of physical and verbal discrimination, elimination of discrimination against women, guarantees of a healthy work environment, and freedom of association.
Of particular importance was also the intervention of Amirul Haque Amin, President of the National Federation of Textile Workers of Dhaka, who pointed out that voluntary actions and the principles of Corporate Social Responsibility were not enough for hundreds of thousands of workers in Bangladesh to be able to live worthily. His emotional speech culminated in the hope that this time, a binding agreement will actually contribute to the respect of the Human Rights of employees in the factories of his country.
The session was a time of tension when the Bangladeshi ambassador had to answer questions about the imprisonment of trade unionists who have been staging protests in the country since December 2016, leading thousands of workers demanding a living wage and better working conditions.
Professors Martínez and Ruiz had the opportunity to explain in the final act of the session the objectives of our project, which aims to increase people awareness of labor exploitation in the textile industry through the involvement of celebrities who sign contracts of sponsorship with the big brands of the sector.
Finally, one day later, on 27 April, the European Parliament adopted the report with a strong majority, with 505 votes in favor, 57 abstentions and 49 votes against.
Now the next step is for the European Commission to draw up a draft law (Regulation or Directive) which will have to be discussed again by the social partners and endorsed by Parliament and the Council of the European Union.
False promises in Myanmar; Exploitation goes on 22/04/2017
Garret Brown, one of the major voices in the fight for the workers rights in the garment industry, remember us the situation of Myanmar workers in the last months.
«In February 2017, garment workers enraged by abusive and illegal working conditions stormed their factory and smashed $75,000 worth of equipment after attacking factory managers. The worker revolt in the one of the poorest and most vulnerable countries in the world also revealed the broken promises of international clothing brands that sweatshop apparel production would lead to better lives and “empowerment” of the overwhelmingly female garment workforce in Myanmar. The Hangzhou Hundred-Tex Garment factory is Chinese-owned and exclusively produces for Swedish apparel giant Hennes & Mauritz (H&M), which considers itself a leader of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in the garment industry. H&M, along with U.S.-based Gap Inc., were founders of the “Myanmar Responsible Sourcing Working Group,” coordinated by the San Francisco-based Business for Social Responsibility».
Therefore, H&M is again in the spotlight, even when the Swedish brand try to change its image to a more responsible brand.
«Because of extremely low wages and abusive management practices, Myanmar’s garment industry has witnessed hundreds of strikes, demonstrations and protests since the end of decades-long military rule in 2011. Management consulting firm Verisk Maplecroft found that Myanmar had the world’s second lowest labor costs in 2015 – higher only than Djibouti in Africa – which were just too low to be passed up by international apparel brands and retailers.»
«In June 2014, Gap Inc. became the first US-based apparel company to source from Myanmar with the blessing of the U.S. Embassy and government agencies. The Gap partnered with US AID and CARE International to sponsor an “award-winning women’s advancement program” to offer women garment workers (poor women coming from rural areas) interactive training to respond to economic opportunity through increased IT and business skills…to help them become more successful both personally and professionally».
Brown provides several reports that show a more realistic situation of garment workers than could be expected by the brands promises:
«These reports document how working conditions have not improved for the nearly 400,000 garment workers (90% women) in 350 factories in Myanmar, half of which are foreign-owned (primarily Chinese, Korean Taiwanese and Japanese) and produce for well-known international brands. Workers typically work 60 or more hours a week, six days a week, earning 35-40 cents an hour, for a monthly wage between $83 to $98 (depending on the amount of overtime). The reports indicate that 43% of garment workers are in perpetual debt because their wages do not cover even basic living expenses. For example, the rent for a 9 to 10 square foot room runs between $36 and $59 a month for workers».
«The reports above reveal that a majority of garment workers do not have labor contracts and are considered “day laborers.” They do not qualify for the $3.25 daily wage until after their 6-month probation, and they are not eligible for bonuses, benefits or social security coverage. Their piece-work rate wages often fall below the daily minimum. Even for garment workers with contracts, many factory owners consider the daily minimum wage to be the “daily maximum,” a ceiling rather than a floor for wages».
In the race to the bottom of the garment industry, American Apparel has been the last to follow the trend.
«For the first time in American Apparel’s 28-year history, its items are being made outside the US. The company, which prided itself on being the largest domestic apparel maker, is now producing shirts in Honduras and Nicaragua, a person familiar with the matter said. Gildan Activewear, which bought American Apparel out of Chapter 11 earlier this year, later confirmed the Central American production — and said that labels denoting “Made in Honduras” and “Made in Nicaragua” will start appearing on its clothes this summer. The shirts being made in those countries are for its wholesale division, which sells shirts to corporate customers, including those who print concert-related shirts.»
How well the workers of Honduras and Nicaragua will be paid? We will follow it in the next months.
Another story from «Garment workers diaries» shows us the sad situation of garment workers in Cambodia, through the experiences of Sokhaeng, a 27 year-old woman who works in the city of Phonm Penh:
«The data collected from July to November 2016 show that Sokhaeng worked, on average, 51 hours per week. She earned about 3,300 riels per hour and her employer gave her a 4,000-riels meal allowance on the days she worked. While these averages suggest that Sokhaeng typically worked a legal number of hours and received the legal minimum wage, they mask the volatility that Sokhaeng experienced in her schedule and pay. For instance, she worked at least 60 hours in six weeks during July and August. By September, the number of hours she worked fell, staying comparatively low through October before briefly spiking in late November. There were periods when she worked substantially less or not at all«.
Therefore, she earned about $0.8 per hour, what is an average of $41 per week and around $170 per month. This is a little above of the minimum wage, but far away from a living wage.
«For Sokhaeng, making ends meet was a continual struggle because of her low income, its volatility, and the demands on her and her husband’s resources from a number of different directions. In addition to paying rent and buying food and household items for her and Pisen, Sokhaeng regularly had to send money back home to support the couple’s child and aging and ailing parents. She also chose to attend beauty school with the hope of starting her own business one day, a decision that demands an investment of several million riels. To make ends meet from week to week, she needed to borrow large sums from her brother, buy and sell lotion as a side business, and, at times, cut back on major expenses like rent and food».
«Sokhaeng and Pisen used all their money management skills to scrape by in the face of multiple challenges—poor work conditions, low wages, the erosion of the value of those wages through inflation and unfair practices by landlords, and demands from other family members who were themselves scraping by. Addressing those challenges requires the commitment of a number of different stakeholders, in particular the multi-national brands buying what Sokhaeng makes, the factories who employ her, and the government. Sokhaeng ‘s story should be a powerful reminder to them and others of what is at stake«.
Great news which indirectly reinforce our project! NFL Athlete Michael Bennett announced he would donate all of his 2017 endorsement money and half the proceeds he receives from jersey sales to inner-city programs, as USA Today published.
“The system is failing our kids, and it will be up to the community and our leaders to help keep the hope alive by focusing on improving our education system and the future of our kids,” Bennett said in a statement. “Any company that decides to invest in me, just know that you’ll be investing in opportunities and providing inspiration for these families – many who feel unnoticed or go unmentioned”.
Bennett said Chance The Rapper, who donated $1 million to Chicago public schools this week, “inspired” him to make the pledge. Bennett’s endorsement money will be funneled to Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) programs in minority communities and 50% of the money he gets from the sale of his No. 72 Seahawks jerseys would go to inner-city garden projects.
“It’s not only about providing opportunities in education and arts, but to help provide the right nutrition and access to healthy living to all,” Bennett said. We encourage celebrities to show their positioning regarding social issues, although their statements be opposite to the practices of the brands they endorse. Now, we need a step forward, and we desire more celebrities yell about the labor conditions of workers who make their clothes.
This is what we are calling from Stars for Workers, in this case for helping the exploted workers of the garment industry.
Three of the most outstanding endorsers of Under Armour have showed their public opposition to the brand CEO’s – Kevin Plank – pro Trump statement: «a real asset» to American businesses.
Misty Copeland, star of the brand’s iconic “I Will What I Want” ad, uploaded a lengthy post to Instagram today. While she praises the brand for supporting her over the years, Copeland did not mince words about Trump.
“I strongly disagree with Kevin Plank’s recent comments in support of Trump as recently reported,” she wrote in the Instagram post. “Those of you who have supported and followed my career know that the one topic I’ve never backed away from speaking openly about is the importance of diversity and inclusion. It is imperative to me that my partners and sponsors share this belief.”
She said she has spoken with Plank privately about his opinions in great detail but that, “as someone who takes my responsibility as a role model very seriously, it is important to me that he, and UA, take public action to clearly communicate and reflect our common values in order for us to effectively continue to work towards our shared goal of trying to motivate ALL people to be their best selves.”
