Ask the question - who is making my clothes?
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?
- For the past six 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. Download the the guide or obtain the full report.
- Oxfam released a report, Still In The Dark – Lifting the Cloak on the Global Garment Trade in April 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.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.
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.
As a class you can:
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.
Sign a petition for better conditions
- Join OXFAM’s campaign to improve the conditions of garment factory workers in Bangladesh and in other countries. Sign the petition now to end sweatshops: https://www.oxfam.org.au/what-we-do/workers-rights-2/are-your-clothes-made-in-sweatshops/
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.
- Fashion Revolution Week happens every year in the week surrounding the 24th of April, the anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse. This week provides an opportunity to 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. Find out more at https://www.fashionrevolution.org/
- Join Fashion Revolution Week and demand more brands show who made our clothes.
- Find out where your school or work uniform is made.
Share the story
- Tell five other people what you have learned.
Ask them to join one of the actions listed above.
- As a school consider incorporating human trafficking as a topic into your curriculum using ACRATH’s education resources at: https://acrath.org.au/resources/teaching-kit/
Follow the example of St Monica’s College
Students from St Monica’s College (Epping, Victoria) social justice group. Be More, searched far and wide to find out what ethically produced goods are available. They then turned their finds into a kit and made a short film.
The kit of goodies includes: chocolate, coffee, tea, soft drink, drink bottle, backpack, headphones, iPhone cover, sneakers, tee-shirt, toilet paper, soccer ball, sunglasses, cap, tissue, wallet, toothbrush, underpants and more. The kit and film about ethically produced goods, was developed with support from Fair Trade Associatin of Australia and New Zealand’s Fairtrade Innovation Fund, and is now a travelling road show that has gone to many schools that also want to show what’s possible.
If your school would like to host St Monica’s roadshow, contact St Monica’s College at email@example.com or 03 9409 8800.
See St Monica’s film at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4psqi-dn2I&t=5s