In the aftermath of another garment factory disaster, Fair Trade pioneers call on mainstream fashion brands to adopt best practice standards
Yesterday, an eight-storey building, housing garment factories and shops, collapsed in Dhaka, killing over 200 and injuring over 1600. Fair Trade pioneers meeting in London today called upon all fashion brands sourcing in Bangladesh to improve health and safety and labour standards within the workplace.
Fair Trade Pioneers are calling upon brands who source, or have sourced from these factories to fund immediate compensation for injuries and for loss of earnings, and for families who have lost their loved ones and their breadwinners. We also call on all brands sourcing in Bangladesh to sign and enforce the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement.
It is estimated that an additional 7p per garment over 5 years could pay for all necessary renovations to garment factories in Bangladesh. Can consumers really not pay this little extra to ensure the safety of the people who make their clothes?
Most Bangladeshi garment workers earn the minimum wage which is amongst the lowest in the world and would only cover just over half the monthly cost of living in a slum.
Fair Trade creates opportunities for hundreds of people in Bangladesh in the rural areas, to hand weave, hand embroider and tailor garments through Fair Trade at fair wages, and for hundreds more in other countries. Consumers can ask brands to take responsibility and meet the real human cost of producing fashion. Consumers can choose fashion which empowers rather than exploits. We need to find a solution to the downward spiral of low prices that force factory owners and workers alike to take ridiculous risks with their safety and health day after day.
Safia Minney, MBE Founder and CEO of People Tree – UK & Japan
“‘In 18 years of working with the Bangladeshi trade unions and visiting garment workers in their homes, I regularly hear them ask “Do the people in your country really want us to work this hard for so little money? Do they understand how hungry and desperate our living situation is?” Two million workers, mostly young women, generate 80% of the country’s exports – but they earn a minimum wage of just £25 per month. The trade unions have been asking for a multi stake holder approach for years. This is exactly what Fair Trade does. The garment industry has a lot to learn from the Fair Trade movement. ”
Carry Somers, Founder and Managing Director at Pachacuti – Ashbourne – UK
“This tragedy starkly highlights the difference in labour standards between fast, cheap fashion and Fair Trade fashion. Disposable fashion should not equate to disposable lives and brands have a responsibility to ensure safer working conditions. Pachacuti received a comprehensive Fair Trade audit yesterday and monitoring of our producers working conditions was pronounced ‘excellent’ by the auditor. If Pachacuti, as a micro business, can carry out comprehensive monitoring of all suppliers, why can’t larger fashion brands?”
Christine Gent, Director at Fairly Covered - Brighton – UK
“If you subscribe to Fair Trade then being transparent about your supply chain, engaging with the people who make the goods to ensure that basic requirements are met is not up for negotiation. Fair Trade for us is about making socially and environmentally sustainable bedding not just making money! Fairly Covered imports Fair Trade sustainable bedding from Bangladesh, hand woven in rural situations creating and maintaining jobs outside Dhaka.”
Members of the World Fair Trade Organisation go beyond minimum compliance criteria and actively involve producers and employees in all decision making and works to improve working conditions within producer groups. Pachacuti carries out eco-mapping of each one of our producer premises to identify environmental and health & safety issues in our producers’ production processes and premises, examining use of water, storage of chemicals, health of workers, machinery & emissions, use of energy, risk of accident and contamination.
WFTO is a global community of pioneering and passionate change-makers, responsible for the development of the sustainable Fair Trade economy. WFTO’s 450 members are organisations differentiated by their 100% Fair Trade commitment to eradicate poverty through sustainable economic development. WFTO has a vision of a world in which trade structures and practices have been transformed to work in favour of the poor and promote sustainable development and justice.