Garment Worker Diaries: lives and wages of garment workers

                                                        garment diary 

A new research project by Fashion Revolution shows lives of garment workers dealing with minimum wages, working hours and chronic diseases.

The Garment Worker Diaries is a yearlong research project led by Microfinance Opportunities (MFO) in collaboration with Fashion Revolution. Interviewers will visit 540 garment workers each week for the next 12 months to learn the intimate details of their lives. They will find out what happens behind the garment factory gates and what life is like outside of work too.
The interviewers will ask the garment workers about what they earn and buy, how they spend their time each day, and whether they experience any harassment, injuries or suffer from pain while at the factory. Labour rights advocates say that workers in Bangladesh, Cambodia, and India often receive less than the minimum wage. Even if they do receive the minimum wage, the advocates say, it may not be enough for workers who need to pay housing costs and provide themselves and their families with food, health care, and other necessities.
The aim of such project is to collect data on the lives of garment workers in such countries. Fashion Revolution will use its findings to advocate for changes in consumer and corporate behaviour and policy changes that improve the living and working conditions of garment workers everywhere.

Fair Trade movement and African farmers call for urgent action to put small-scale cotton farmers on the global agenda as EU is preparing its garment initiative

Cover cotton position paperOn 15 March 2016, the Fair Trade Advocacy Office (FTAO) launched a position paper (alongside with a press release) at the Cotton Forum taking place in Paris, in cooperation with the Association of African Cotton Producers. In this new document, the Fair Trade movement calls on the European Union, G7 and West African governments to step up their policies in support of fairer and more sustainable textile supply chains, and to not forget about small cotton farmers.

As a follow-up to the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment manufacturing centre on 24 April 2013, much public attention has been recently placed on compensation to victims and the improvement of the building safety, working conditions and wages at the garment stage of textile supply chains. Unfortunately, little public attention has gone to the cotton farmers that “grow” our clothes.


In West and Central Africa, the 10 million cotton farmers face an unfair trading system and serious imbalances of power in cotton supply chains, a key obstacle to their livelihoods. Although state control in West Africa has reduced and farmers participate more in the governance of the cotton sector, the power of small farmers remains weak. Bottlenecks and gatekeepers between local actors and the market constitute a key obstacle to ensure a living income for farmers and living wage for their workers. At the same time, West Africa farmers are also negatively impacted by unfair trading distorting subsidies in various cotton-producing countries (e.g. USA, EU, China) that result in abnormally-low prices paid to West African cotton farmers.  

EU garment initiativeThe FTAO’s position paper foresaw the European Union (EU) high-level conference on Responsible Management of the Supply chain in the Garment sector on 25 April 2016. The aim of this first EU garment initiative meeting was to listen to different actors and learn from other initiatives in member states (in Germany and the Netherlands). MEP Arne Lietz (S&D, DE) delivered one of the opening speeches in which he argued for the initiative covering the entire supply chain from producer to consumer mentioning the new Fairtrade Textile Standard as prove that this is possible. Additionally, he emphasized through the implementation of the new EU City for Fair and Ethical trade award (foreseen in the new EU Trade for all strategy), that the Commission should promote the exchange of good practices among local authorities to increase demand for textiles made with Fair Trade cotton. More transparency in the supply chain, as well as for binding due diligence rules on the clothes before they reach the EU-sector were further topics MEP Lietz spoke out for.

For the majority of speakers of the day a full coverage of the garment supply chain from producer to consumer was also self-evident. Commissioner Mimica and the college of Commissioners are now deciding on next steps to take.

Further steps in textile policies should be taken at G7 level, at the Summit of 26-27 May 2016 (Ise-Shima, Japan) which is expected to have sustainable supply chains (with a focus on textiles) on the agenda. The Summit should also report on progress in the implementation of the G7 “Action for Fair Production” agreed by the G7 Employment and Development Ministers on 13 October 2015.

