Annual report 2018 - Making workers rights a reality
“Sustainability is not only about collecting plastic in the Amsterdam canals. It’s about making sure your supply chain is not hurting people’s livelihoods, and that the people who make your clothes can live in dignity.” - Mirjam van Heugten, Campaign Coordinator
At Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC), we believe the world’s garment workers deserve fundamental human rights, safe working conditions, and living wages. Our global alliance extends to 212 non-government organisations and trade unions with special interest for women’s rights, consumer advocacy and poverty reduction.
Since 1989, we’ve engaged consumers with the untold story of garment manufacturing, lobbied for human rights standards with companies and governments, and work in solidarity with workers who fight to improve their factory standards.
Yet fashion’s most prolific brands continue to take advantage of their factory workforce – as many as 40 million garment workers, 85% of which are young and migrant women. Labour is cheapest in developing nations where the raw materials for clothing are plentiful and evidence of fundamental human rights is scarce. While the profiteers of apparel and footwear perpetuate this model with ease, those who fabricate the products for 10 hours or more a day, 6 days a week receive poverty wages, and are forced into excessive overtime, resulting in harassment, and abuse.
In a world of 7 billion garment-wearing consumers, this story entwines us all.
Thanks to the solidarity of activists, workers, citizens and civil society organisations, the fight is alive for workers’ wages, their safety and their opportunities. For years Clean Clothes Campaign has fostered the relationships we share with institutions and foundations around the globe. Today, those relationships reflect our growing sphere of influence and the diversity of our donor landscape – as follows.
CCC secured grant funding for three years from the NoVo Foundation Fund of Tides to develop leadership capacity for women, living wages, worker safety and direct support to workers when violations happen in the factories at the bottom of the supply chain.
With funding from Open Society Foundations, CCC is pursuing a two-year programme on strategic casework , lending support to organisers in low- and middle-income countries.
A US-based philanthropic fund is funding our campaign on women leadership for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games bringing the responsibility of leader brands directly to the workers.
CCC is re-granting funds from Mama Cash to partners in low- and middle-income countries. The three-year programme supports leadership capacity building for women, living wages, worker safety and urgent appeals.
The European Commission approved our grant on transparency and living wages – a network endeavour that begins in 2019. Our donations also include sizable funds from three anonymous donors.
These grants expand our frame of reference and generate new opportunities for fundraising in the future. With the support of our funders, we continue to make systemic change in the global garment industry.
Building capacities for broad social change
The CCC International Office is working closely with long time partners and started a new partnership with a key emerging new network from the United States. Together we are making significant advancements to effectively defend the right to organise, a fundamental condition for ensuring improvements in labour conditions and to instigating broader social change.
Collectively we advanced factory-level casework in dozens of cases across Central America and Mexico, Asia, and Southern Africa. This resulted in supporting workers and their organisations in more effectively engaging with brands and employers to secure remedies to labour rights violations as well as securing space for workers to safely organise and thereby strengthening workers’ collective power.
Progress for the Transparency Pledge Coalition
In collaboration with major trade union federations and non-governmental human rights organisations , we advance the Transparency Pledge Coalition to diminish ambiguity among textile factory supply chains and their practices. More brands, retail discounters, and multi-stakeholder initiatives (MSIs) are moving toward supply chain disclosure as a result of our advocacy at international forums, public campaigning, and lobbying.
In response to our outreach, the multi-stakeholder initiative Fair Wear Foundation (FWF) announced to update its transparency policy to include a registry of manufacturing locations. While this protocol signals momentum, it does not supersede the vital need for individual disclosure of brands’ factory lists.
Following discussions at our ‘Big Tent’ meeting with NGOs and other stakeholders, we socialized our proposed minimum standards and gained supplemental support from members of civil society. In fact, our model led Fashion Revolution to adjust its Fashion Transparency Index in alignment.
Using our leverage behind the scenes
Before we take our campaigns public, we always exhaust all possibilities of dialogue with brands to remedy violations. Sometimes this leads to a successful settlement for the workers.
After a long struggle, unlawfully dismissed union members of the Meridian Garment Industries Limited factory in Cambodia were reinstated and received back pay, thanks to cooperation between Clean Clothes Campaign and other international labour rights groups pushing brands that sourced from the factory to leverage their buying power in their supply chain.
Making sure no one is left behind
On the fifth anniversary of the deadly Aswad factory fire in Bangladesh, happening six month after the Rana Plaza building collapsed, Clean Clothes Campaign carved out public attention calling upon the Bangladesh government and others involved in the industry to finally create a national employment injury insurance scheme that would cover all workers in Bangladesh. The International Labour Organization remains committed to setting up such a system in Bangladesh and several brands have expressed interest.
Campaigning for continued safety
As the Bangladesh Accord neared the end of its five-year mandate, we united with Bangladeshi, European, and US network partners and allies to ensure the programme’s continuation. Campaigning for brands to sign the follow-up 2018 Transition Accord, our network produced more than 150 media appearances.
