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Action for Clothing with Dignity

SEAD is pleased to announce that they have joined forces with Clean Clothes Campaign and Labour behind the Label in order to tackle issues concerning international workers rights. The first campaign in this partnership is to raise awareness of the Bangladesh Safety accord in the clothing industry.

Bangladeshi garment industry drives the country’s economy and with 20 $ billion a year it is the second largest garment industry in the world right after China. Moreover, it offers immense job opportunity to poverty-stricken citizens with around 3.6 million workers working in this industry. [1]

However, garment workers are paid less than a minimum living wage what is at least USD 104 whereas their wage is often mere USD 38.[2] Overall, worker’s wages are 1.5% of the price of a garment.[3] Not only are the workers insufficiently paid; also they are often required to work overtime and in factories in poor fire and building security conditions. The consequences of this negligence are fatal:

  • Between 2006 to 2009 414 garment workers were killed in 213 factory fires across Bangladesh[4]
  • More than hundred workers killed in fire in Tazreen factory November 2012
  • Over thousand killed when Rana Plaza building collapsed in April this year.

Tazreen

On 24 November 2012 at least 112 workers were killed when the factory they worked in Tazreen Fashions, caught fire. Workers were trapped inside a building with barred windows and no fire escapes. They were forced to stay at their machines even after the alarms went off. Most of the injuries sustained that day were as a result of workers jumping from sixth floor windows. It had been the larges tragedy the Bangladeshi garment industry experienced, until April 2013.[5]

Rana Plaza

On April 24 2013 the Rana Plaza building in Dhaka came crashing down claiming 1132 lives. Cracks had appeared in the wall of the building the day before, nevertheless, workers were forced to return to work under threats of not receiving their wage for whole month.[6] AerialViewFactory

Not only have to families put up with the loss of their loved ones, they also have to face financial hardship caused by loss of income when many families still have not received full and fair compensation. Families of injured workers do not have enough money for their treatment, or  even to feed them when they are not able to work anymore. In many cases, younger siblings or children of a killed or injured worker have to leave school and start to work to feed their   families.

 

Time for change

What is therefore immediately needed is that Bangladeshi government, factory owners, and European and North American brands and retailers take responsibility and push for full and fair compensation process for families. It is also absolutely essential that they work together in order to solve the worker’s rights problem at systematic level.

A beginning of this process started just few weeks after Rana Plaza tragedy in May 2013, when more than 35 brands and retailers entered into a unique binding agreement with Bangladeshi and global trade unions to form the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh with NGOs as witness signatories and the International Labour Organization as an independent chair.[7] As of October 2013, more than 100 retailers and brands have signed this Accord[8] covering around 1600 Bangladeshi factories what accounts for about 1/3 of the Bangladeshi garment industry. [9]

However, still 16 lives have been lost in building fires since April[10] and large number of retailers that have been sourcing from these factories still refuse to sign the Accord or hesitate to implement policies and compensation processes that are more than needed.

According to Labour behind the Label report, brands and retailers sourcing from Bangladesh, the Bangladeshi government and the textile industry also need to take urgent steps towards:

  • Paying a living wage to all workers, ensuring wages are paid in a timely manner and that all workers are provided with pay slips and letters of employment.
  • Engaging with trade unions to ensure that all workers are able to exercise their rights to freedom of association and their right to refuse dangerous work
  • Ensure that all workers are trained in workplace safety and are able to raise any concerns regarding safety without fear of retribution.[11]

If we are to avoid another colossal tragedy, all must play their part in making the changes needed to turn the Bangladesh garment industry into the sustainable, just and safe industry that these four million workers deserve.[12]


[1] Al Jazeera English: Inside story: Bangladesh sanctions for safety,  [2] Still Waiting report[3] See 1., [4] Fatal Fashion report[5] See 2., [6] See 2., [7] See 2., [8] Industraill Union: Bangladesh safety accord milestone[9] CBC: Bangladesh safety accord covers [10] See 2., [11] See 2., [12] See 2.

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Edinburgh Woollen Mill

EWM that is well known for its brands like Pringle, The Cashmere shop, Hector Russell. Most tourists that come to Scotland will have no doubt have bought a EWM product at some time and they pride themselves with labels like ‘Designed in Scotland. But infact, there is undeniable evidence that Edinburgh Woollen Mill was using the Tazreen factory to manufacture its products. Clothing with EWM labels were found after the fire and many survivors have given testimonies stating that they were producing items for the company. Despite this mounting evidence, Edinburgh Woollen Mill continues to deny responsibility to the victims and even its presence at the factory. EWM also own UK ships like Peacocks and Jean Norman.

Although EWM signed the the  Fire and Building Safety Accord on the 19th  November they have still provided absolutely no compensation to victims or their families.

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Come and join us on the 23rd November

Labour Behind the Label and SEAD demand that Edinburgh Woollen Mill commit to providing compensation to survivors and victims’ families of the Tazreen Fashons factory. It is now one year later and the bereaved families and injured workers are struggling to survive. Many have been unable to get the medical attention they need to recover from their injuries. EWM have yet to pay a penny in compensation to these workers.

At 2pm, 23 November on the eve of the one year anniversary of the Tazreen disaster, SEAD will be  out side one of the EWM stores to remind EWM of their responsibility to the victims and to demand a response.

If you are unable to participate in this action, you can still take part by organising an action at your local EWM or Peacocks store, or by delivering your own letter to Edinburgh Woollen Mill and asking your friends to do the same.

If you are interested in being involved, please contact SEAD by email for details.

 

E Action

It is now one year since the fire at Tazreen fashions in Bangladesh where 122 workers were killed, and none of the families affected by the fire have received full and fair compensation. Photos taken and documents retrieved from the burned out ruins showed Tazreen had been producing sweaters for the UK brand Edinburgh Woollen Mill.

EWM continue to deny responsibility and have yet to pay a penny to the families of the dead or to those workers injured in the tragedy. One year is long enough. Tell EWM to commit to paying compensation to Tazreen workers now!

TAKE ACTION NOWSend an email to Steve Simpson, the Commercial Director for Edinburgh Woollen Mill to call on him to take responsibility for Tazreen workers!

 

 

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