Who is making my clothes?

Posted in October 3rd, 2016
by Jacinta Lithgow
Comments Off on Who is making my clothes?

16days-clothing-acrathWho is making my clothes?
Ask the question.who is making my clothes?

We invite students and teachers to join ACRATH and the global community for 16 days of activism against gender-based violence.

Chances are that children and adults working in sweatshops, for little money and often in appalling and hazardous conditions, make some of the clothes you wear, or clothes you might want to buy this summer.

Remember the terrible tragedy at the Rana Plaza in 2013 in Dhaka, Bangladesh, when an eight-story building collapsed, killing 1136 people and injuring 2500. Most of the dead and injured were poorly paid female garment makers, producing many of the clothes that end up in Australia.

Since then some of the big brand companies have worked to ensure conditions have improved. Others have not.

Once you know how your favourite brand of clothes is made,
you can never again say, “I didn’t know”.

Ask the question – how does my favourite clothing brand company treat workers?ethical-fashion-guide

  • For the past three years Baptist World Aid has produced, The Truth Behind The Barcode Australian Fashion Report. It’s a report card on the fashion industry and it rates your favourite brands when it comes to their workers’ safety, wages and other conditions. For example, Zara (Inditex) is doing well, but Seed Heritage and Boohoo get an F on all counts. Download the report in full or view it online here
  • Oxfam released a report, Still In The Dark – Lifting the Cloak on the Global Garment Trade in April this year (2016).  The report reveals almost 60% of Australia’s major brands are cloaked in secrecy. Oxfam has investigated 12 of Australia’s major fashion retailers. Of these, Oxfam found only five have taken strong action to ensure the transparency of their supply chains.oxfam-report-labour-rights-still-in-the-dark

    Read the report card and find out if your favourite clothing brand is transparent about the supply chain
    that brings clothes from the factory floor
    to our stores here in Australia.
    download here 

What can I do to encourage my favourite clothing brand to look after its workers, many working more than 12 hour days for very poor wages and little hope of an education?

Now you know a bit more about how your clothes are produced and who is doing what.
You know who is trying to make life better for garment workers and who is not.

ACRATH 16 days campaign 2016

As a class you can:

Demand Changes

Look at what is happening in the industry. The Truth Behind the Barcode looks at which companies are paying, or working towards paying their workers a ‘living wage’. The report (Page 10) states that a ‘A living wage is a wage that is sufficient for workers to be able to afford the basics (food, water, shelter, clothing, power, healthcare and education) for themselves and their dependents, while having a little left over for emergency savings or discretionary spending’. Receiving a living wage could change the lives of young people who are trapped in poverty.

Send a postcard 

  • Seed Heritage, an Australian fashion brand, has consistently ignored The Truth Behind The Barcodes’ efforts to engage with it on issues of forced labour and exploitation.  Call on Seed Heritage to be more transparent about conditions for its workers. Order postcards today that you can send to the boss of Seed. Order at: http://www.behindthebarcode.org.au

Sign a petition for better conditions 

  • Join OXFAM’s campaign to improve the conditions of garment factory workers in Bangladesh.  Simply join an online petition, which calls on The Just Group (Just Jeans, Jay Jays) and Best and Less to:
    •  Immediately sign on to the Bangladesh Fire and Safety Accord;
    • Publish the names and addresses of all supplier factories (Nike, adidas, Puma, Timberland and Levis are already doing this);
    • Ensure that all workers making your products receive a living wage; Ensure all workers making your products are free to join a union and collectively bargain in the workplace.
      The petition is at: https://act.oxfam.org/australia/bangladesh-garment-workers-petition

Join the #whomademyclothes fashion revolution

  • The Rana Plaza tragedy also triggered a fashion revolution around the world and you can join it today. Young people are using social media to demand #whomademyclothes.
  • In April 24-30 2017, Fashion Revolution Week (http://fashionrevolution.org) will unite people from all over the world to use the power of fashion to improve conditions for the people who make the world’s clothes and accessories.
  • In 2016, in more than 92 countries around the world, tens of thousands of people took part in Fashion Revolution Week.
  • Join Fashion Revolution Week 2017 and demand more brands show who made our clothes.
  • Find out where your school uniform is made.

Share the story16days-acrath buttons

  • Tell five other people what you have learned.
    Ask them to join one of the actions listed above.

Learn more

Snapshot of OXFAM’s 2016 Still in the Dark report

  • More than 89% of people surveyed by OXFAM said they were willing to pay a little more for clothes to ensure garment workers had safe and decent working conditions.
  • 12 Australian companies have signed onto the Bangladesh Fire and Safety Accord. This has enabled safety inspections of more than 1,600 garment factories in Bangladesh.
  • Only five of 12 major Australian clothing companies have published the locations of their Bangladeshi clothing suppliers. Making this information publicly available is vital to ensuring claims about worker safety and other conditions can be independently verified.
  • Of 1000 Australians surveyed by OXFAM, 87% agreed that all companies should publish the names and locations of their overseas supplier factories.