The Clean Clothes Campaign grew out of direct solidarity between women workers in the Philippines and women in the Netherlands. Thirty years later, direct solidarity is still a backbone of our work - linking the people who make our clothes to the people that buy them.

The problem

Within global garment supply chains, the capital flows from investors back and forth between brands, to agents, to factory owners and management, crossing borders on its way, and never reaching the people working in the factories. Factory workers who manage to organise can sometimes get remedy through pressure on their factory management, but commonly pressure is needed on the brands and companies, the investors and governments in the countries where the power lies.


Brands have long since the boom of the industry outsourced their production, and with it their legal responsibility for the people making their clothes. When violations occur, they claim innocence, and sometimes provide a fund, or partly remedy. However, human rights can’t be divided, and can only exist in connection to each other. Clean Clothes Campaign follows international standards such as the United Nations Guiding Principles and the OECD Due Diligence Guidance on Garments stating that brands have the responsibility to make sure that all labour rights are respected and full remedy is provided when these rights are violated. Even though the importance of supply chain responsibility has been widely accepted, this hasn’t materialised in legal responsibility for brands and companies. Until people buying clothes make decent labour conditions and issue for brands, brands will shirk their responsibilities and workers will pay the cost.

What we do

The Clean Clothes Campaign network started with a group of women workers in the Philippines fighting to get their wages. A group of women in The Netherlands organised in solidarity and their collective actions (in front of C&A shops and in the Philippines) led to a victory for the women. Since those actions in 1989, we have collectively taken up factory-level labour violations on request of workers in dozens of cases across Central America and Mexico, Asia, and Southern Africa. This results 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.

Our global alliance extends to more than 200 non-government organisations and trade unions in 40 countries with special interest for women’s rights, consumer advocacy and poverty reduction. It connects the energy, knowledge, care and power of people as citizens, workers, consumers and activists to make sure that all workers can exercise their human rights.

Quote:

‘In a global economy it is not only investment and profits that travel across geographical boundaries, but also worker solidarity,’ says Sri Lankan FTZ&GSEU General Secretary Anton Marcus

Background

Since 1989, the Clean Clothes Campaign network has been growing to represent groups and organisations in over 40 countries. National coalitions strive to have a representation of unions and various other groups, connecting people, policies and actions throughout sectors. By creating regional coalitions, this knowledge and leverage is expanded across regions. This strategy makes it possible to organise activists, lobbyists and consumers around a case of violations in a certain country, and link them to the workers organising in their own location. By connecting the dots of the global supply chain, we put pressure on where the power and money lies.

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