Tag Archives: Labour

LEARN // Leadership, Feminism and Equality in Unions in Canada


With International Women’s Day around the corner, I just had to share this excellent resource with you: Leadership, Feminism and Equality in Unions in Canada, a project organised by Linda Briskin, Sue Genge, Marg McPhail and Marion Pollack.

From the project website:

“This project on Leadership, Feminism and Equality in Unions in Canada explores the current climate and attitudes to women, feminism, leadership and equality in Canadian unions through the insights, voices and experiences of women union leaders, activists and staff in Canadian unions.

Undoubtedly unions in Canada have played a significant role in promoting women’s equality. And many share the optimistic belief that organized labour can continue to play a critical part in challenging women’s inequality. Yet evidence suggests that equality issues have still not moved into the mainstream of union culture. Some even point to a backlash, suggested by the decline in women’s participation in leadership, fewer resources for equality organizing, and in some cases, outright attacks on advocates. These are disturbing trends.

Union women fought hard for equity gains over the past five decades.  In the current climate of recession, cutbacks, and austerity, are we now losing ground?”


There are links to loads of resources, including this important short film, originally produced in 1981 by Linda Briskin and Lorna Weir – a wonderful historical resource for teaching.

While the project relates specifically to the labour rights movement in Canada, it is completely relevant to union and labour organising globally.

Image source: Leadership, Feminism and Equality in Unions in Canada

WATCH // Udita (Arise): a film on garment making in Bangladesh


Udita Poster


On April 24th 2013, the Rana Plaza building collapsed in Bangladesh. Over 1,130 workers were killed and thousands more were left injured. These workers were producing garments for consumers in Europe and North America.

We have now marked the two year anniversary of the collapse, yet the ILO trust fund established to support victims and their families remains nearly 3 million dollars short.

Rana Plaza was not the first industrial accident of its kind in Bangladesh, and building (and fire) safety is not the only challenge faced by garment workers.

Udita, the latest documentary from The Rainbow Collective, brings together footage capturing garment work in Bangladesh, collected over a five year period.

The Rainbow Collective premiered the film in East London at the Unite The Union Community Centre to a packed house on 24 April, marking the 2nd anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse.

Udita Trailer (full documentary below):


Udita asks its audience to listen to the testimonies of workers and organisers. No simple solution is presented. No judgements are passed. Viewers are left to draw their own connections.

Thanks to The Rainbow Collective for making Udita free and accessible.

Please watch and share through your networks.

Udita (full documentary):

Note: This blog post was also published on Routes blog, with permission. 

LEARN // The WellMade Project

WellMade - Facebook banner image


A three year project that began in 2013, WellMade provides free online resources designed to help brands better support labour rights in their supply chains.

The Fair Wear Foundation (FWF) is lead partner on the initiative, working collaboratively with other partners and associates.


There are currently four specific case studies to assist brands:

(1) “You know those pants we ordered? We need them in a different color!”

(2) “I’m visiting a factory but I’m not a CSR specialist. What can I do to help?”

(3) “We have found labour problems in one of our factories. What should we do?”

(4) “Subcontracting: How can this small group of workers produce so many t-shirts?”

If you’re in Paris, you can catch the project for a free workshop tomorrow (10 Feb) at Texworld.

Follow WellMade on Facebook and Twitter for updates on resources, as well as future workshops and events.

Garment worker wages: select reports on trends and analysis from 2014

ILO 201415 Global Wage Report


The International Labour Organization (ILO) has just released their 2014/2015 Global Wage Report. While the report is not specifically focused on garment worker wages in fashion and apparel systems, it does overview global trends and highlights wage gaps, and I think it’s a good one to read through and bookmark to keep on hand.

With the report, the ILO has included a couple of short video clips explaining key terms, such as real wage and labour productivity, average wage and PPP$.

ILO videos re 201415 Wage Report

The Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) published three reports in 2014 relating to wages for garment work in the fashion and apparel sector:

Living wage in asiaStitched up 2014

Tailored Wages 2014

And of course, this worthwhile read from the CCC and the Asia Floor Wage in 2009 remains highly relevant: Stitching a Decent Wage Across Borders.