If you would like to find out more about our work on textiles, get in touch with Peter Möhringer at

WFTO product label launched

WFTO Label Launch Ambiente


 On 13 February 2016, at the Ambiente Fair, in Frankfurt-am-Main (Germany), the World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO) launched its international product label that guarantees Fair Trade Organisations operating in every part of the supply chain, from producers to retailers.


The label is backed by a robust and credible Guarantee System. In order to comply with the Guarantee System and use the WFTO label on their products, organizations have to comply with the Fair Trade principles that are: creating opportunities for economically disadvantaged producers, transparency and accountability, payment of a fair price, no child labour or forced labour, long-term trading relations, gender equity and women’s economic empowerment, freedom of association, good working conditions, capacity-building, and respect for the environment. The label can be put on packaging or tags of handicraft and food products as an assurance that the products are produced and/or traded by guaranteed Fair Trade Organisations whose practices are checked against these 10 Fair Trade principles globally acknowledged. 

“There are no international public regulations for the certification of Fair Trade products. Private entities can deliberately set up their own criteria and certify single products without considering the practices of the company that sells these products”Rudi Dalvai,President of WFTO explains.“That is why it is of utmost importance to have a label that allows consumers to clearly identify the organisations who are 100% committed to Fair Trade.”

Based on more than 50 years of experience on Fair Trade, the new WFTO label represents an important step towards the recognition thatan alternative economic model, more humane and sustainable at different levels, is actually possible. By buying products carrying the new WFTO label, traders and consumers can make a concrete contribution to create a more just world, to help fight poverty, social injustice and discrimination, to support economically disadvantaged small producers, and to promote the rights of people and respect for the environment.

Today, more than 50 Fair Trade Organisations are already guaranteed and can use the WFTO label. More than 230 in over 70 different countries are underway.

More information about the WFTO guarantee system and the 60 years of Fair Trade history can be found on WFTO website.

See also the full WFTO Press release.

Fair Trade activities for the International Women’s Day

Womens Day collage

For International Women’s Day 2016, WFTO involved men in their Women For Change activity and asked them to tell us which woman in their environment is inspiring. Stories were shared with a picture of men with their Women Agent for Change and a short explanation of how this woman makes a difference. In total, 30 stories were shared on WFTO Facebook page and on Twitter. Stories came from Asia, the Middle-East, Africa and South America. Male support and recognition is believed to be an essential element to greater equality. WFTO-Europe followed this initiative and WFTO-Asia organised marches. Photos of the marches can be found on WFTO Facebook page too. 

On 8 March, Fairtrade International celebrated the day with FairTradeChats on Twitter. Fairtrade Foundation UK invited coffee farmer Ivania Calderón Peralta to London who works for the Fairtrade-certified Union of Co-operatives, CECOCAFEN, in Nicaragua. She replied to questions concerning her work and their improvements thanks to Fairtrade International as well as about women’s working situations. She explained for example that the biggest challenge she faces is climate change. She also underlined the importance of fair practice in the coffee sector, since having a fair income is crucial for raising her children.

The action follows the publication of Fairtrade International’s fully refreshed gender strategy that can be found on their gender page, along with a short introductory summary.

Later in the day, Fairtrade Mark US organized a FairtradeChat with Tsitsi Tchoruma, COO of Fairtrade Africa and Senior Gender Advisor to Fairtrade International, to talk about issues on Gender Equality related to Fair Trade. These FairtradeChats allow to raise awareness among consumers and are organized regularly. At the end, the organisation gives a Fairtrade Prize (Fairtrade giveaway) to one of the participants. 

Tsitsi Tchoruma also published on Fairtrade International website an opinion piece, Behind the petal, in which she stresses the need to demystify gender, i.e. get aware that this inequality touches men too. She also added that one of Fairtrade International’s project was to secure ownership of crops to help women earn a fair income. Furthermore, she asked for local authorities and actors to take part in the change. This opinion piece was also published in the Huffington post France.

Finally, Max Havelaar France emphasized on Twitter how Fair Trade fights for women’s rights all year. 