Around the fifth anniversary of Rana Plaza’s collapse. As a result of our campaigning by the start of the 2018 Accord had 190 brands signatories, up from 60 at the beginning of 2018. As a new feature, several home textile brands participated in the agreement as well.
When the Bangladesh High Court ordered a restraining order on the Accord’s operations, our partner coalition aimed a public campaign lobby at the government to lobby for support for continuation of the Accord.
While the Bangladeshi government postponed the decision to 2019, we are confident in the power of public media attention, mounting political pressure, and signatures in the thousands.
Turn Around, H&M!
In 2013, H&M pledged to provide its 850,000 garment workers with a living wage by the end of 2018. We responded with the #TurnAroundHM campaign – debuted at the H&M Annual General Meeting. Pop-up displays in 30 cities and our strong online presence garnered more than 120,000 signatures – and an increased awareness for brand transparency.
Meeting the powerful where they meet
CCC’s Lobby and Advocacy work included participation in the UN binding treaty process as well as work on EU legislation and an EU Action Plan on Business and Human rights. For this CCC has had a number of meetings with the EU Commission and Parliament, was involved in the development of a shadow EU Action Plan on Business and Human Rights and contributed to a number of parliamentary opinions. Our work around trade has focused on the implementation of the international conventions and standards related to the EU’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP/GSP+) around increased transparency, accountability and space for civil society.
The slow burn of Ali Enterprises’ factory fire
After six years and relentless campaigning, survivors and families of the deceased are finally receiving the pensions they are owed from the September 2012 fire at Ali Enterprises.
For CCC, the embers remain – after learning how social auditor RINA failed to detect safety and labour abuses at Ali Enterprises a few weeks prior to the tragedy. Together with partners in Italy, Germany, and Pakistan, we filed a complaint with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) against RINA. In Pakistan, partner organizations are making progress in preventative safety with a proposal modeled on the Bangladesh Accord.
A worker's quest for compensation
When Clean Clothes Campaign received an urgent request for support from a local Indonesian union after its factory went bankrupt without paying severance to the mostly women workers, a coalition of workers, unions, labour groups, and migrant organisations got together to build support. The #PayUpUniqlo Campaign was born. Consumer actions at key locations in ten countries were followed by targeted actions at major store openings. Events bringing the workers to the head quarters in Tokyo reached millions of supporters and made sure the Japanese garment giant was pushed to the negotiation table at the end of the year. As this did not lead to an agreed settlement, we continue out campaign to push the brand take responsibility for its workers.
Waging war for wages in Bangladesh
After securing leverage from brands and multi-stakeholder initiatives (MSIs), CCC pressed the Bangladeshi government and employers to provide workers with the unions’ unified demand of 16,000 taka per month. When officials announced the final amount of 8,000 taka, CCC and its members and partners in Bangladesh protested.
Concerns about the situation in Bangladesh extend beyond the proverty wages, to the barriers to freedom of association, as well as the government actions against the Bangladesh Accord. CCC has been calling for an EU trade investigation into Bangladesh to verify whether the country still meets the criteria for perferential treatment, in order to urge the government of Bangladesh to improve its labour law and practice. As the European Commission failed to start such an investication, CCC filed a complaint for maladministration with the Directorate-General for Trade,. An urgent solution by the European Parliament also drew attention to the labour rights situation in the country.
The European Commission has not yet started an investigation, but trade relations with Bangladesh have moved to enhanced monitoring.
Our network across the globe
The Clean Clothes Campaign network consists of trade unions and civil society organisations (women's organisations, consumer organisations, research institutes, fair trade organisations, solidarity groups, youth organisations, churches etc.) in most countries where garments are produced or large brands are headquartered. CCC also works in association with sister organisations in the United States and Canada.
Active support to Coalition Building has further strengthened our network and cooperation, and enhanced secure communication and digital security. At the end of 2018, the network consisted of 212 members and partners. This year all regions came together in their regional coalition meetings to further their impact agenda and prepare for the Olympic campaign launching in 2019. The Transnational Steering Board met twice; in March in Spain and in October in Nepal, gearing up for the Global Forum in 2020, bringing all partners and memebers together to create our Global Strategic Framework, setting our objectives for the future.
Highlights in numbers
On Twitter we went from 13652 to 16170 followers
Facebook went from 46010 to 48788 fans
our new Instagram reached 3228 followers since May 2018
our website received 259.000 visits
and we were mentioned194 times in English language media
The Dutch Clean Clothes Campaign and the Clean Clothes Campaign International Office
We share the same office space and administrative support. Clean Clothes Campaign does not have a director or a management team. Decisions on working conditions, such as salary and overtime policy, are jointly taken by the personnel.
The Schone Kleren Campagne / Clean Clothes Campaign governance principles are set out in the Articles of Association.
The board consists of five voluntary members:
Mr. Evert de Boer (chair)
Mr. Sjef Stoop (treasurer)
Ms. Nina Ascoly
Ms. Hester Klute
Mr. Just van der Hoeven