Stitching a decent wage across borders










Click here for the full list of CCC publications.

What resources have you turned to in 2014 for trends and analysis relating to garment worker wages? Share in the comments below, or let us know via Facebook and/or Twitter.


Fair Wear Foundation awarded UN grant to support garment workers in India and Bangladesh

The Fair Wear Foundation (FWF) has been awarded a grant by the United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence against Women (UN Trust Fund).

Working in India and Bangladesh, the three year grant will be used by FWF and four partner organizations (SAVE and Cividep, in India, and the AMRF Society and Awaj Foundation in Bangladesh) “to implement innovative new strategies to reduce workplace violence against women in the garment industry.” (FWF)

The benefits to women of a workplace without violence are clear and immediate, and an issue of respect for fundamental human rights. (Erica Van Doorn, Director of Fair Wear Foundation)

According to the Fair Wear Foundation, “[r]ecent research estimates that 60% of women in the garment industry have experienced some form of harassment, verbal abuse or physical abuse. Indiaand Bangladeshboth have legal frameworks to prevent and address workplace violence, however full implementation of these laws in the garment industry has been hampered by several factors, including the complexity of apparel supply chains.” (FWF)

To learn more about the FWF, check out their newly released 2010 annual report.

Oxfam International // Supporting garment workers through education and engagement

You know Oxfam as a leader in global humanitarian efforts—working toward poverty reduction, advocating and campaigning on behalf of human rights, leading the fight against unregulated international arms trade (all the way to the UN, with Arms Trade Treaty negotiations expected to close in 2012), promoting gender equality, health and education, responding to both chronic and acute social, environmental and economic crisis…the list goes on.

What you may not know is that Oxfam is also committed to supporting systemic change with respect to the labour rights of garment workers internationally through education and engagement.

Here are some of the exciting projects they’ve been working on—all excellent for use in the classroom:

While her name has been changed to protect her family and to ensure her job security (‘Sewani’ is an abbreviated word for ‘seorang wanita’ in Indonesian, meaning ‘woman’), her story is real: “I hope that by sharing this story people can have some image of the workers that are making their shoes. Some image of who we are and what our lives are like. I’m sure our conditions are really different with those who can afford to buy the shoes we make. Who knows, when they understand our conditions, they might speak out for us. We also want to live in better conditions.” (Sewani) Readers can send Sewani questions and leave comments on the blog.

By answering these FAQ’s, Oxfam has empowered educators, consumers, designers and proprietors alike to think critically about their role in the global apparel supply chain.

  • Oxfam Australia has run several successful campaigns in support of decent work, driving change through an online actions centre dedicated to worker’s rights.

Workshop //Sweatshops – 70 minutes

Lesson Plans:

No Sweat – Grade 9 Lesson Plan

No Sweat – Grade 10 Lesson Plan

No Sweat – OAC Geography Lesson Plan

No Sweat – OAC Poli Sci Lesson Plan

Oxfam GB has created a 25 minute assembly designed to educate students on the hidden narrative of labour taking place behind the brand, factory conditions and worker’s rights, cause and consequence of cheap labour and ways to take action. Materials include Assembly Slides, (in PowerPoint) and Supporting Notes (PDF).

Oxfam GB has also created a series of lessons that follow the cotton supply chain in India:

Background information about cotton, trade and India

Photo gallery of clothes production

Lesson 1: Placing India in the world

Lesson 2: Finding out about India

Lesson 3: Where does cotton grow?