World Fairtrade Challenge by Fairtrade International

Fairtrade International World Fair Trade Day


From New Zealand to Poland, from South Africa to Spain – between 13 and 15 May coffee lovers in 50 countries across the globe got together and drank a staggering total of more than 5.6 million cups of Fairtrade certified coffee to show their support for farmers hit by climate change.

Climate change affects millions of coffee farmers who are among the hardest hit by extreme weather, droughts, floods and crop disease. Unpredictable weather patterns make it challenging for them to grow and harvest their crop, as coffee plants are extremely sensitive to changes in temperature. This means that coffee farmers around the world struggle to grow and sell enough coffee to sustain themselves and their families. "There is a chain on Earth that starts at the bottom where producers are. They are the ones who suffer the consequences of climate change, the ones who get the least help, and carry all of the burden. It’s not fair." says Bayardo Betanco of PRODECOOP Fairtrade certified Coffee Cooperative in Nicaragua.

Fairtrade International supports coffee farmers by helping them to access technical knowledge and funds which they can use to successfully adapt to, and mitigate against, the worst effects of climate change. More than 800,000 coffee farmers are part of the Fairtrade International system in 30 countries. In 2013–14, they received a total Fairtrade Premium (the extra money they get in addition to the minimum price when selling their coffee on Fairtrade terms), equivalent to more than 49 million Euros. Farmers can, for example, use the Fairtrade Premium to invest in their farms or in training to improve their farming practices. Access to technical knowledge means they can take steps to change the way they farm so that they can adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Consumers have the power to leverage support for coffee farmers – as the more of their crop the farmers sell on Fairtrade terms, the stronger they can benefit. The first-ever World Fairtrade Challenge has shown that small-scale coffee farmers are not alone in their fight against climate change, but have more than 1.8 million supporters raising their cups around the globe. 

Learn more about the World Fairtrade Challenge and Fairtrade’s work on climate change.

See the full Fairtrade International Press release.


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      The first EU Cities for Fair and Ethical Trade Award is officially launched!


      08 December 2017 (Brussels)Yesterday, the European Commission officially launched the first EU Cities for Fair and Ethical Trade Award. The Fair Trade movement warmly encourage local authorities to give the necessary visibility to their key contributors to make trade Fair by joining the competition.

      The long-awaited EU Cities for Fair and Ethical Trade Award has been officially launched yesterday. This was a commitment that the Commission took in October 2014, when the current EU Trade strategy was launched.

      The purpose of the award is to:

      • Recognize and celebrate cities’ achievements and positive impact in the areas of social, economic and environmental sustainability in international trade. 
      • Emphasize Fair and ethical trade schemes, as well as other non-governmental sustainability schemes, which may bring more sustainable opportunities to small producers in third countries and thus support sustainable and inclusive development.

      The call for applications is now open and EU local authorities can apply until April 2018. The winner is expected to be announced in Brussels in June 2018.

      “The launch of this award has been strongly requested by the Fair Trade movement and the more than 2000 Fair Trade Towns. Therefore, we welcome this initiative which gives the necessary visibility to the contribution of local authorities in promoting sustainable consumption and production models.”

      Sergi Corbalán, FTAO Executive Director

      The Fair Trade movement looks forward to supporting the European Commission and the International Trade Centre, appointed to set-up the award, to make this initiative a real success! The Fair Trade movement will mobilise its network to ensure a high participation of EU local authorities in the award. It will also seize the opportunity to raise awareness on the role of local policy makers in promoting sustainable development through trade.

      You can learn more about the award and how to apply here

      You can read FTAO’s toolkit on localising the SDGs through Fair Trade here

      A pdf version of this press release can be found here.


      The Fair Trade Advocacy Office (FTAO) speaks out for Fair Trade and Trade Justice with the aim to improve the livelihoods of marginalised producers and workers in the South. The FTAO is a joint initiative of Fairtrade International, the World Fair Trade Organization-Global and the World Fair Trade Organization-Europe.


      Peter Möhringer | | Tel: +32 (0)2 54 31 92 3

      Fair Trade Advocacy Office

      Village Partenaire - bureau 1 | 15 rue Fernand Bernierstraat | 1060 Brussels – Belgium


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