So, today is D-Day for our new Sixers…..it’s time to watch this space to see what they are getting up to during their Challenge to wear just six items of clothing for six weeks. Follow the blog, read up on their progress and, importantly Cheer Them On!! We have utmost respect for all the fantastic people who have taken part in this fundraising and awareness-raising Challenge. So, we’re just going to give you a little idea of what the amazing £5,000 that was raised has contributed to…
Pakistan: the factory fires that devastated the lives of hundreds of garment workers this winter were epitomised by the Ali Enterprises disaster in September where around 300 workers died. Earlier this month Sam Maher of LBL, our Urgent Appeals Co-ordinator, organised a delegation to Pakistan to meet the families of the victims, interview survivors and gather information to solidify the calls for compensation. So far, under pressure from the Clean Clothes Campaign, German retailer KIK have stumped up £1million; we are lobbying for a further £25million from KIK and from the auditors who, incredibly, passed the factory as safe for work just 3 weeks before the blaze. Scandalously, the president of Pakistan has been accused of a failure to bring forth justice.
A group of Clean Clothes Campaign (Sam from LBL is in front, seated) workers meet local people in Pakistan affected by the garment factory fire in September.
A young woman mourns her brother who died in the Ali Enterprise factory fire: she would like the government to help identify her brother’s as yet unfound body and compensate her family for their massive loss.
India: Labour Behind the Label attended a wage tribunal in Bangalore where workers, unions and human rights groups gave evidence about the gross mistreatment of workers and the hardships people undergo when they are not paid a living wage. While giving evidence a 37 year old Bangalore worker and mother, Yamuna, spoke about a factory producing for the middle man Texport
Overseas Group, which supplies Gap, H&M, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Armani:
“The wage was very low. I could not even feed my 3 children with at least bread and milk. My daughter asked me one day, ‘Why you gave birth to me if you are not able to feed me properly?’ I pledged my mangalasutra [necklace equivalent to a western wedding ring] to pay my children’s school examination fees.”
At the end of a 2 day hearing, judges found overwhelming evidence of ‘grave and systematic violations of individual and collective human rights’ suffered by garment workers and called for immediate action to be taken by a variety of stakeholders.
Anna from Labour behind the Label helps distribute union magazines to workers outside a garment factory in Bangalore – women activists there are keen to ensure that workers know their rights so that they feel empowered to act for better wages and working conditions.
It’s not all been international travel, important though this can be for ensuring that factories, governments and workers are all given the chance to dialogue. In this way the needs of workers can be recognised. Back here in the UK (where we mostly are!) Labour Behind the Label have also been working closely on the international campaign to compensate PT Kizone workers with the severance and back pay they are owed. Bringing Adidas (the main buyer) to book seems to be a long process, given that Nike and other brands have already stumped up their share of the $3million needed. We are also still acting to protect workers in the garment industry from fatal lung disease due to the unnecessary cosmetic process of sandblasting denim. This has the same acute and deadly health effects as heavy coal mining! Quite a price for worn jeans… Additionally, we are embarking on some new projects this year – more on living wages, sportswear – and we’ll update you with campaign launches as they come!