Fair Trade Fashion in Bangladesh | Campaigning for Garment Workers Rights

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A tailor who works at Swallows, one of People Tree’s Fair Trade groups in Bangladesh

People Tree works with four Fair Trade fashion groups in Bangladesh, forming long-term partnerships to promote the economic development of the workers and their communities. Profits from Fair Trade are ploughed back into  providing education and day care facilities, developing environmental initiatives and strengthening these groups.

People Tree, Global Village and People Tree Foundation (the latter two are charities) have campaigned for fair wages and decent working conditions in Bangladesh for over 20 years.bangladesh-children

People Tree and Global Village Wear Fair campaign in Dhaka, Bangladesh in 1996.

We have a two way approach:

  1. We work with small production units committed to following the WFTO Fair Trade Standards
  2. We campaign to change the way conventional fashion companies do business

To influence change in the conventional garment sector, we partner with a trade union, the National Garment Workers’ Federation in Dhaka, Bangladesh, by funding one person in their secretariat, and funding a leafleting campaign to raise awareness among the millions of factory workers in Dhaka of their rights. We regularly visit Bangladesh to support our Fair Trade groups and run press trips to promote better practice and publicise the need for a more responsible practice in the garment industry.

In Bangladesh the minimum wage is 15.8 taka per hour for garment workers. People Tree pays on average 50 taka per hour for Dhaka-based tailors. In addition, our producers are real tailors working on whole garments. They know what they are making and who they are making it for. Our workers are not part of an assembly line.

People Tree goes further to ensure safe working conditions for and prevent the exploitation of garment workers:

  • All employees have health and safety training for both their specific job function and general safety.
  • Workplace environmental conditions meet good standards in terms of temperature, ventilation, noise, building surface and structure, fire safety, sufficient light and clean toilets.

It is often the terms of trade that compromise workers’ health and safety and lead to their exploitation. We give producers between 4 and 6 months to fulfil orders, avoiding overtime and ensuring that workers can take holidays.

bangladesh-weaverPeople Tree’s reason for being is to use trade as a tool to help people escape poverty. We also design garments hand weaving, hand embroidery and other craft skills to maximise the job opportunities and earnings of rurally based people. We pay people more than the minimum wage in areas where work is often paid at a fifth of that rate. This means that People Tree’s products are benefiting more people than in conventional fashion.

People Tree spends 5% of its annual turnover providing capacity building, production and design support to the most economically disadvantaged people around the world so they can help themselves, strengthen their indigenous skills, and sustain their families in dignity without relying on charity.

People Tree is a WFTO registered member since 1996 and works to the Ten Principles of Fair Trade. People Tree has also piloted the first Fair Trade mark for clothing with the WFTO.

People Tree has launched the Rag Rage Campaign, challenging  fashion brands sourcing from Bangladesh to stop cutting corners in the garment industry. Join us by signing the Rag Rage petition today!

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