Lesson 4: Tracking trade

Lesson 5: Questioning a photo

Lesson 6: Before and after

Lesson 7: Matching captions to photos

Lesson 8: Putting photos in sequence

Lesson 9: Oral presentation

Lesson 10: Ways of working

Lesson 11: Print making

Lesson 12: Fair Trade

Extra material to support your teaching

Moving beyond the classroom, Oxfam GB has partnered with Marks & Spencer to keep clothing out of landfills: “[s]ince 2009, they have diverted over 5 million tonnes of clothing from landfill, and raised £3 million for Oxfam.” (Trewin Restorick, for the Guardian Professional Network)

So, Oxfam is not only a leader in global humanitarian relief, but also in responsible knowledge sharing and cross-sector collaboration with respect to responsible apparel.

READ// the Fair Wear formula

The Fair Wear Foundation (FWF) has launched a new publication, the Fair Wear formula.

The design by Ruben @ Buro RuSt combines with the more than readable texts by Anne Lally combine to create an innovative, attractive description of the FWF approach to improving labour conditions in garment supply chains. In hardback or paperback.” (FWF)

Image: FWF’s focus (image from the Fair Wear formula, (c) Buro RuSt


If you aren’t already familiar with the Fair Wear Foundation, an international verification initiative dedicated to enhancing workers’ lives, take a minute to check out their guiding principles:

Supply chain responsibility = realising that the Code can only be fulfilled when sourcing companies, as well as factory management, actively pursue practices that support good working conditions.
Labour standards derived from ILO Conventions and the UN’s Declaration on Human Rights = basing FWF’s Code on internationally-recognised standards which have been set through tri-partite negotiation.
Multi-stakeholder verification = verification processes developed through multi-stakeholder negotiation, and involving experts from diverse disciplines and perspectives in FWF verification teams.
A process-approach to implementation = paying special attention to the means (i.e. building functioning industrial relations systems over time) in order to achieve the end (i.e. sustainable workplace improvements).
Involvement of stakeholders in production countries = engaging local partners in shaping FWF’s approach in a given region or country.
Transparency = keeping relevant stakeholders informed of FWF policies, activities, and results; publicly reporting on member company efforts to fulfil FWF requirements.


For more information on this publication, and others, contact info@fairwear.nl

Winners Announced! Fashioning the Future

Miriam Rhida

Miriam Rhida

I’ve got some exciting news to share with you! On November 25th I won the “Systems for a Sustainable Future Award” in the Fashioning the Future international student competition. This competition is run through the Centre for Sustainable Fashion at London College of Fashion. There were 5 winners in total, each representing five separate categories, with forty finalists over all. I’m excited to have had the opportunity to showcase and share my graduate research, and this website.


Emma Rigby

Emma Rigby

Zoe Fletcher won the Enterprise & Communication Initiative for a Future Fashion Industry Award (Highly Commended: Ruby Hoette and Julia Crew)

Varun Gambhir won the Role of Materials in a Sustainable Fashion Industry Award (Highly Commended: Karina Micheal)

Mary Hanlon won the Systems for a Sustainable Fashion Industry Award

Miriam Rhida won the Design for a Thriving Fashion Industry Award (Highly Commended: Eleanor Dorrien-Smith and On Ying Lai)

Emma Rigby won the Water – The Right for All Citizens of this Planet Award (Highly Commended: Anne Prahl).



International competitions such as the Fashioning the Future awards offer students the chance not only to showcase their work, but to benchmark themselves against other students in their field at the international level.

Please visit the Centre for Sustainable Fashion to check out the details of the competition, and the full list of finalists! For more images, check out this photo gallery from The Guardian.

On Ying

On Ying

Also, if you are in London, be sure to stop by London’s City Hall and London College of Fashion to check out the highlights from the 2009 awards. Here are the details:

FASHIONING THE FUTURE AT CITY HALL, 19 November – 4 December 2009
Highlights of the 2009 awards to be showcased at London’s City Hall, with thanks to the London Sustainable Development Commission.
Open to the public, free of charge.
Greater London Authority, City Hall, The Queen’s Walk, London SE1 2AA

Highlights of the 2009 awards to be showcased at London College of Fashion.
Open to the public, free of charge.
London College of Fashion, 20 John Princes Street, London W1G 0BJ

 Congratulations everyone! And thank you for your support!


Images via The Guardian