We've Got Blood On Our Clothes

Pim de Morree
Written by Pim de Morree July 16, 2022

How many people do you think work in the global garment industry? And how many of those are women? The answer: 40 million (!) workers, of which 80% (!) are women. A huge problem among those 32 million women? Gender-based violence and harassment.

It's shameful. The problem of violence and harassment is widespread inside the factories that make the clothing we wear. There's a very big chance some of the clothing in your closet has been produced in a factory where women workers are abused.

Take a moment to let that sink in. Is that okay with you?

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As you can imagine, this abuse takes a significant emotional and economic toll on women workers, impacting their mental health, ability to maintain a steady income, and ability to speak out on workplace issues.

Clearly, this is something we need to stop.

A new project

A few years ago, we set up the Corporate Rebels Foundation, a registered charity striving to end inhumane workplaces.

Corporate Rebels donates 10% of its profits to the foundation. We also routinely collect donations from our rebel community.

With this money, we support projects around the world that contribute to ending inhumane workplaces. Our first project focused on providing a lifetime of safe work for Indian factory workers. We successfully funded the project last year, and it is currently in full motion as more and more people get trained so they can leave inhumane workplaces and start making money at workplaces that value their dignity, mental well-being, and safety.

After careful selection, we've now set up another collaboration to end shitty working conditions. Our partner: the Worker Rights Consortium.

The Worker Rights Consortium

The Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) is an independent labor rights monitoring organization that investigates working conditions in factories around the globe. The organization currently has investigators operating in twelve countries and works with hundreds of civil society organizations throughout Southeast Asia, East Asia, South Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and sub-Saharan Africa.

Their purposes include:

  • Documenting and combating sweatshop conditions;
  • identifying and exposing the practices of global brands and retailers that perpetuate labor rights abuses;
  • and protecting the rights of workers who make apparel and other products.

The WRC works toward its goals by:

  • Conducting independent, worker-centered investigations;
  • issuing detailed reports for the public on factories that produce for major brands;
  • and aiding workers at these factories in their efforts to end violations and defend their workplace rights.

The mission of ensuring decent conditions and living wages for the manufacturing workers around the world can only be accomplished by implementing systemic change in global supply chains of leading brands. Unfortunately, time has shown that the majority of brands and retailers are not interested in such change. This is precisely why the WRC seeks to foster binding agreements between worker representatives and global corporations.

Fighting sweatshops

There are a ton of suppliers always competing for business partnerships with major brands and retailers. One of the main ways they try to remain competitive (e.g., offering the lowest costs for the brand they are courting) is by trimming costs. As you’ve probably guessed, this is typically done by cutting corners on the rights of their own workers and their respective wages.

While major brands and retailers typically have codes of conduct in place to prevent them from doing business with such suppliers, they are voluntary and rarely adhered to. The workers of these suppliers are at the mercy of their employer and have little to input into how their workplace is run.

An Indonesian union and the WRC have worked together to design and pilot a new training program for women garment workers that covers three key areas:

  • Defining gender-based violence and harassment
  • Leadership development and advocacy
  • Strategies to address workplace gender-based violence and harassment, including labor-management negotiation and supply chain advocacy.

With the support of the Corporate Rebels Foundation and the SAGE Fund, the Worker Rights Consortium will be providing this training to women leaders across six regions of Indonesia over the coming year.

During this process, individual cases of gender-based violence and harassment will be detailed and documented. We will use this information to engage with major brands and retailers to ensure that their factories remedy these ongoing abuses. By addressing specific abuses that we have identified, we hope to secure an implementation of longer-term policies and/or programs to address these issues in their supplier factories on a permanent basis.

Join the fight

We're very passionate about this new partnership with WRC as we fight inhumane working conditions in garment factories throughout Indonesia.

The Corporate Rebels Foundation has donated € 20,000 to support this project. Now, we're looking to raise € 10,000 more from our rebel community (yes, that includes you!) so we can make an even bigger impact towards ending inhumane workplaces.

Do you want to contribute too?

You can do so easily by making a donation to the Corporate Rebels Foundation now. Click here to donate now. We appreciate it!

If you're part of an organization that wants to donate and/or partner up, or if you'd like to donate more than € 5,000, please contact us at info@corporaterebelsfoundation.org.

Written by Pim de Morree
Pim de Morree
As co-founder of Corporate Rebels I focus on: researching, writing, speaking, and building our company.
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