Action Update: Number 28

Action Update: Number 28

Find our what Labour Behind the Label have been up to in our bi-annual Action Update.

In this issue you will find information on Bangladeshi garment workers’ ongoing struggle for fair pay in the face of violent government repression, as well as an update on the future of the Accord and our concerns over worker safety. We share our findings on the dismal state of pay in the global garment industry with the launch of our new report: Tailored Wages UK 2019, and update you on our campaign for H&M to keep its promise and pay garment workers a living wage. This issue also takes a look at fast fashion and the environmental crisis, and contains information on how you can get involved with our campaigns and join our activist army.

Read it here: Action Update: Number 28

Action Update: Summer 2018

Action Update: Summer 2018

Find our what Labour Behind the Label have been up to in our bi-annual Action Update.


This issue marks five years since the devastating Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh, and this issue takes a look at which brands have yet to sign the Transition Accord for Bangladeshi workers safety, and marks campaign success as Next, Sainsburys and Debenhams sign up to protect their workers. We are celebrating a transparency campaign win as fast-fashion clothing giant Primark caves to pressure and discloses their supplier list. There is information on H&M’s forgotten promise to pay a living wage to their garment workers, a message to the England football team as they return home from a strong World Cup performance, and a celebration for the acquittal of Cambodian workers rights activist Tola Moeun.

Read it here: Action Update Summer 2018

Day of action calls for urgent change for workers in the shoe industry

Day of action calls for urgent change for workers in the shoe industry

Waste from leather tanneries in Bangladesh (c) GMB Akash

6 October 2017

Day of action calls for urgent change for workers in the shoe industry

  • Concerned groups will be taking action at shoe stores in Bristol, Exeter, London and Manchester on Saturday 7 October – join an event near you
  • Petition already has over 10,000 signatures asking Schuh, Office, Harvey Nichols, Primark, Boohoo.com and other leading UK brands and retailers to publish supplier information and take responsibility for working conditions

People across the UK are taking to shopping centres this weekend to call for urgent action to improve safety and conditions for workers in the global shoe industry.

Groups are coming together in Bristol, Exeter, London and Manchester after hearing about the dangerous conditions and poverty wages endured by people toiling in leather tanneries and shoe factories to make the footwear we buy on our high streets. On Saturday 7 October, they want to share this message with shoppers and encourage shoe brands to Step Up and respect the workers who make their shoes.

Organised by Change Your Shoes – a partnership of 18 organisations across Europe and Asia – the ‘Step Up’ day of action falls on the World Day for Decent Work, when organisations around the world call for decent wages and safe working conditions for all workers.

85% of all leather sold in Europe is tanned with chromium, often in countries like India and Bangladesh. The leather tanning process produces a toxic chemical called chromium VI which can cause asthma, eczema, blindness and cancer. When it transfers to waste water it causes harmful pollution to the environment and to those living and working nearby. Campaigners are calling on leading shoe brands to move away from the use of toxic chemicals in shoe production. They are also calling on these brands to show that they are willing to be held accountable for working conditions by publishing details of all their suppliers, and to respect the human rights of all workers who make their shoes.

“We all buy shoes. But how many of us know the reality behind the boots and heels we buy?” said Nicola Round from Labour Behind the Label. ““We have written to 11 leading UK shoe brands and retailers, but unfortunately most have not responded fully to our questions – including Schuh, Primark and Boohoo.com. Harvey Nichols and Office have not responded at all. Shoe brands hide behind a lack of transparency and public awareness, but their customers want to know that the people who make their shoes are treated with respect. That’s why people around the country are taking part in this urgent day of action. Over 10,000 people have signed our petition so far, and we want to give more people the opportunity to make their voice heard.”

A parallel petition calling on other leading fashion brands to be more transparent has been signed by over 70,000 people. “There is now a growing and unstoppable movement for transparency in the fashion industry”, says Round, “People across the world are waking up to the links between the shoes and clothes they buy and exploitation of workers by well-known brands.”

As a result of increased campaigning in recent years, many big fashion brands have now started publishing information about their suppliers. Shoe and leather brands are lagging behind, but some steps are being taken. UK brand Clarks has recently committed to publishing supplier information, an important step forward for workers’ rights.