Another major endorser for the brand, Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry, also spoke out against Plank, although less directly than Copeland. When asked by The Mercury News about Plank’s description of Trump as “a real asset,” Curry responded by saying, “I agree with that description, if you remove the ‘et’ from asset.”
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson also posted his response to Plank on Instagram. “These are neither my words, nor my beliefs,” Johnson writes. “His words were divisive and lacking in perspective. Inadvertently creating a situation where the personal political opinions of UA’s partners and its employees were overshadowed by the comments of its CEO.”
We encourage celebrities to show their positioning regarding social issues, although their statements be opposite to the practices of the brands they endorse. Now, we need a step forward, and we desire more celebrities yell about the labor conditions of workers who make their clothes.
Bad news; Penn State University continues dealing with Nike in spite of the stuggle of students who demanded to reconsider the agreement up to Nike addresses the labour exploitation situation in Hansae (Vietnam). United Students Against Sweatshops has published this letter that deserves to be fully showed. Remember that the Nike deal is about $2 million a year. Next, the letter:
With regard to the aforementioned, we as students of this university and as advocates in the dignified treatment of all individuals are dismayed at the University’s decision. Following our meeting on Jan. 20th, we were beyond overjoyed at the prospect of the University taking such a strong stance on behalf of worker’s rights.
In that moment, we were proud Penn Staters. Yet, in writing this we are a little less so. Having read the WRC report, we find it confusing how the administration could continue on with a company that so flagrantly denies the human dignity of its employees.
The conditions at the Hansae factory, detailed in 113 pages in the report, are shameful. We would further press to ask why NIKE would for so long refuse entry to the WRC and further why Nike has not promised future entry.
In considering a contract with this company, we ask the administration to consider the implications of that. In representing Penn State, we further ask you as the administration to consider the workers who suffer to make our apparel.
Consider what we want to allow Penn State to be associated with. Consider the values that bring us together as a university. As proud Penn Staters, this logo means something to us. It represents our communal values, our collegiate pride, and all aspects of what it means to hold a Penn State degree. We don’t want our logo to represent pain for those who produce it. We don’t want our beliefs, experience, and values marred by NIKE.
In so many regards, this university has chosen to stand up for its values in the face of adversity, and we would hope that this administration would continue to do so. We understand the scope you as administrators face in making these decisions, and we respect your ideas and experience. However as students, we cannot stand by as we watch our fellow man’s rights violated.
We were proud when Penn State affiliated itself to the WRC and made a promise to promote corporate responsibility and workers’ rights. We ask that the administration do not treat this affiliation as simply symbolic, but rather stand by your promise.
Dignity shouldn’t be dictated by national origin. Opportunity shouldn’t be limited simply by birthplace. We are proud to attend a university we believe shares these ideas, and celebrates diversity, but we believe our apparel should be representative of that.
The focus is again on Myanmar, where a new report shows children from 14 to 18 years working for $0.16 per hour, the half of the minimum wage, and almost four times slower than a living wage, as Gethin Chamberlain writes:
New Look, Sports Direct’s Lonsdale brand and H&M have all used factories found to have employed children, after several major brands switched their production to low-cost factories in Myanmar. Workers told investigators that they were paid as little as 13p an hour producing clothes for UK retailers – half the full legal minimum wage. The Netherlands-based Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (known by its Dutch initials as Somo) interviewed 400 workers in 12 factories supplying international brands and worked with the Observer to finalise the report.
“We thought that brands were getting the message on child labour but this investigation shows the risks involved in constantly trying to cut labour costs,” said researcher Pauline Overeem. “The widespread use of children in Myanmar to manufacture clothes for western brands is alarming and depressing and we urge all companies to take responsibility and to ensure that children are getting the education they need and deserve.” Brands have had some success eliminating child labour from their main supplier factories in recent years, but as wages have risen in countries such as China, companies are increasingly moving production to cheaper markets, including Myanmar, where children can legally be employed for up to four hours a day from the age of 14.
Several brands where related to this practices, such as H&M, Lonsdale, New Look, Muji, Sports Direct, Pierre Cardin or Henri Lloyd.
All the factories investigated employed workers below the age of 18. Several workers at factories supplying Lonsdale and New Look stated in detailed interviews that they had started work at the age of 14. There were also reports of several workers below the age of 15 at a factory supplying H&M and Muji. H&M confirmed that it had found two 14-year-olds but that an inspection in November found no one under 14. Researchers found wages below the full legal minimum at factories supplying Sports Direct, Henri Lloyd, New Look, H&M, Muji, Pierre Cardin and Karrimor (owned by Sports Direct). The lowest wages of just 13p an hour were found in factories supplying H&M, Karrimor, Muji and Pierre Cardin. The day rate for those workers was £1.06. Myanmar’s labour laws permit factories to pay newer workers at reduced rates
Mujeres Transformando (MT) joins Stars for Workers 02/02/2017
We are pleased to announce that «Asociación Mujeres Transformando» (MT), a Non-Lucrative Salvadoran Association defending women workers rights joined Stars for Workers campaign.
Asociación Mujeres Transformando (MT) was founded on July 3, 2003, and is a feminist organization that ensures the rights of women, especially the rights of women working in textile factories (“maquilas”). The Association contributes to the deconstruction of patriarchy and power relations that violate the body and life of Salvadoran women through class awareness and gender perspective. Mujeres Transformando seek to empower women to exercise the free and full right of their citizenship.
Some of the streams of work the organization achieves are:
• Projects to strengthen the leadership of women within the trade union exercise
• Research on the working conditions of women in the maquila
• Proposals to reform the Free Zones Law
• Public complaints about the labor violations of women workers in the maquilas at national and international level
• Elaboration and publication of the Human Rights and Occupational Health Manual
• Proposals for the reform of the Labor Code, specifically in the special regime of the home work modality in El Salvador
• Elaboration of social campaigns
• Documentaries in which the conditions of women workers in the textile and clothing sector are made visible
Here are two samples of the work made by the Association, supporting the empowerment of women and defending their rights:
We will disseminate all the work of this organization through our social media and we will encourage celebrities to be a star for them.
Students of the Penn State University against Nike labour practices 25/01/2017
A new university in the United States has started to fight against Nike labour standars, and the oppacity of its management of providers in Vietnam. Students of the Penn State Univeristy are asking for not renewing the school contract with the brand.
Penn State University’s chapter of United Students Against Sweatshops has asked the university not to renew the school’s non-athletic licensing contract with Nike. The group asked Penn State University president Eric Barron not to renew the contract because of unethical working conditions at the company’s factory in Hansae, Vietnam. Penn State’s licensing contract with Nike expires at the end of January. The group said the Nike factory in Hansae has stopped allowing the Worker Rights Consortium to inspect the site, and interviews with workers there have revealed poor conditions. Now, the group is uncertain about what Penn State will do and is looking for clarification.
Myanmar workers of the Panda Textiles factory complaints on their labour situation. In 2015, two garment workers died and four labor leaders were fired during a protest in which 600 laborers camped in front of the factory.
A resumed strike and renewed protests—which first started in 2013—were sparked by stalled negotiations between workers and owners at Panda Textiles. Hundreds of textile workers traveled into the city center to join Sunday’s protest, filling the streets with their motorbikes and listening to speeches at Manawyaman grounds. The textile workers were joined in solidarity by workers from factories in the Mandalay industrial zone. The two sides came close to signing a new labor contract in early January, but the factory ownership said it needed to take another look at planned incremental raises in workers’ salaries, overtime earnings, and annual leave. Factory owners also refused to re-hire four labor leaders fired for organizing protests and further negotiations were canceled at the last minute.
UK workers of making products for fashion retailers such as River Island, New Look, Boohoo and Missguided are severely underpaid, as a recent research has pointed out. They are earning between £3 and £3.50 an hour, being the legal miminum £7.20 an hour:
In the new Dispatches film, an undercover reporter gets a job at Fashion Square Ltd, which labelled clothes for River Island. When the reporter told the firm he would usually receive at least £7.20 an hour for work, his boss replied: “You won’t get that here. That’s what I’m telling you. We don’t get paid much for our clothes, and we need to compete with China and Bangladesh. They can get it cheap there. How will they get it made cheaper here? If we pay everyone £10 or £6 then we will make a loss.” The reporter was paid around £3 an hour for work that included labelling River Island garments, Dispatches reports. The undercover reporter also gained employment in a factory working on garments forNew Look, where he was apparently paid £3.50 an hour. A third textile firm, United Creations, paid him £3.25 an hour for work which included packing a jacket for Boohoo and marking up zips on dresses for Missguided, the programme says.
