by | Aug 8, 2016 | Blog, reports, Shoes
New report uncovers labour rights violations within the Chinese shoe industry
A new research report from the Change Your Shoes campaign highlights labour rights violations within the Chinese shoe industry.
China is by far the global leader in footwear production: it turned out over 15.7 billion pairs of shoes in 2014 alone.
Researchers surveyed employees in three shoe factories producing for European brands such as Adidas, Clarks and Ecco, in the Chinese coastal province Guangdong in late 2015, and found alarming labour rights violations.
“Among other infringements, salaries are far below a living wage, workers are forced to work overtime, they have insufficient protection from health and safety risks, unpaid social insurance contributions and suffer state violence to suppress strikes” said Anton Pieper from Sudwind, the German partner of the Change Your Shoes campaign and one of the authors of the report.
Labour rights violations appear commonplace within the Chinese shoe industry, even though China has some progressive labour laws and workers enjoy many protections – on paper at least – although freedom of association and freedom of assembly is denied. As illustrated in this new research, when it comes to the shoe industry in China many international standards of labour rights are not being upheld.
by | Apr 11, 2016 | Campaigns, Worker safety
The 24th April 2015 will be the two year anniversary of the Rana Plaza building collapse, the deadliest disaster in the history of the global garment industry. Join this global day of action, uniting with people worldwide to demand justice for the victims, to hold brands and retailers accountable and to ensure that vital and lasting changes are made in the global apparel industry.
Why we must act
On April 24, 2013, the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh, housing five garment factories, came crashing down. At least 1,134 people lost their lives. Many were killed instantly. Many more were buried alive under eight stories of concrete and machinery, among the remains of the garments that they were producing for global corporations. Thousands were injured and severely traumatized. Some people were forced to amputate their own limbs in order to escape this concrete grave.
In the days and weeks immediately following the Rana Plaza disaster, the world united in pledging support for the survivors and victims’ families. Governments, apparel brands, and the public called for urgent change to the industry. Unfortunately, change has been slow in coming, and many initial promises made have since eroded.
Action remains urgently needed and necessary. Some multinational brands are still refusing to pay what they owe in compensation. This is unacceptable.
Join us! It’s easy.
- Download the action menu for a full list of things to do
- Commit to taking action on, or in advance of, April 24, 2015, by signing up to this facebook event.
- Check if there is a demonstration already happening near you on this map. If there isn’t one that you can join, find a Benetton or Asda store near you, and plan a demonstration for April 24th with some friends. Add it to the map!
- If you only have a few minutes, post a solidarity message on facebook or twitter such as: ‘No one should die for the price of cheap t-shirt. Remember #RanaPlaza.’ or ‘Cheap Ts cost lives. Remember #RanaPlaza. #Solidarity’
- Set a reminder on your phone to hold a minute of silence on 24 April, at 11.34 to remember the 1134 people who died two years ago
What we want
On the Global Day of Action (April 24th), and leading up to then, join us to call for industry reforms, demanding that people are put above profit, and safeguarding workers’ welfare and livelihoods.
- We demand that Rana Plaza survivors and victims’ families receive the full compensation they are entitled to.
- We demand all apparel brands and retailers doing business in Bangladesh sign the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety.
- We demand transparency and due diligence.
- We demand accountability and access to justice.
- We demand freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining.
There must never be another Rana Plaza. The only way to ensure this is to thread these principles through the foundations of the industry.
Together we will continue to remember the victims who died for the price of the cheap clothes we wear. Together we must secure justice for their families through full compensation. Together we can reform the industry so that all garment workers are afforded a safe and dignified life.
by | Apr 11, 2016 | Campaigns, Worker safety
Nearly 30 demonstrators, including a survivor of the Rana Plaza building collapse, were arrested (12.3.15) after organizing a peaceful protest at Children’s Place headquarters in New Jersey. The protestors were there to ask the company to pay compensation to victims of the Rana Plaza factory collapse, the deadliest disaster in the history of the garment industry.
Children’s Place was one of the major brands sourcing from Rana Plaza at the time that it collapsed, killing 1,138 workers and injuring another 2,500. 18-year-old Mahinur Begum, a former garment worker who was nearly killed in the collapse, was at Children’s Place to demand full and fair compensation for herself and her coworkers.
Rather than listen to this brave survivor and her colleagues, Children’s Place called police and had the peaceful demonstrators arrested. It is the latest callous act from a company that has refused to take responsibility for the deplorable human rights violations occurring in its supply chain. It has contributed a mere $450,000 to the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund, 15 times less than what companies of similar size and level of purchasing from Rana Plaza have paid into the fund. The $8 million demonstrators asked Children’s Place to contribute is half the salary CEO Jane Elfers earned in 2012.
Children’s Place’s continued refusal to pay the $8 million it owes Rana Plaza victims is corporate greed, plain and simple. And now it’s trying to silence criticism rather than do the right thing for Mahinur and her coworkers.
Your support is vital to call for Children’s Place’s to pay the $8 million it owes Rana Plaza victim. Please sign the petition here.
by | Apr 11, 2016 | Campaigns, Worker safety
Labour Behind the Label has been meeting survivors and families of victims of the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh this week and is shocked and deeply saddened by the number of people who, 18 months on, are unable to find work or rebuild their lives.