Change Your Shoes interviewed workers from a factory in Indonesia, owned by the Danish shoe brand ECCO. “We were pleased to find examples of good working conditions at this factory,” says Round. “Wages are on living wage levels, contracts are permanent, and workers are able to join a union. Sadly this is not the case for many of the workers who make our shoes. But examples like this prove that brands can be responsible. We will continue to work with all brands to improve supply chain transparency and working conditions. And we call on all brands to make urgent changes to stop workers risking their lives for poverty wages every day.”

Event: Who stitches your shoes? Join us for a panel discussion in Manchester on 12 May

Event: Who stitches your shoes? Join us for a panel discussion in Manchester on 12 May

Please join us for a panel discussion on Friday 12 May in Manchester: Who stitches your shoes? Indian leather workers and supply chain transparency.

We are delighted to welcome our guest speakers including Gopinath Parakuni, General Secretary of the Bangalore workers’ rights organisation Cividep, who will talk about the challenges for shoe and garment workers and what needs to be done.

Date: Friday 12 May 2017
Time: 14.00 – 16.00
Venue: Bridge 5 Mill, 22A Beswick St, Manchester M4 7HR

India is a major exporter of clothes and shoes – particularly leather – for the UK fashion industry. The workers producing these exports face major risks due to the chemicals used, and working conditions fall well short of minimum standards. For example, homeworkers stitching leather uppers are paid on piece rates well below minimum wages. UK companies sourcing from India have a responsibility to ensure that workers are paid decent wages, have secure employment and a safe environment. At the same time the Manchester garment industry is growing, as ‘fast fashion’ seeks out manufacturers closer to home. However, many local factories are little more than workshops – employing less than fifty people and with little leverage over the prices and conditions set by big brands.

This is where Manchester and India intersect – how can worker activists bargain with global brands to ensure decent work?

One significant barrier to improving working conditions is a lack of transparency. Many workers do not know whose products they make and brands do not tell us. Transparency in the supply chain would enable workers and civil society organisations to hold companies to account, to effectively seek remedy for violations and work to prevent further abuses of workers’ rights.

This informal roundtable brings together Indian labour activists with local academics and activists to understand the challenges faced by workers in the shoe and garment industry – predominately female – and what action is needed. There will be extensive opportunities for questions and discussion.

Panel speakers:
Gopinath Parakuni, General Secretary of Cividep (workers’ rights organisation in Bangalore)
Hua Wei, Centre for Research on Socio Cultural Change (CRESC)
Dominique Muller, Labour Behind the Label
Lucy Brill, HomeWorkers Worldwide

About Us
* Labour Behind the Label (LBL) is a UK organisation supporting garment and shoe workers to improve their conditions and change the industry for the better. LBL represents the global Clean Clothes Campaign in the UK.
* HomeWorkers Worldwide (HWW) works to support homeworkers and other informal women workers, and their organisations, in their struggle for rights and respect.

For more details contact Dominique Muller (Labour Behind the Label) or Lucy Brill (HomeWorkers Worldwide)

Volunteer at Bestival, Love Saves the Day, Noisily Festival, Boomtown Fair, All Points East, Tokyo World and more!

Volunteer at Bestival, Love Saves the Day, Noisily Festival, Boomtown Fair, All Points East, Tokyo World and more!

The Labour Behind the Label Trust has teamed up with My Cause UK which means you can enjoy a variety of festivals this summer for free in return for volunteering your time for My Cause UK. When you choose to support the Labour Behind the Label Trust we then receive a donation. Everyone’s a winner!

What’s involved?

My Cause volunteers take on a variety of roles depending on the needs of the festival, including stewarding stages campsites and car parks, staffing gates, checking tickets and wrist banding, as well as bar staff, programme sales, and almost everything in between!

Depending on which event you volunteer at the role will be different. Take a look here at what’s involved at each festival. There is also a deposit attached to each event, but don’t worry, this will be returned to you after you have worked at the event.

How do I sign up?

To sign up you need to head over to the My Cause UK website and apply for the particular festival you would like to volunteer at. During the application process you will need to choose LBL to support and it will ask for our charity name and number:

Charity Name: Labour Behind the Label Trust

Charity Number: 1159356

Please let us know once you have signed up!

Any questions?

Get in touch! Email info@labourbehindthelabel.org or call 0117 941 5844.