Sabrina Toppa depicts the situation of migrant workers in Jordan, where the garment industry is growing but the labour conditions are still poor. Banglaseh, Sri Lanka and Nepal are the main providers of labour force.
Yet while the kingdom offers comparatively favorable labor laws for the region, many of these migrant workers are still legally and economically vulnerable (…). Garments manufactured in Jordan benefit fromtariff-free entryto the U.S. market, a competitive trade advantage that makes Jordan an attractive destination for apparel manufacturing. However, despite Jordan’s high unemployment rate (officially reaching15.8 percentin 2016, with estimates of up to28 percentamong youth) and a mandate to draw 30 percent of its workforce from the national population, the garment industry has struggled to attract Jordanian workers. From 2011 to 2013, for example, Jordan’s apparel industry sought more than 19,000 workers to meet production demands, yet only received slightly more than 4,000 applications, according to astudyfrom the National Center for Human Resources Development. Given this gap, Jordan has relied on foreign labor to sustain its garment sector.
Jordan offers a better deal to migrant laborers than other international destinations. Part of the reason that the kingdom has been successful in luring garment manufacturers is its better labor standards (…). However, given the essentially precarious structure of migrant labor, protections on paper do not always translate into practical guarantees for many workers. Employer wage theft, forcible deportation, and unpaid overtime continue topersistas wider labor violations in factories, marring the kingdom’s reputation. Moreover, nearly half of all migrant workers complained of verbal abuse in the workplace, according to a 2013 Better Work Jordanreport. In 2011, rapeaccusationsroiled the Classic Fashion apparel factory in Jordan, leading U.S. retailers to cancel orders from the factory and potentially jeopardizing the country’s preferential trade status with the United States. Although factories submit to assessments byBetter Work Jordan,a labor initiative under the partnership of the International Finance Corporation and International Labor Organization (ILO), labor abuses may continue unless retailers threaten to pull work orders. Migrants are particularly vulnerable when it comes to their legal work status. For example, although Jordan’s migrant workers are not formally bound to a sponsor as they are under the controversial sponsorship (kafala) system in Gulf countries, Jordanian migrants remain legally vulnerable if they modify or terminate their employment prior to a contract end date, since residency and work permits hinge on employment status. This gives employers excessive powers over the worker, including the ability to declare a worker “illegal” to a police station, which may subsequently nominate the worker for deportation.
We recommend reading the complete article to know more about garment workers in Jordan.
Syrian refugees continue to being exploited in Turkey factories which are suppliers of brands such as H&M, KappAhl, Lindex, Gina Tricot and Varner, as Clean Clothes reported:
Turkey is the world’s third-largest supplier of clothing after China and Bangladesh, and the third-largest non-EU exporter of garments to Sweden and Norway. Although Syrians can now be employed legally in Turkey, only around 7,000 of the estimated 250,000 to 400,000 Syrians who work in the country have obtained work permits. The clear majority of Syrians continues to be undocumented, which means they lack access to employment contracts and social security. They are also unlikely to complain about low wages and excessive working hours to their employers or the authorities, as they are easily laid off and risk losing their only source of income. Syrian workers are generally earning under minimum wage, and do not get social security. They have to accept any working conditions offered to them and can get dismissed at any time.
More than 80 garment factories have freezen their production because of a strike of workers protesting the firing of 121 colleagues and demanding a living wage. Some of these factories are suppliers of brands such as GAM, Zara and H&M.
Several hundred policemen have since been deployed in the industrial zone. The workers want their salaries to be tripled from 5,300 taka ($67) – the current monthly minimum wage – to 16,000 taka. The government raised the minimum wage for garment workers to 5,300 taka in 2013 after the industry came under intense international scrutiny over a series of disasters that killed scores. But even after the increase, Bangladeshi garment workers remain among the lowest paid in the textile sector in the world. Industry official Rahman said there was “barely a chance” of a further salary hike, citing a law that only allows salaries to be reviewed once every five years. Bangladesh’s $30bn garment industry has a woeful history of poor pay and conditions for its four million workers. The garment workers have vowed to continue the strike until their demands are met. Garment manufacturing makes up 80% of Bangladesh’s exports and a prolonged interruption would have a cascading impact on the impoverished country’s economy. Hundreds of paramilitary troops have been deployed in a key apparel industrial zone on the outskirts of Bangladeshi capital Dhaka as thousands of garment workers continued demonstrations demanding a hike in minimum monthly wage.
Tansy Hoskins perfectly depicts the situation of the workers of Spectrum for Arcadia warehouse in Solihull (UK), which is a distribution centre run by DHL for the retail group of corporations managed by Philip Green:
“We’re not humans anymore, we’re numbers,” says Karen, standing in a small crowd as she looks over at a low grey building in the middle of an industrial estate. “They wanted to take things off us – they’ve been chipping away all these years.” “It’s hard to reach your targets,” Karen continues. “You have to work really fast, and they’re always putting more things on you. They’re moving the goal posts all the time.”
They earn olny the minimum wage of £7.20 an hour, but they are struggling for obtaining a living wage:
The workers are to trying to get Arcadia to pay them more than the minimum wage of £7.20 an hour. In March 2016, the Solihull workers asked for a 30p pay rise. When this was denied, they decided to ask for the living wage of £8.45 an hour. With Argos delivery drivers now also planning to strike for three days next week, and investigations into Sports Direct and Amazon shining a light on warehouse conditions for their operations, Arcadia joins a list of retailers with questions to answer about its British supply chains. “I don’t think people realise where their clothes come from” says Karen. “With Amazon and Sports Direct being in the news, it might open their eyes a little bit. But people press a button and think ‘great, I’ll get that in a couple of days’.”
The targets to meet are unrealistic for keeping a healthy job, and the pressure is excessive considering the salary and the asymmetry of profits obtained in the end of the supply chain:
Double the work In the old days, there used to be waiting lists for overtime because everyone wanted to come in to work. The women believe it was when Spectrum took over the warehouse around the year 2000 that things went bad. “You are shattered by the end of the day” “Now we do double the amount of work and every year they increase the targets,” Lalima says. She and her friends work as ‘pickers’. When a branch of Miss Selfridge or Topshop orders more clothes, shoes, or accessories, it is up to these women to collect them off the warehouse shelves. They all have targets to meet – targets they say are reviewed on a weekly basis and which if missed can result in disciplinary meetings. ‘Vithika’ explains that on an average day they each collect 2,500 items from the shelves, but that this can increase to 3,000 and even 3,500 items per day. “You are shattered by the end of the day,” she explains. “It is all walking, walking, walking – it’s a really hard job.”
Meta Krese and Jošt Franko followed the path of cotton from Burkina Faso to Bangladesh to our mall, showing the harsh reality of this industry; the suffering of people working in the first steps of the supply chain:
Today, the pattern is well-known: Large corporations source their textiles from the cheapest factories possible. Factories in turn buy the cheapest cotton they can find.States compete with one another to prevent corporations from decamping to cheaper countries. “As a result,” the historian Sven Beckert explains “the protections that strong nation-states offered, to at least some of their workers, for at least part of the twentieth century, have been gradually eroded.”
Most of the countries that rely on cotton and garment export commodities exhibit low indicators of socioeconomic development. West Africa’s Burkina Faso, a major exporter of cotton, for example, ranks 183 out of 188 countries on the United Nations’ Human Development Index, which measures average life expectancy, education, and income. Bangladesh, one of the world’s top garment exporters, ranks 142nd. But even more developed countries, like Romania, compete in the race to the bottom; in 2011, the country abolished collective bargaining at the national level, weakening unions’ ability to negotiate for fair pay and working conditions. The rock bottom wages and lack of worker protections in these countries allow for the production of strikingly cheap clothes. These are the faces and the stories of the people who make the shirts, jeans, and countless other items you use every day.
Michael Safi, from The Guardian, remember us again the reality of child labour in the garment industry supply chain; A study of the Overseas Development Institute finds 15% of six- to 14-year-olds living in poorest households work an average of 64 hours a week in Bangladesh.
A survey of 2,700 slum households found that child labourers living in slums worked an average of 64 hours each week – many in supply chains connected to the world’s most popular brands. The survey, among the largest conducted in the south Asian country, found 15% of children aged between six and 14 did not go to school and worked full-time. Two-thirds of girls from slum areas who were working full-time were employed in Bangladesh’s $30bn (£24bn) clothes manufacturing industry, which is one of the world’s largest despite an extremely poor safety record. The manager of one unnamed garment factory told researchers that, while he was aware children aged 11 and 14 should not be working, he did not regard their employment as illegal. He also admitted that many of his employees did not carry identification cards that would verify their age.The study also found that more than 36% of boys and 34% of girls said they had experienced “extreme fatigue” on the job. It said that families were usually keen for their children to remain in school, but were unable to afford to live without the extra income, albeit meagre.
