Monday 18 July 2016

Garment Workers Fight Back!

We all know about worker exploitation in developing markets like China. Or at least, we think we do. What if there was an opportunity to get the real story from the people on the factory floor who make the clothes for some of the biggest brands in the world?

Next week, we have that chance. War On Want is running a tour of speakers across the UK, in which workers and activists in the garment trade tell their stories, and celebrate their victories.

China does not allow independent trade unions or conform to international regulations that protect worker rights. Strikes and protests by workers struggling for their rights are routinely crushed by the government. But against all odds, workers are fighting back.

Groups like Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM) and Worker Empowerment have made extraordinary leaps forward in exposing the free ride enjoyed by fashion brands, building a movement of workers aware of their rights on the factory floors of China.

For example, SACOM's undercover investigations of fashion giant UNIQLO exposed the grim working conditions facing workers, and demonstrated that what the brand had said about how they treated their workers was a lie. Within months of their report's publication, they had forced UNIQLO to take corrective action in investigated factories which helped thousands of workers to attain fairer working conditions.

The all-woman panel of speakers, which includes representatives from SACOM and Worker Empowerment, are calling for supply chain transparency and urge international solidarity in pushing brands to make their factory suppliers public. With high street names like UNIQLO hiding their supply chain, it is nearly impossible for local groups in garment producing countries to expose working conditions. Yet, against the odds, the stories are starting to come out.

The tour stops in London, Glasgow, Newcastle and Manchester, and is a must if you want to find out more about the burgeoning worker's rights movement in the Chinese garment industry. Tickets are free.

Find out more at the War On Want site:


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