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Call out: Could you become a Trustee?

Call out: Could you become a Trustee?

 CALL OUT: 
 Could you become
 a trustee?  

Applications now open for new trustee recruitment 2022

We are recruiting trustees

The Labour Behind the Label Trust are currently welcoming applications for new trustees. We are open to applications from anyone with a passion for changing the fashion industry for the better. You could be a trade unionist, a person from the media or the world of fashion, or be a current or ex-garment worker. People from all backgrounds are welcome to apply.

We are particularly interested in applications from those with experience working with funding groups, major donor fundraising and agencies, and those who can help us to develop stronger community links in Leicester, home to the largest garment-producing hub in the UK.

Find out more by downloading the person spec,  and send your submission in before 20th December 2022. 

About you

 

We are striving for LBL to be more representative of the garment workers we serve, most of whom are people of colour from the global South. This means we particularly welcome applications from people with lived experiences of racism and/or migration.

There are several additional communities under-represented among LBL trustees at present, including but not limited to, trans and non-binary people and those with disabilities. As a course of positive action to improve representation in our team, we actively encourage applications from these under-represented groups.

 

 

Solidarity with Sri Lanka unions fighting repression

Solidarity with Sri Lanka unions fighting repression

Solidarity with Sri lankaN unions fighting repression

 

LBL has joined partners to issue a statement of solidarity for trade unions in Sri Lanka who are fighting repression

In recent months, the Sri Lankan government increased its repression amidst an economic and political crisis, sending in the army on workers protesting peacefully. Today our partners Free Trade Zones & General Services Employees Union together with the National Labour Advisory Council Trade union Collective are holding a members rally at the Public Library in Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo. CCC, Labour Behind The Label, Maquila Solidarity Network, Workers United and War on Want support the unions, who condemn the government’s disregard for the voice of trade unions and demand the Labour Ministry calls for an immediate meeting of the National Labour Advisory Council.

Call out: We are looking for a designer to work on our LGBTQI zine

Call out: We are looking for a designer to work on our LGBTQI zine

CALL OUT:
WE ARE LOOKING FOR A DESIGNER FOR OUR LGBTQI ZINE  

Could you be the designer we are looking for? 

In recent years, fashion brands have tapped into the pink pound, releasing Pride collections and capitalising on LGBTQI+ rights to sell fast-fashion. However, the workers in their supply chain, including LGBTQI+ workers, are paid poverty wages and have poor labour rights protections.

We have been working on an exciting project with LGBTQI+ groups in Cambodia and Indonesia to collect stories of LGBTQI+ workers, so that we can share the stories of workers lives, both inside and outside of the factories. 

We are looking for an enthusiastic designer, who shares our passion for this project, to present the stories in a zine format. 

Find out more by downloading the brief,  and send your submission in before Monday 28th November. 

About you:

We particularly encourage expressions of interest from PoC and/ or LGBTQI+ designers for this project, who ideally have experience of working on issues of labour, racial or LGBTQI+ justice.

For an informal conversation about the project, please email meg@labourbehindthelabel.org

Pakistan: Union busting at International Textile factory

Pakistan: Union busting at International Textile factory

 Pakistan:
 Union Busting 
 At International 
 Textile Factory 

Workers from a towel and linen supplier in Karachi are fighting for their rights after being dismissed for taking part in union activities

Workers from a towel, linen and apparel supplier in Pakistan are fighting for their jobs after being dismissed for taking part in union activities.

The factory, called International Textile in the Korangi Industrial Area of Karachi, Pakistan produces for international hotel chains including Marriott and Accor, the hotel linen brand Standard Textile, and UK company Marks & Spencer.

In October 2021, 25 workers were illegally dismissed for their participation in union activities and for demanding their legal rights, in clear violation of their freedom of association. These workers had recently participated in union organising at the factory relating to underpayment of wages and benefits. Following a worker-led protest demanding their jobs back, 18 of the workers were reinstated but the 7 workers who were leading union organising in the factory did not get their jobs back. A further worker was dismissed for unionising in January. These 8 workers appear to have been blacklisted by International Textile for their union organising and are unable to find any jobs in other factories.  

All of the fired workers were employed as ‘contractors’ through the labour agent (which is illegal), but the factory say that because they weren’t direct employees their reinstatement isn’t the factory’s responsibility.

Widespread labour violations in the factory led to worker unionization efforts. These violations included non-payment of the double rate for overtime, non-payment of double overtime rate for working on gazetted holidays, forced overtime beyond legal limits, pay discrimination against women workers and general underpayment of wages.

The workers have started a court case demanding their rights and jobs back, but this is slow and the workers are stuck without income while the court processes are delayed.

The union, NTUF, is demanding that International Textile respect workers’ rights defined by local and international laws, and ensure that the 8 workers be reinstated with back pay for wages and benefits covering the period since their dismissal. They are further urging International Textile to enter into dialogue with NTUF to address the other documented labour rights violations, and to negotiate the terms of the workers’ return.

We have contacted brands in this case but no resolution has yet been reached.

Spotlight on Pakistan's Labour Contractors

Many workers in Pakistan are employed via labour contractors – recruiters and employers who supply workers to big factory operations. Under the Sindh Factories Act 2015 this set up is illegal, yet the use of contracted labour is commonplace in Pakistan. 

The benefit to suppliers of using labour contractors to provide a percentage of their workforce is that suppliers can keep workers at one step remove and avoid some financial and legal duties towards them as full employees. This includes dismissing workers cheaply when they don’t need full factory capacity, and also dismissing workers who they see as undesirable in their factories, such as those who unionise… 

This illegal yet commonplace tactic has led to low unionisation rates – with precarious work and fewer rights many workers find the risk of organising is too great. This case at International Textile is just one of many where worker organising has been eliminated through what seems to be a mundane contract dispute. The importance of the fight of these workers will have an impact on many. If they win or lose, the union see their case as setting a precedent as to whether suppliers will be allowed in the future to undermine freedom of association through labour contracting methods. 