MLB star, Kris Bryant, has signed an extension of his contract with Adidas. As Michael Long publishes:
Last season’s National League MVP, who last month helped the Chicago Cubs to their first World Series crown in 108 years, will collaborate with the brand on ‘future baseball cleats and accessories’ whilst continuing to feature in marketing campaigns, according to a statement released on Thursday. «It’s a phenomenal time to be partnered with Adidas with all the energy and momentum that the brand has right now,» Bryant said in the release. «Adidas embraced me as part of the family from the start.”nTerms of the renewal have not been disclosed but ESPN’s Darren Rovell reports it is a ‘record breaking MLB shoe deal’ worth more than US$1 million a year for ‘in the neighbourhood of a decade’.»Kris Bryant is an incredible player,» said Mark King, Adidas Group’s North America president. «What I love about him is just how humble and appreciative he is to be playing the game of baseball»
Students at Georgetown against Nike’s abuse in Vietnam 11/12/2016
Jeanine Santucci bring us the story of several members of workers’ rights advocacy group Georgetown Solidarity Committee who are staging a sit-in in University President John J. DeGioia’s suite of offices to protest the university’s licensing contract with Nike. The brand has long relationship with the university of more than three decades.
About 50 Georgetown community members also rallied in Dahlgren Quadrangle shortly after the sit-in began at 10:00 a.m., before staging a sit-in in the foyer of DeGioia’s offices. Chief of Staff Joe Ferrara and Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson both engaged with the protesters. The action comes after Tuesday’s demand by GSC that the university cut its contract with Nike by the close of business hours Wednesday. According to GSC member Dan Zager (COL ’18), in a follow-up meeting between GSC and Ferrara yesterday, the university said it did not cut the contract. The members are willing to continue the sit-in until DeGioia takes action, according to GSC member Vincent DeLaurentis (SFS ’17).
Nike continues trading with providers in Vietnams who do not meet the basic standards for the workers:
The contract is set to expire Dec. 31. The licensing contract with Nike is one of two between the company and Georgetown regarding Nike’s use of Georgetown’s logo. Nike remains the only university-licensed vendor to not sign Georgetown’s Code of Conduct for University Licensees, which specifies standards of labor, wages, safety and health. Students in GSC and other student organizations, including at Cornell University and the University of Washington, have called attention to human rights abuses in Nike factories following the strike of thousands of employees at a Nike factory in Hansae, Vietnam, in November 2015.
GSC has called for the university to discontinue allowing Nike to remain a licensing partner without signing the code of conduct and is demanding that the contract not be renewed.Tuesday’s letter delivery and demands from GSC came the same day that WRC released a113-page report on the conditions of the Hansae factory, to which Nike provided access in October, according to the report. The report says Nike’s agreement to the inspections came after intervention by Georgetown and the University of Washington.
As Santucci concluides, the Georgetown University Student Association said in a statement posted on Facebook Wednesday night that it supports student efforts to hold Nike accountable.
“We support the students and student athletes in their efforts to advocate for Hoya apparel we can wear with pride, and we support President DeGioia in being a leader in the university community for ensuring our University business practices truly reflect our values,” the statement reads. “Moving forward, we hope the University actively engages our student body in these conversations, especially given the recently released WRC report.”
Julia Wick’s article remember us that the problem of labour abuse in the garment industry is not only a concern of countries as Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and others. This pervasive problem is a reality in countries suhc as, for example, Spain and the United States. Specifically in the latter the industry is exploiting workers in some zones of the country:
Los Angeles is widely known as a film capital, but few people realize it’s also the center of the country’s garment manufacturing industry. Los Angeles houses the largest cut and sew apparel base in the U.S., and according to a new report, conditions for many of our city’s garment workers are dangerous and unhealthy. The report, which was released by the UCLA Labor Center on Friday, found that conditions in America’s garment capital are «deeply unsafe and unhealthy for many of those who make what is stocked at popular clothing shops and department stores.» The Labor Center’s research with the Garment Worker Center (GWC) and UCLA Labor Occupational Safety and Health (UCLA LOSH) and the findings were based on interviews with several hundred garment workers.
Close to three-quarters of respondents surveyed told the Labor Center that their workplaces were brimming with dust, and 60% reported that excessive heat and dust accumulation due to poor ventilation rendered it difficult to work, and even to breathe. That dust exposure can lead to serious respiratory impairments and diseases like asthma, bronchitis, and other more acute and chronic conditions such as byssinosis (“brown lung disease”), according to the report. Additionally, more than 40% of those surveyed reported that that exits and doors in their shops were regularly blocked, which poses a critical safety concern, particularly if a fire were to break out. Nearly half of respondents observed that workplace bathrooms were soiled and unmaintained. Although the industry has declined since the mid-1990s, there are still approximately 45,000 garment workers in Los Angeles, a number that’s roughly equivalent to the entire UCLA student body, or the population of the city of Palm Springs. The majority of those 45,000 people make far less than minimum wage and work an average of 60 hours a week to provide for themselves and their families. Most of production «is concentrated in and around the Fashion District, a little bit south of downtown, but a lot are now moving to South L.A.,» Garment Worker Center Organizing Coordinator Mar Martinez told LAist .
Salaries are also below the miminum wage, and obviusly do not get the living wage:
Payment in L.A.’s garment industry is based around something called a price rate system, where workers are compensated for each piece of clothing they produce, as opposed to a set hourly wage. This pay-per-unit system triggers increased workplace injuries, because it pressures workers to complete jobs at unsafe speeds—all while typically sitting on a metal folded chair hunched over a flat, non-adjustable workstation, performing precise and repetitious tasks for 10 to 12 hours at a time. Those inherent workplace dangers are further compounded by the fact that a staggering 82.2% of respondents had not received any workplace training prior to, or during, the course of their job. According to the report, «many laughed incredulously» when they were asked if there were emergency plans in place in case of an accident. According to the Garment Worker’s Center, garment workers earn an average of $5.15 per hour, which is staggeringly sub-standard. As of July 1, Los Angeles has a city-mandated minimum wage of $10.50 per hour; even if a garment worker was logging 60 hour work weeks, they would still fall below the poverty line making $17,160 a year with a $5.15 hourly wage. For context, the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in a working-class area like Southeast Los Angeles is $1,414—or $16,968 a year.
Borussia Dortmund’s soccer player, Marc Bartra, has signed a new deal with Puma. As Sportspromedia informs
Johan Adamsson, global director of sports marketing at Puma, said: “Marc Bartra was an excellent signing for Borussia Dortmund in June, and he’ll be an equally important ambassador to Puma. He will help drive our retail business in both performance footwear along with BVB licensed product, and we look forward to working with him in the seasons ahead.”
Sergio Ramos has agreed a new endorsement extension with Nike 24/11/2016
Real Mardrid’s soccer star, Sergio Ramos, has signed an extension of his contract with Nike. As Sportspromedia informs:
The Real Madrid and Spain captain has signed a four-year deal with the US sports manufacturer, which Spanish outlets AS and Marca report to be worth €2milion (US$2.1 million) a year. Ramos will exclusively wear Nike boots and lend his image to the Oregon-based company’s numerous soccer campaigns. The agreement follows months of negations between the two parties since Ramos’ ten-year deal with Nike expired in June. As a result, the Spaniard had been forced to play for club and country in blacked out boots this season, because of a six-month non-compete clause. Ramos had been subject to rumours linking him with rival manufacturer Adidas
Thirteen persons face trial after violent intervention of police in Nicaragua 23/11/2016
Clean Clothes Campaign condems the act of the Nicaragua goverment who detained several unionists of theKorean-owned company SAE – A Technotex SA, on June 27, 2016. We told the facts in one of our prior news.
The present case creates a precedent of unacceptable repression to unionist in the free zones of the region and is inconsistent with the current policy of collaboration between South Korea and Nicaragua, which, through the recent signing of a free trade agreement, is intended to improve the economic and labor conditions of all women and men workers operating in the free trade zones of the region.
SAE A Technotex SA is a Korean – owned factory situated in the free-trade zone of Titipapa in Nicaragua. The parent company, SAE-A Trading, is the largest Korea-based multinational apparel production company, with about 20 factories in Asia and Latin America. They are suppliers of US mass-market retailers such as Walmart, Target and Kohl’s.
As a result of the brutality displayed through the intervention of the riot police at the factory floor, many workers were injured and eleven were put behind bars as a ‘preventive measure’. Some of those detained were not workers of Sae A Tecnotex SA but people who happened to be on the premises at the time – including a pregnant worker and a worker with heart problems, from other companies. The workers were kept in preventive imprisonment for five days and only released on July 2.
