According to the UK’s Daily Mail, a “This Is What A Feminist Looks Like” T-shirt worn by politicians and celebrities like Benedict Cumberbatch (posing in the shirt, above) was made by women in Mauritian sweatshops working 45 hour work weeks at 99 cents an hour, and sleeping in rooms with 15 other women. The shirts retail for $85, with all the proceeds going to the Fawcett Society, a UK women’s rights organization. Keep reading »
Back in April, hundreds of workers died after a building collapse at the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh. In the wake of this tragedy, the Bangladesh Safety Accord was created, with the aim of ensuring safety for clothing manufacturer employers. It’s overseen by the United Nation’s International Labor Organization, and signees to the accord agree to regular factory inspections and improved safety measures and standards at factories that produce their garments.
But guess who’s not down to protect the lives of their factory workers? TopShop, that’s who. Since April, more than 80 companies have signed the accord, including H&M, Mango and even Abercrombie & Fitch. (You can check out the full list here.) TopShop agreed to sign in May, but has yet to actually take pen to paper — even after they were urged by the British government to do so in June. Keep reading »
On April 24, a garment factory in Bangladesh collapsed, killing more than 1,000 people. On Thursday, 17 days after the five-story building fell to the ground, a final survivor was discovered. Reshma Begum, a seamstress at Rana Plaza, was pulled from the rubble, after rescue crews heard her banging on a pipe. “I heard the sound and rushed towards the spot. I knelt down and heard a faint voice. Sir, please help me, she cried,” said Abdur Razzaq, an army sergeant who was involved in the rescue.
Workers furiously worked to remove debris from the area, and 40 minutes after Razza first heard Begum’s voice, she’d been freed. Dehydrated and missing clumps of hair, but otherwise in good health, Begum said she’d survived by scavenging for food in the rucksacks of dead colleagues. What were the conditions like for Begum? On a typical April day in Bangladesh the weather is around 95 degrees, with 80 percent humidity. Keep reading »
Alexander Wang is not a happy man. The young designer was accused by former employee Wenyu Lu of running a sweatshop. Lu, in a $50 million lawsuit against the designer, claims that he was forced to work 84-hour work weeks sewing Wang’s clothes. And, Lu alleges, he once passed out after working for 25 hours straight. Now the case is advancing forward, and will be refiled on the federal level.
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In a workers’ rights victory, a factory manufacturing Nike products in Indonesia has been ordered to pay its workers more than $1 million in back wages for unpaid overtime. The 4,500 workers of the PT Nikomas plant in Bantan, Indonesia, will be compensated for more than 600,000 hours of unpaid overtime over the last two years (though some of the workers say they haven’t received overtime in 18 years, Indonesian law only allows claims to go back two years). The settlement could spell big changes in the way that sweatshop laborers are treated — and paid.
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Several brands associated with the Kardashian Klan are being investigated for ties with sweatshop labor. According to Charles Kernaghan, the executive director of the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights, “The Kardashians are in bed with some pretty bad people,” who are keeping workers “abused and virtually imprisoned.” Keep reading »