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Speaking tour for support against sweatshops

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war on want, china, sweatshops, international chains, women speakers tour dates, UKWomen activists from China fight back against sweatshop exploitation.

Ten million garment workers in China work for up to 20 hours a day, for poverty pay, in deplorable factory conditions.

But now China’s labour movement is exposing fashion’s hypocrisy and building workers’ power on the ground.

This although China does not allow independent trade unions or conform to international regulations that protect worker rights. The increasing number of strikes and protests by workers struggling for their rights are crushed by the government.

But against all odds, workers are fighting back.

With the support of a vibrant labour rights movement based in Hong Kong, groups like Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM) and Worker Empowerment, have made extraordinary leaps forward in exposing the impunity enjoyed by fashion brands and have built a movement of workers aware of their rights on the factory floors of China.

SACOM conducted undercover investigations of Japan-based fashion giant UNIQLO to expose the grim working conditions facing workers, and demonstrate that what the brand had said was false.

Within months, they had pushed the brand to take corrective action in investigated factories – which benefited thousands of workers.

With brands hiding their supply chain, it has been nearly impossible for local groups in garment producing countries to expose working conditions.

SACOM, China Labor Watch, the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions and
Worker Empowerment have also taken on Disney for what they call ‘blatant violation of Chinese law’ and its International Labour Standards Programme – which required all its suppliers to follow local laws – and ‘showing a complete disregard for the lives of workers’.

And a tour of the UK by speakers from these organisations, who have been winning battles on the ground, has now been made possible by the generous support of TRAID and the Burdon & Blockley Memorial Fund.

The speakers, Sophie Chen, Patricia Tse, Kiki Yeung and Monina Wong, are now calling for supply chain transparency and for international solidarity in joining the push for brands to make their factory suppliers go public and improve working conditions.

Sophie Chen is with Students and Scholars against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM) which began as a students’ movement and has developed into a campaign group monitoring international corporates’ practice in mainland China.

SACOM conducts undercover factory investigations and advocates labour rights in the garment, electronics, and toy industries, and is campaigning against global brands including Disney, Apple and UNIQLO as well as Zara, H&M and Gap.

Patricia Tse, from Worker Empowerment, creates labour education materials, conducts research and supports campaigns in Shenzhen and Huizhou.

Worker Empowerment has gained considerable experience on labour education over the past six years – experience essential to strengthening the labour movement.

Kiki Yeung is with the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU) which represents 190,000 members and plays a key role in supporting workers’ rights in mainland China, where independent trade unions are banned.

And Monina Wong is from the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), based in Brussels, and has worked as part of the labour movement in Hong Kong for over 15 years.

Tour dates: 26 July – London; 27 July – Glasgow; 28 July – Newcastle; 29 July – Manchester. Your support would be very mugh appreciated.

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