Despite the unreasonable violence directed at workers by the riot police, as video footage vividly shows, and the fact that the company has finally decided to drop charges, the Nicaraguan state has filed charges against the workers, and they now face trial.
As we pointed ourt, access to potable water, the two dismissed trade unionists reinstated and production goals more adjusted to the reality of the workforce were some of the workers requests.
Forever 21 is one of the largest retailers in the U.S. Founded in the 80’s, in its corporate website indicates that the goal is to become an $8 billion company by 2017 and open 600 stores in the next three years. However, as Natalie Kitroeff from Los Angeles Times points out, U.S. Labor Department investigators have determined that the brand is being supplied by companies in California violating the state minimum wage.
“You can’t buy anything you need. Between rent and food, everything is gone, no money is left,” said Montiel, who lives with two roommates in Boyle Heights. The department said that from April to July, it investigated 77 local garment companies that were supplying some of the biggest clothing stores in the nation. Investigators uncovered labor violations in 85% of the cases, the department said, and found that the companies cheated workers out of $1.1 million. The retailers with ties to companies that had the most offenses were Ross Dress for Less, Forever 21 and TJ Maxx.
Workers were paid as little as $4 an hour, and they got $7 an hour on average — $3 less than the state minimum wage, according to the Labor Department. The department said it has penalized the garment companies and some manufacturers that act as intermediaries between the factories and the retailers. Those companies were ordered to pay $1.3 million in lost wages and damages to workers . But the retailers will avoid any repercussions for hiring factories that violate labor laws. The Labor Department can only penalize companies that directly employ workers. Retailers keep their distance from the factory floors by working with several layers of suppliers, lawyers for the government and worker advocates said.
This is an example of how some companies try to elude responsability in the supply chain. They must control and supervise suppliers, because they get high profits from the «fast fashion – low wages» system.
One of the most recognized football players in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo, has signed a new lucrative contract with Nike.
He kicked off a contract extension last year with worth $13 million a year, as Kurt Badenhausen points out. Other sources indicate that the player of Real Madrid will earn about $24 million a year, altough the variable part of the arrangement could make Ronaldo earn much more (about $40 million a year).
Green and Trendy interviewed Stars for Workers 16/11/2016
Green and Trendy, a leading blog on sustainable fashion interviewed us last week. We explained the aims of our project and the roots behind the development of the initiative. The text is only available in Spanish, but is a nice opportunity to know more about our mision and values.
The former Nike boxer, Manny Pacquiao, has signed a new endorsement deal with Anta, the chinese sporstwear brand.
In the lead-up to Manny’s «retirement» fight against Timothy Bradley, many speculated that he would be signing with another major player in the athletic apparel scene, Under Armour, but nothing came about, and Paquiao went on without a major apparel sponsor. Just days before his return fight against Jessie Vargas however, it looks like Pacman will be having a new sponsor, as Manny announced on his Instagram that he was picked up by Chinese brand Anta as their new global ambassador.
Stars for Workers’s article; externalities of endorsements contracts 02/11/2016
Yporqueno, the blog of www.quierosalvarelmundohaciendomarketing.com, a company providing solutions in communication, innovation and research promoting sustainability for organizations and stakeholders, invited one of the member of the team of Stars for Workers to explain the rationale of the project from a marketing viewpoint.
The article is in Spanish, and shows the difference between positive and negative externalities of sponsorship deals, and the special case of endorsements contracts signed by celebrities. In addition, it justifies the creation of Stars for Workers as a form to balance the externalities of those marketing investments for the brands operating in the garment and shoe indust
Unfortunately there are still countries where persons are jailed for defending the rights of workers. The Clean Clothes Campaign shows the last example:
On 3 December, 2015, the Chinese authorities in Guangdong performed a wide-ranging crackdown on labour rights activists and labour organisations supporting factory workers. Many were detained or went missing, including Zeng Feiyang, the director of the Panyu Workers’ Centre, and Meng Han, a former staff member. Despite others being released in recent months, these two remain in prison where they have been denied the basic right to meet with lawyers, and the government news agency has released defaming reports against them.
The crackdown has been linked to a specific labour dispute at the Lide Shoe Factory in Panyu district, where a strike of more than 2500 workers led to a successful negotiation in 2015 with factory management over social insurance, housing contributions, overtime and other owed payments. Zeng Feiyang, Meng Han and the Panyu Workers’ Centre were actively involved in assisting workers in understanding their legal rights in this negotiation, and their continued detention by Chinese officials is believed to be a punishment and consequence of their supportive role in this struggle. Zhu Xiaomei, a further staff member, has been released on bail with serious charges pending.
Brands such as Raplh Lauren and Calvin Klein are supplied by the Lide Shoe Factory, and they have the responsability to contribute to call for rights in China to be respected. Meng Han, one of the activists, is still on prision.
The Times of India brings the story of 6 women describing sexual harassment they faced at work in a spinning mill in Tamil Nadu (India).
«He forces himself on us, constantly hugging us and squeezing our breasts,» the women write, describing the behaviour of their male supervisor. «Any worker who resists his advances loses part of her salary. We need this job and don’t know who to talk to about the abuse we face everyday. Please help us.»
The Tamil Nadu Textile and Common Labour Union received the letter of the six women at August 29.
Traditionally, the dyeing units, spinning mills and apparel factories have drawn on cheap labour from villages across Tamil Nadu to turn the cotton into yarn, fabric and clothes, most of it for western high street shops. More than 2,000 units employ an estimated 3,00,000 people, most of them young women from poor, illiterate and low-caste or «Dalit» communities. There are around 100 women working in the Rama Spinning mills near Nallamanarkottai village in Dindigul district. «There is constant use of vulgar language and other male workers are also encouraged to seek sexual favours from us,» the letter states.
A recent report published by War on Want exposes the hypocrisy of UNIQLO’s commitment to ‘corporate social responsibility’ and ‘making the world a better place’. A series of undercover investigations by War on Want partner, Students and Scholars against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM), showed excessive overtime, low pay, dangerous working conditions and oppressive management to be rife in UNIQLO’s supplier factories in China.
«This report has exposed the disconnect between the laws that are passed to protect workers and the violation of those rights by factories that produce for brands like UNIQLO. It also demonstrates the disparity between what UNIQLO puts forward as its public image and what it actually does in reality».
A new documentary hit the garment industry; childs from 11 to 15 years old, Syrian refugeees, working in the supply chain of some well-known brands, in Turkey. The BBC journalist Darragh MacIntyre made a great work documenting the reality of dozens of children being exploited with the acknowledge of brands such as Zara or Mango. Brands argue that they are trying to solve this problem, but the problem is still with us.
«I’d been told that child labour was endemic in Turkey. But I wasn’t prepared for the reality of it. Or the scale of it. One basement workshop was almost entirely staffed with children, many of whom couldn’t have been more than seven or eight years old, the very picture of Dickensian misery. I was in Istanbul investigating allegations that Syrian refugees and children are being exploited by the garment industry. And specifically that many are working on clothes destined for our High Street»
«All the brands I contacted about this programme say they regularly inspect the factories making their clothes to guarantee standards. Some of these audits are unannounced. But the Syrian boys explained how the factories got round this problem. When the auditors arrive, they are hidden out of sight. And when the auditors leave, they go back to work. As simple as that. Some of the brands acknowledge the inherent failings in the auditing process and are now trying to tie up with trade unions and NGOs to combat abuses»
The full video has been linked in our resources section.
Yahoo shows the NBA’s top 50 salaries for the 2016/17 season. We consider interesting provide such information, because it reflects extremely large wages compared to a mean worker in the US or any other country. However, we do not question here if they deserve or not such quantity of money. The question here is about the «bonus» they obtain from their endorsement contracts. Donating 90% of their contracts with brands let players earning a bit more of the money we show next. We think they will continue being fortunate.
Kaelyn Forde interviewed Nazma Akter, one of the persons who are struggling to defend workers rights in the garment industry. Aktar is a former worker (she started at the age of 11), and now she speaks about some of her experience there and her vision on the current situation of the sector.
«I worked 14 or 15 hours per day, six — sometimes seven — days a week,» Akter says. «I was the helper, like an assistant, for the machine operator: moving goods and bringing fabric…After that, I became a sewing machine operator.»
«I was treated just like the older workers, and as long as the older workers were working, I needed to also work. I was working for the same production targets [as the adults]. So I didn’t get any emotional support or any kindness. The factory owners, they know that if they use children, we are scared, we are afraid, and we will listen to everything they say.