Adidas: End wage-theft and pay your workers

Adidas: End wage-theft and pay your workers

 adidas: 
 END WAGE-THEFT AND 
 Pay your workers

As Adidas celebrates 73 years as a global sports brand, pressure is mounting for them to address wage-theft in their supply chain. Trade unions, activists and labour rights groups around the world are calling on Adidas to sign a negotiated binding agreement on wages, severance and labour rights. 

Adidas has left the workers in its supply chain without the payments they are owed during the pandemic and in the economic crisis that followed. Adidas claims that all is fine, but the workers in its supply chain beg to differ. In eight adidas supplier factories in Cambodia alone, Adidas owe their workers US$ 11.7 million in wages for just the first 14 months of the pandemic – that’s $387 per worker. Workers no longer making clothes for Adidas are also owed money. Workers of the Hulu Garment factory in Cambodia who were laid off at the beginning of the pandemic are still owed 3.6million USD. In May 2022, 5,600 workers at another Adidas supplier in Cambodia went on strike over unpaid wages – the factory responded by having union leaders arrested. This wage and severance theft stretches far beyond Cambodia across Adidas’ global supply chain. 

It is not that Adidas does not know that it carries responsibility to ensure that workers in its supply chain are paid what they are owed. In 2013, Adidas finally paid the PT Kizone workers in Indonesia who had fought for two years for the 1.8 million USD severance they were owed after losing their jobs.

It is time for Adidas to sign a binding agreement on wages, severance and the freedom to organise to ensure that workers in its supply chain never have to go without their full wages and severance again.

Spotlight on Hulu Garment

Hulu Garment, a sewing facility located in Phnom Penh, Cambodia supplying Adidas, as well as Amazon, Walmart, Macy’s, and LT Apparel Group, suspended its entire workforce of 1,020 workers in March 2020.

As the end of the suspension period neared, management called workers in and told them on 22nd April that, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the factory had no orders and may need to lay off workers.

Management also told workers to “sign” a document with their thumb print in order to receive their pay, explaining: “you have to sign; otherwise, we cannot wire your last wage.”

All Hulu Garment workers signed the document that day, without realizing that buried in the document was a sentence stating they were resigning. Management hid the word “resignation” appearing at the top of each letter by affixing the worker’s most recent payslip to cover it.

This is just one example of wage and severance theft in Adidas’ supply chain. It is time for Adidas to make wage theft a thing of the past, and sign a binding agreement negotiated with unions. 

Emergency relief needed for Sri Lanka’s economic crisis

Emergency relief needed for Sri Lanka’s economic crisis

 emergency relief 
 needed in Sri Lanka’s 
 economic crisis
 

Trade unions and worker rights organizations, including the Clean Clothes Campaign, Labour behind the Label, Maquila Solidarity Network, War on Want and Workers United have written a letter expressing their solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka.

Trade unions and worker rights organizations, including the Clean Clothes Campaign, Labour behind the Label, Maquila Solidarity Network, War on Want and Workers United have written a letter expressing their solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka.

They’re calling on upon national governments, international financial institutions, private sector enterprises (including international brands and retailers sourcing garments from Sri Lanka), and other stakeholders to support a program of emergency relief, mid and long-term financial support, and a democratic political solution to the crisis.

Sri Lanka’s apparel and textile manufacturing industry is the most significant and dynamic contributor to Sri Lanka’s economy. The apparel industry employs about 350,000 workers. Sri Lanka’s 1,000 plus factories supply nearly half of all merchandise exports and contribute 6% of the island nation’s gross domestic product. Sri Lanka is among the top apparel-producing countries in the world relative to its population.

The rising cost of shipping and logistics has been a growth impediment factor in the apparel industry but the current crisis seems to be hurting the business the most. A loss of buyers’ confidence in the industry because of the “political instability” is a real risk. Small-to-medium scale apparel makers are being badly effected by the countries energy crisis and fuel shortages, affecting their ability to transport goods, provide staff transport, or generate power. Anti-Government protests across the country have also impacted workers ability to reach their factories because of lack of transportation.

In a statement released late last month, the Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) warned of “serious negative consequences” if policymakers continue to drag their feet on the sweeping reforms required to put the island nation back on track. The crisis has brought about widespread food, fuel and medicine shortages, sky-rocketing inflation and mass protests calling for the president’s resignation.

Export earnings in Sri Lanka’s clothing sector for the June to August period are set to fall by 20-25%. Sri Lanka’s Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) secretary-general Yohan Lawrence told Just Style in terms of the value, this is “nearly a loss of $125m per month for the next three months.”

In most of the apparel factories, the management is now forced to spend 400 per cent more on fuel and generator costs, compared to the same period last year, which has pushed up overheads. With fewer operating hours, workers are likely to get paid one-third less this month as they don’t work over-time.

Any strategy to stabilise the economy, JAAF secretary-general Yohan Lawrence says, must prioritise support to apparel manufacturers large and small.

Read the solidarity letter from Trade unions and worker rights organizations, including the Clean Clothes Campaign, Labour behind the Label, Maquila Solidarity Network, War on Want and Workers United here

Sri Lanka's economic crisis

The Sri Lankan government has blamed the Covid pandemic, as well as bomb attacks in 2019 for the current economic crisis. However, many experts blame the government’s poor economic management.  

Protests in the country started in the capital, Colombo, in April 2022 and spread across the country. The country is running out of fuel for essential services and people are struggling with daily power cuts and shortages of fuel, food and medicine.