The garment industry in China operates with huge profits – in 2012, it made 43.6 billion pieces of garments with an export value of $153.219 billion. However, conditions and terms of pay for workers are very poor, and they do not have the right to unionise.
TRAID is working with War on Want and local partner SACOM to fund a project to improve the Chinese garment sector by researching working conditions in factories to raise international awareness of labour rights violations in China among brands and the public. Despite the oppressive climate, spontaneous protests and strikes are increasing among workers in China due to improved access to information via social media about corporate malpractice.
This project aims to empower workers with information about the discrepancies between their working conditions and the corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies of brands. It will carry out research in up to 13 factories producing for global fast fashion brands employing around 60,000 people looking at actual working conditions as well as union and CSR practices. These findings will be compared with the CSR policies of brands, and will be collated into a CSR comparison report which will be published and disseminated.
This evidence based advocacy will be used to empower workers by increasing awareness among Chinese workers of their rights, and will be used to pressure brands to improve conditions in factories and ensure CSR policies are being implemented. Speaker tours will be organised in countries including the UK, Japan and Korea to lobby brands, international bodies and trade unions, to bring the conditions of garment workers in China to the attention of consumers, activists and lawmakers.