«The factory conditions were not good. They were not giving us payment on time; they were not following the country’s laws about clean drinking water, maternity leave, job security. Those were huge problems when I was working, and we faced a lot of difficulties when we tried to raise our voices. After the Rana Plaza collapse, the safety issues have been improving, and some factories have unions and freedom of association. But the number is very small. It is not sufficient, so we need more and more factories to be unionised and more and more workers respected. We also need more women in union leadership. We need a living wage and decent lives.»
Regarding boycotting, Akter is very clear:
«The boycott is not effective because if consumers only boycott the goods Bangladesh is producing, then companies will go to another country. If you boycott the exploitation in Bangladesh, then it just goes to Myanmar, then to Cambodia, and so on. But we don’t want to move the exploitation. We want to solve the problem when and where it happens. Consumers need to pressure countries to establish laws and follow international standards. Boycotts would be very difficult for our country. We Bangladeshis who are producing garments don’t have alternate jobs. That is why we are very scared of the boycott. That is why we say that consumers should instead put pressure on governments, or stage demonstrations or mobilisations in front of these stores or company offices.»
The head coach of the Liverpool team, Jürgen Klopp has signed an endorsement deal with the US company New Balance, one of the classic sportswear brand in the market. Sports Pro Media states that the duration nor the financial terms of the deal were released.
“I am excited to now be part of the New Balance team,” said Klopp. “I’ve got to know the brand very well since moving to Liverpool. New Balance shares my enthusiasm for football, always working hard to improve our position in the game and reach our goals. I’m excited for what the future will bring.”
Richard Wright, general manager of New Balance, added: “Jürgen Klopp is one of the best managers in the world and we are delighted to announce him as a signing for New Balance Football. He brings a personality and an exciting style of football to anywhere he goes.”
Mizuno workers still waiting for payment 12/10/2016
In 2012, 346 Indonesian workers were unfairly dismissed. They worked in a factory supplying Mizuno and other brands such Adidas. Four years later, they have not received any compensation for the dismissal.
Clean Clothes Campaign campaigners in Europe are getting together with groups in the United States, Indonesia, Japan and Hong Kong to tell Japanese sports brand Mizuno they will #NeverStopPushing until Mizuno makes sure 346 Indonesian workers receive their fair severance payment after being unfairly dismissed in 2012. The groups urge Mizuno to meet the union representing the workers on Thursday 13 October. Some of the women, who have been working for years on Mizuno sportswear, lost their homes and families after the company producing for Mizuno sacked them. Adidas, another buyer at the factory at the time, also refuses to support the workers financially.
Actions will take place across continents, at Mizuno offices, shops and running events. SBGTS-GSBI president Kokom Komalawati states: «It is clear that without involvement of the buyers Mizuno and adidas, Panarub will not propose a reasonable and fair amount, and not settle the case. We therefore expect from Mizuno, whose website claims Fairness in Business Practices through creating a corporate climate that does not condone unfair acts, to finally take up their responsibility and contribute to the resolution of this case.»
The issue started when in July 2012 a group of 1300 mostly female workers was fired from the PT Panarub Dwikarya Benoa factory (PDK) after a strike demanding the right to freedom of association, a back payment of the legal minimum wage and improvement of the health and safety conditions in the factory. The women also suffered from verbal and physical violence. Early 2012 workers founded the union SBGTS-GSBI. When in July 2012 factory management unilaterally decided to postpone negotiations regarding wage violations, the workers started a spontaneous protest, followed by a strike which was joined by 2000 workers. After five days of strike, the factory management dismissed the workers.
Since 2012, adidas and Mizuno have not brought a solution closer. The workers still get together regulalry and keep calling for a fair severance payment. On the 8th of August, Panarub called for a meeting the next day, giving the union no time to prepare. The company made no offer or movement in the negotiation. After the meeting, Panarub is said to have approached several workers individually with an offer that is inadequate. Despite their hardship, all the workers refused.
NBA rising star of 21 years old, Kristaps Porzingis, is going to sign their first big shoe deal in his career. Adidas has offered between 3 and 6 million dollars per year, but Nike has still the chance to match the terms of the arrangement.
A very profitable business for brands 07/10/2016
We show some financial indicators of several companies operating in developing countries to make clothes and shoes. Sources of these data come from www.statista.com (H&M, Nike, Adidas, Puma, Inditex, Walmart, Under Armour) and www.elpais.es (El Corte Inglés). Data are expressed in US dollars or euros.
There are two type of profits indicators gathered from available data:
(1) Operating income: It is the obtained profit before taxes
(2) Net income: It is the obtained net profit after taxes
As it can be viewed all these giant companies have obtained succulent profits in the last years. Therefore, from a financial viewpoint, it seems clear that they could do much more to improve labour conditions of person working in the beginning of the supply chain without obtaining losses.
Nike and other brands deny raising the wage of
Cambodian’s workers $40 per month 29/09/2016
From www.alternet.org |
Cambodia es one of the preferred locations to make clothes for occidental brands, because of its low wages.
This month, labor unions representing hundreds of thousands of garment workers proposed a hike in the industry-wide minimum wage from $140 a month to $179.60. They’ve been met with stiff opposition from the factory owners’ lobby, the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, which countered with its own monthly minimum wage offer of $144.20. Many Western brands, too, have declined to endorse the unions’ proposal.
In These Times reached out to six of the top U.S. and European brands with contracts in Cambodia—Walmart, Nike, Adidas, Levi Strauss & Co., H&M and Gap Inc.—asking for their position on the unions’ proposed minimum wage hike. None of them endorsed the proposal. Walmart and Nike did not respond; Adidas, Levi’s, H&M and Gap all highlighted their support of ongoing negotiations
The Asia Floor Wage Alliance, an international alliance of trade unions and labor rights advocates that focuses on the garment industry, has calculated Cambodia’s “living wage” to be $283 a month—far above what local unions are demanding.
Therefore, brands are denying a marginal raise in wages compared to what international organizations are demanding to reach the living wage.
Tim Newcomb, from Sole Collector, shows how shoe deals work in the NBA, after interviewing Alex Saratsis, agent at Octagon.
“The biggest misnomer is that everyone is getting a lot of money and everyone is getting paid. Now, these shoe companies are very methodical in whom they go after. If they can add an extra million to KD’s compensation or LeBron’s comp over adding a bunch of guys that won’t push product, they will. Very few guys are getting paid good money to endorse shoes.”
You can break sneaker contracts into three basic tiers. Guys one through five on each team offer the most variations in deals. All these guys earn a combination of cash and product, but that cash can swing wildly based on the player’s status as an All-Star, their stat lines, and even where they play. These deals generally run the longest—often four years.
You can break sneaker contracts into three basic tiers. Guys one through five on each team offer the most variations in deals. All these guys earn a combination of cash and product, but that cash can swing wildly based on the player’s status as an All-Star, their stat lines, and even where they play. These deals generally run the longest—often four years.
“If one shoe company is offering a contract wildly above market, no matter your loyalty you will go with that shoe company,” Saratsis says. “If you talk about the #1 pick in the draft, they go to the highest bidder.” When you move into the late first-round or second-round guys and the deals dip into $30,000 cash plus $30,000 worth of product, that’s when loyalty or preference falls back in line.
Therefore, it is an interesting reading to know more about the quantities earned by NBA players.
The Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights alerts about the situation of workers at Hanna Knitwear, a factory placed in Bangladesh which is a supplier of several European brands, such as El Corte Inglés of Spain (Espirit, Sfera, Dustin)
«In April, the Institute met with Hannan Knitwear workers who described the severe abuses at the factory, including long hours of forced overtime, abusive treatment and denial of legal benefits. One of the workers we met was Kajol Rekha, then nearly six months pregnant. She had managed to hide her pregnancy so far, but feared that as soon as her bosses found out they would fire her to avoid paying her legal maternity benefits».
«In May, the Institute wrote a letter to Hannan’s customers asking that they move to assure that their contractor reduce working hours to legal levels, end the abuses and pay workers the wages and benefits they are legally owed. The buyers wrote back jointly saying they would investigate and act immediately».
On September 3 we received this note from the Institute’s office in Bangladesh:
The factory continues to work grueling hours almost every day. The factory works seven days a week. Workers of the factory did not get a day off in August. They worked all the Fridays and a public holiday. The linking, finishing, packing and ironing section workers often work until 11.00 p.m., 12:00 or 1:00 a.m. This is one of the worst factories that we are working on now. Please take some strong action to end the abuses at this factory
H&M continues being criticized regarding the suffering of workers in some of its suppliers in Asia.. After news about employing 14-years old kids in Myanmar, now the Clean Clothes Campaing states «that working conditions in garment factories in Cambodia supplying H&M are far from decent even in those that H&M considers to be «best in class». This is the conclusion of a report released by Cambodian NGO Center for Alliance of Labor & Human Rights (CENTRAL) and Future In Our Hands, which represents Clean Clothes Campaign in Norway. The report «When ‘best’ is far from good enough» is based on interviews with workers and describes labour rights violations in four of H&M’s key suppliers in Cambodia».