“Factory owners are turning ex Rana Plaza workers away, judging them as too ‘damaged’ and too much of a risk to take on,” says Samantha Maher, of Labour Behind the Label, who has been in Bangladesh this month, “it is shocking to see how defeated so many people are, especially in comparison to the other workers we met.”
In the aftermath of the terrible collapse in April 2013, much has been done to prevent another disaster and for those who were not working in one of the five factories in Rana Plaza the measures being introduced through the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Safety offer the hope of a safer future.
However, for more than 2,000 women and men who survived the collapse, compensation has not been forthcoming and 18 months after the collapse the compensation fund still needs US$20 million. The current shortfall is being blamed on the failure of leading brands like Benetton, who were sourcing from the factory, to make even an initial payment into the Trust Fund.
The significance of not receiving full payments can be felt most keenly when talking to young women who are head of households. Alongside the physical and emotional damages suffered they have no financial security.
Women like 18 year old Mahinu Akter, who just two days before the collapse of Rana Plaza, became the sole earner in her family when her father was killed in a bus accident. Mahinu, had been working at Rana Plaza since she was 14, to help support her mother and two brothers. Mahinu has only received just 95,000 taka or £770 in compensation.
Mahinu sustained head injuries, and lost a toe in the collapse. She spent 20 days in hospital. Once she was released she was in bed for a month and couldn’t eat. Even now she struggles to eat and has lost her appetite. She suffers from pains in her feet, swollen legs, memory loss and constant headaches.
The fact that the Rana Plaza Donor Trust Fund has only been able to provide 40% of the compensation payments due to Mahinu and others like her – due to big brands not paying what they owe – means that, for most, making long term plans are impossible.
“In many cases the fact that full compensation cannot be made is having a serious impact on the usefulness of these payments. Receiving money in small amounts means that for people already living in dire financial straits they have no choice but to use it for daily life, instead of saving it or investing in a new business or land to ensure they will manage in the long run,” adds Sam Maher.
Benetton said in the aftermath of the collapse that it was committed to “working directly with those affected by the Rana Plaza disaster” however by failing to commit to the ILO managed Rana Plaza Donor Trust Fund, they have failed the women and men they relied on to make their profits.
Instead of receiving the compensation they are entitled to, young women like Mahinu remain at the mercy of charitable donations, which can be unpredictable and inconsistent and leaves those unable to find work in a cycle of poverty.
Mahinu, as with so many others, sees little chance that brands, like Benetton, will pay up, “It doesn’t matter what we think about compensation, we know they will never give it to us,” she says.
by | Apr 11, 2016 | Press release
For immediate release
Labour Behind the Label
7th April 2016
Labour Rights groups demand H&M deliver ‘safety conscious’ fashion
Labour rights groups in Europe, Bangladesh and North America are demanding that H&M finally keep its promises to make its Bangladeshi supplier factories safe. In the run up to H&M’s 2016 Annual General Meeting in Solna, Sweden on May 3rd, labour rights groups are increasing pressure on the fashion brand. A review of corrective action plans relating to 32 of H&M’s strategic suppliers, carried out this week, shows that the majority of these factories still lack adequate fire exits nearly three years after H&M committed to improve working conditions by signing the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety.
The call to action comes as the Swedish fast fashion retailer increases attempts to promote its sustainability commitments in the face of growing criticism of worker rights abuses in its supply chains. The launch of H&M’s “Conscious Exclusive Collection,” taking place today at the Louvre in Paris, is one of several events H&M is holding to promote itself as a “sustainable” company. This will be followed by the launch of a video by pop star M.I.A. to promote H&M’s “World Recycle Week,” scheduled for the April 18-24, the same week that labour rights activists will commemorate the 1,134 workers killed by the Rana Plaza building collapse. That devastating garment industry disaster in 2013 originally led to the signing of the Bangladesh Accord.
Workers’ rights advocates have called on H&M to prove its commitments through action rather than stunts. They are specifically urging the company by ensure that three vital repairs – the removal of locks from fire exits, the removal of sliding doors and collapsible gates, and the installation of fire-rated doors and enclosure of stairwells – are completed by the time of the company’s Annual Meeting on May 3rd.
The importance of such repairs was once again underscored by a huge fire at a H&M supplier, Matrix Sweaters Ltd, in February. Only a handful of people suffered injuries, largely due to the fact that most workers had yet to arrive for their shift. The Accord’s inspection report for the factory revealed that it had missed dozens of deadlines to eliminate fire hazards and make the structure safe. Had the fire broken out just an hour later, scores of workers may have been trapped inside.
As a response to H&M’s inaction, the Clean Clothes Campaign, International Labor Rights Forum, and United Students Against Sweatshops have launched a campaign demanding H&M address its broken promises, with a campaign website, www.hmbrokenpromises.com.
1. Labour Behind the Label is the UK platform of the Clean Clothes Campaign. The Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) works to improve conditions and support the empowerment of workers in the global garment industry. The CCC has national campaigns in 15 European countries with a network of 250 organisations worldwide.
2. Labour Behind the Label will be organising a shop action alongisde War on Want in London outside H&M’s Oxford Street shop in the week running up to the Rana Plaza anniversary. For more info please contact Anna McMullen: firstname.lastname@example.org
3. There will be store actions taking place across Europe and North America on 3rd May outside H&M stores to coincide with H&M’s AGM. For more info on where an action is taking place please see: www.hmbrokenpromises.com.