As CCC informs, «the report, which researched three of H&M’s so called ‘platinum’ suppliers and one ‘gold’ supplier, discovered that H&M in these factories does not live up to its own sustainability guidelines in the field of contracts and freedom of association. H&M has committed to work towards a living wage, but the factories researched were still very far from reaching that goal. Workers also reported wage cuts for arriving only a few minutes late, inadequate sick leave practices, restrictions on toilet break and faintings at the factory floor».
The average total wages per month before overtime at the three platinum suppliers in the researched period of time was US$172.51, below the stipulated industry median (US$178/month) in terms of wages. H&M pledged to work towards a living wage, but workers in these factories are still earning less than many of their colleagues working for other brands.
The lack of independent unions is another pervasive problem: «Workers at three of the four researched suppliers expressed discontent with absence of independent unions and lack of freedom of association. They feared being discriminated against or forced to resign if they tried to form a union and could recall specific examples of this. Some workers described a practice of deduction of membership fee from their wages without their consent».
The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) claims that the recent tragedy of the Tampoco Foil factory in Bangladesh shows «the callous disregard of the Bangladesh government for workers’ safety, and the failure of multinational companies doing business with the factory to take responsibility for the lives of workers in their supply chains».
«The workers died when a boiler exploded in the factory building, an old structure to which extra floors had been added, spreading fire and eventually causing the building to collapse. The cramped building, full of flammable materials, was entirely unsuitable for a factory, and according to information received by the ITUC, had only one working exit.»
«Factory owner Syed Mokbul Hussain, a former member of parliament, is being sued by the parents of one of the deceased, for culpable homicide. More than half the members of Bangladesh’s parliament have business interests, many of them factory owners. Requests by factory workers in Bangladesh to register their trade unions are routinely ignored by the government; thus, workers have been able to organise in only a tiny percentage of factories. Major multinational companies, including British American Tobacco, Mondelez and Nestle have been publicly named as using the factory in their supply chains.»
Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said: “These global brands all claim to have strict supplier standards to protect workers from just this kind of tragedy. When companies make bogus claims to regulators and shareholders there are real sanctions, but when it comes to protecting workers’ lives there are no legal consequences. There is no substitute for the rule of law; however, even the most basic right for workers to form unions to protect their rights and safety is routinely suppressed by the Bangladesh government. Yet again, the need for legal accountability and compliance across global supply chains is evident and we call on governments, starting with the G20, to make this a reality as a matter of urgency.”
Maria Hengeveld and Slate Magazine discuss about the paradoxical behavior of Nike, promoting «The Girl Effect» campaign and empowering women as athletes (Da Da Ding)…but at the same time failing to correclty address the situation of thousands of women working to make its apparell and gear.
«Many of the world’s most powerful anti-poverty agencies and policymakers have embraced these ideals, including UNICEF, USAID, the World Bank, the World Economic Forum, and the Clinton Global Initiative. Prominent women’s rights advocates and rescue organizations — among them Half the Sky, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Oprah Winfrey, President Barack and first lady Michelle Obama, and the president’s U.S. ambassador for global women’s issues, Melanne Verveer — have been proponents of the Girl Effect as well.
The Girl Effect was born amid an urgent PR crisis two decades ago, when Vietnamese Nike workers spoke to labor advocates and journalists about being routinely beaten by their managers; dozens of other news stories exposed negative working conditions in overseas factories making products for Nike. Under public pressure to take responsibility for its supply chain, then-CEO Phil Knight admitted that the company had become «synonymous with slave wages, forced overtime, and arbitrary abuse.» He promised to not only transform Nike’s supply chain but to lead the entire apparel industry into a new era of corporate social responsibility. Soon after, Nike employed two women, Maria Eitel and Hannah Jones, to overhaul the company’s image. Both had extensive media experience; Eitel had served as a media adviser to President George H.W. Bush.
The for-profit company has invested millions in the Nike Foundation and its Girl Effect campaign, led by Eitel, who is president and CEO of the Nike Foundation. The campaign had early seed funding from the NoVo Foundation as well as support from the United Nations Foundation and the United Kingdom. (The Girl Effect was spun off into its own organization in 2015, with Eitel as its chairwoman.) Today Nike’s profits, brand value, and corporate responsibility image are all in top-form.
But what effect has the Girl Effect had on Nike’s own supply chain? Of the estimated million-plus workers who cut, stitch, sew, glue, label, and package shoes, sports fashion, and collegiate apparel for Nike contractors (including for Nike brands Converse and Hurley), almost a third work in Vietnam, the single largest host to Nike manufacturing in the world. With at least 75 contracted factories there, Nike is a major driver of employment in the country. About 80 percent of workers in Nike’s Vietnam factories are women and girls; some may be as young as 16, the minimum age for certain factory work in Nike’s Code of Conduct. Many migrate from poor rural areas in the central and northern provinces of the country to industrial parks in the south. According to Nike, they are often «the first women in their family to work in the formal economy.»
Over four weeks in January, I interviewed 18 women, 23 to 55 years old, who currently or recently produced, labeled, and packaged Nike shoes and apparel at five different factories within 30 miles of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. These plants are listed on Nike’s site as employing more than 61,000 female line workers, and Nike sends inspectors to the sites to monitor working conditions and compliance with the company’s Code of Conduct. Nike wouldn’t put me in touch with employees of its contract factories, so I contacted an underground workers’ rights organization and an independent researcher who specializes in women’s issues. The women they introduced me to live in squalid conditions near the factories, where they mostly share single rooms with two to five family members. Joined by translators, I visited their homes, met some of their daughters and families, listened to their stories, and collected documents including company policies and pay slips.
Although they may be unfamiliar with Nike’s global campaign, the goal of the women I spoke with sounds a lot like the Girl Effect — to raise themselves and their families out of poverty. Each of the 18 women, however, reported pay so low they could not even meet the basic needs of their families, let alone save money or contribute to their communities. (Four had been laid off less than three months before we met, after their factory building burnt down; they spoke only about their wages and child care, cautious of giving critiques that might jeopardize their chances of getting hired back.) They told me that they would need to earn between three to four times their current salaries to offer their families a basic level of economic security. The average monthly wage for manufacturing in Vietnam was $200 in 2015. Their stories highlighted something the Girl Effect campaign is silent about: the importance of a living wage.
I also found evidence that Nike’s contract factories breach basic Girl Effect tenets of freedom from exploitation and harassment, security, safety, and Nike’s own Code of Conduct, put in place to prohibit, among other things, harassment, abuse, and nonconsensual overtime. Women who worked in different factories told remarkably similar stories of being subjected to arbitrary punishments — such as financial penalties and threats of dismissal for making manufacturing mistakes, not working quickly enough, or coming in late, along with intimidation and ongoing humiliation by managers.
Finally, although the Girl Effect champions the importance of women protecting and empowering their own children, the women in Vietnam explained to me why their low wages make it impossible for them to ensure their children’s safety. The 10 mothers with young children whom I spoke with either send their children to unlicensed child care services they consider underqualified or dangerous or they leave them with family in home villages they are able to visit only once or twice a year.»
This is an excellent investigation which deserves to be fully read.
Daisy Dumas, from The Sydney Morning Herald tells the story of Rina Roat, a Cambodian girl who at the age of 16 started to work in a sweatshop, lying about her true age (the minimum for working was 18).
As Dumas explaines, Rina found herself behind a sewing machine in a room with 359 other workers, making a globally famous brand of jeans. At the government factory, she earned $45 a month. Her official hours were eight hours a day, six days a week. In reality, she worked as long as it took to complete the task she was assigned – and shifts would extend to 15, 20 or even 24 hours long.
«It was an assembly line, one person had to iron 50 jeans an hour, another person had to attach 250 buttons an hour. If you do one less, you would be shouted at, if you kept being too slow, you would be fired. It was very hot and dusty, everyday they have people who would faint because it was too hot.»
She was docked $5 for every day of work she missed due to illness.
«We all feel angry. I feel angry. It’s not fair. I worked in a government factory, I saw the price they put on the jean, I know how those jeans are made. The jeans were $59, just one jean was more than my salary for one month.»
The facts were 15 years ago. Roat left the factory 18 months later. And while the wages have since gone up to around $180 a month, conditions remain very poor, says Hagar International’s Grace Smith, who works with Roat to encourage young people into jobs that are sustainable and empowering. As an ambassador for the charity, Roat mentors women, offering them alternatives to garment factory work, often seen as the only option for Cambodia’s disadvantaged youth.
Swedish fashion chain H&M worked with clothing factories in Myanmar where children as young as 14 toiled for more than 12 hours a day, according to a book being published in Sweden next week. “They employed anyone who wanted to work,” Zu Zu, one of the girls who started work aged 14, told the authors of Modeslavar, or Fashion Slaves in English.
Writers Moa Kärnstrand and Tobias Andersson Akerblom met with 15-year-old girls who were working until 10pm in breach of Myanmar’s laws and the international labour convention. The girls were working for two factories, Myanmar Century Liaoyuan Knitted Wear and Myanmar Garment Wedge, both near the capital, Yangon.
H&M said it had taken action with both factories over ID-cards and overtime after being made aware that a group of 14- to 17-year-olds had been working long hours since 2013.
However, it said in a statement: “When 14– to 18-year-olds are working it is therefore not a case of child labour, according to international labour laws. ILO instead stresses the importance of not excluding this age group from work in Myanmar. H&M does of course not tolerate child labour in any form.”
The revelations raise new fears about conditions in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, where British retailers including Marks & Spencer, Tesco, Primark and New Look who have joined H&M, C&A, Aldi and Gap in recent years.
Erinch Sahan, from Oxfam, which carried out research into working conditions in Myanmar factories last year, said the charity had not looked into child labour but had found a high prevalence of forced overtime and low pay.“I am not hugely surprised these problems are happening given the scale of disempowerment of workers in Myanmar,” Sahan said.
All of the British retailers contacted by the Guardian said they had policies in place which banned their suppliers from using child labour – classed as 14 in developing countries under International Labour Organisation (ILO) recommendations, although it says children aged 13 to 15 may do light work, as long as it does not threaten their health and safety, or hinder their education.
Marks & Spencer, which works with three factories in Myanmar, said its suppliers were only allowed to employ over-18s. New Look and Primark said workers in its factories had to be over 16, and all this was checked through regular visits and other measures. They all said they did not use the factories highlighted by Modeslaver. Tesco said only that it did not allow child labour.
H&M said: “It is of utmost importance to us that our products are made under good working conditions and with consideration to safety, health and the environment. We have therefore taken action regarding two suppliers in Myanmar which have had problems with ID-cards and overtime.”
The retailer added that the revelation that teenagers had been working long hours at its suppliers’ factories violating international recommendations and local rules was “unacceptable”.
“Any overtime must be in accordance with legislation as well as our own demands, this is particularly important when it comes to the age group 14-18. If a supplier doesn’t live up to our standards or national legislation we – in accordance with our routines – demand that the supplier immediately establishes an action plan, which has been done also in this case. One of the measures concerning the two suppliers in question is improved recruitment routines, which has resulted in improved handling of ID-cards,” the H&M said.
Myanmar Century Liaoyuan Knitted Wear and Myanmar Garment Wedge did not respond to requests for comment.
Behind the electrified fences of Sri Lanka’s free trade zones are factories full of women, paying a high price for making the cheap clothes sold on the UK high street. War on Want’s Thulsi Narayanasamy explains.
I met Disna at the union headquarters close to one of Sri Lanka’s many free trade zones. The two-storey building sits along a narrow pot-holed path, lined with coconut trees and humming with mosquitoes. She was already there when I arrived: sitting carefully holding her bandaged fingers with her left hand. Disna has been a garment worker in factories since she was 16. There were few options for paid work in her village.
On the day of her accident, her boss told her she was not to take her usual place at the sewing machine. Instead, she was ordered to operate the notoriously dangerous button machine: a large steel contraption which operates by rapidly punching buttons onto clothing.
Everyone knew the risks of operating the machine: there was no safety equipment. Disna refused at first but was told if she wanted to keep her job, she’d have to work the machine.
Slowly and deliberately she set to work. Soon after, she stopped to check whether a button was properly attached. Without warning the machine punched down, crushing her hand. Disna collapsed in pain.
It took her fellow workers some time to free her from the tangle of wires that lay on the floor around her work station. Today, Disna keeps her arm tightly bandaged, and is in constant pain. She completely lost the use of her right hand and arm, and the extensive nerve damage gives her permanent migraines.
In what should be a straightforward case, the factory and brand are refusing to offer compensation. Disna’s case is one of many.
Sri Lanka is a signatory to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions which require all workers to have the right to organise unions in their workplaces. Yet despite the rhetoric from local and foreign clothing brands on their commitment to workers’ rights, the stark reality for women like Disna remains long hours, poverty pay and scant regard for safety.
Most of Sri Lanka’s garment factories are located within the country’s free trade zones. Here security is tight and intent on keeping workers insulated from the influence of trade unions, and so learning about their rights enshrined in national and international law.
Disna would be alone, with ongoing medical expenses and no support, if it were not for the union fighting her corner and taking her case to court.
The ongoing work of War on Want partner Free Trade Zones & General Services Employees Union has been vital in raising awareness of workers’ rights.
Thanks to training, garment workers are now refusing to accept unsafe working conditions or abuse by their bosses: together they are fighting back.
Solidarity Center Asia Region Director Tim Ryan calls the move “a much-delayed step in the right direction,” but adds:
“Over the past three years, the Bangladesh government has approved fewer and fewer union registration applications. Through their unions, workers are able to speak out freely about safety and health concerns at their worksites and prevent horrible tragedies like Rana Plaza. Limiting workers from forming unions puts workers’ safety at risk.”
Arim ul-Haq Amin, president of the National Garment Workers Federation, told Australia-based ABC news that he is disappointed it took so long for perpetrators to be held accountable. He called on multinational companies and garment brands to take responsibility for worker safety.
Some brands stepped up after international outrage over the 2013 Rana Plaza and the 2012 Tazreen Fashions Ltd., factory fire prompted creation of the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Accord, a legally binding agreement in which nearly 200 corporate clothing brands and trade unions are supporting garment factory inspections and repairs to ensure safe workplaces. Dozens of garment factories have been closed for safety violations and pressing safety issues addressed.
Many of the 2,000 survivors of the Rana Plaza, and families of those who perished, say they received little or no compensation following the building collapse. Many survivors suffered injuries so severe they are unable to work, and without sufficient compensation, are unable to support themselves and their families.
A new sad case of child abuse in the garment industry has appeared in Bangladesh. A 9 years-old kid was killed at textile mill after being tortured with a compressor.
«Police were still searching for the mill’s owner and managers who have fled since the boy’s death and face charges of underage employment. Police inspector Jasim Uddin, who is investigating the death, said senior mill employees had been angry with the boy and his father, who also worked there, for entering a restricted area. The boy had apparently gone to clean near a compressor at the mill, which supplies yarn to textile factories making clothes for western retailers».
Sadly, this is not an isolate case: «The incident comes after a 13-year-old boy was killed in the same way last August in the south-western city of Khulna, sparking furious protests demanding justice for the child. Two men have been sentenced to death over that case»
«Nationwide demonstrations were also held last July over the lynching of another 13-year-old boy, who was tied to a pole and beaten to death after he was accused of stealing a bicycle. Six men were sentenced to death for that killing in the city of Sylhet, which was captured on video and uploaded on to social media. The boy was heard pleading for his life».
«Mills and other factories are barred from hiring workers under the age of 18. But Unicef estimates that 4.9 million children aged from five to 14 are working in numerous industries in Bangladesh, many in hazardous conditions and for little pay».
The more than 3,000 workers who make up the payroll of the company capital Korean Sae A Technotex SA achieved the first administrative commitments of the company, after two days of protest that left 13 prisoners and dozens of wounded. Pedro Ortega, labor secretary of the Confederation of Free Trade zones, said that after negotiations between union members the Democratic effort and the company agreed to the cessation of violence and return to normal today.
Access to potable water, the two dismissed trade unionists reinstated and production goals more adjusted to the reality of the workforce were some of the workers requests.
SAE A Technotex SA is a Korean – owned factory situated in the free-trade zone of Titipapa in Nicaragua. They are suppliers of several US mass-market retailers such as Walmart, Target and Kohl’s.
These news contrasts with the statement of the company: «focus on employees«, as it may be read in its corporate website.
Australian basketball phenomenon Ben Simmons, 19, has signed a shoe deal worth more than $16million with Nike before even playing his first game in the NBA.
The Melbourne teen’s deal with Nike is worth $16.1 million and will run for his first five seasons in the NBA, according to The Vertical. Incredibly, Simmons turned down an even more lucrative contract with rival shoe giant Adidas, which was offering him a five year deal worth as much as $17.5 million – including signing bonuses and incentives.