No Sweat: Crowdfunding a T-shirt that fights sweatshops
On April 24 2013, a building housing factories manufacturing for some of the world’s leading fashion brands collapsed, killing over 1,100 garment workers, injuring more than 2,500. It ultimately changing the face of the fast fashion industry forever.
The Rana Plaza disaster, a tragedy enabled by political corruption, corporate greed, and of course the violation of basic health and safety standards, acted as a wake-up call for Western brands and consumers alike. However, 6 years on the fight for fair treatment, fair wages, safe working conditions, non-discrimination and the right to unionise continues.
One of the many organisations leading the way for long overdue change is UK grassroots campaign group No Sweat, who work to end sweatshop labour across the world. Over the past year, they’ve been growing their T-shirt project, importing blank T-shirts made by workers in a co-operative run by former sweatshop workers to the UK.
The T-shirts have already been supplied to a growing number of brands, campaign groups and trade unions all wanting to feel empowered to know that their T-shirts are helping to end exploitation. And what’s more, the T-shirts are made by workers earning a living wage in a carbon neutral factory, where they receive a share of the profits and support for medical bills and school fees for their children.
Unfortunately, factories like this are the exception rather than the norm. Low wages, unsafe working conditions and a lack of union representation prevail. In order to help change the status quo, No Sweat have expanded their T-shirt project even further, and have teamed up with Oporajeo, a co-operative founded by some of the survivors of the Rana Plaza disaster.
Together, they hope to step up and use their collective voices to challenge the destructive fast fashion business model of so many big brands who often turn a blind eye to the labour abuses in their supply chains. As part of this, they have launched a crowdfunding campaign aiming to raise £20,000. The proceeds will provide income to the co-operative, and much needed donations to the unions in Bangladesh continuing to campaign for garment worker rights.
Kazi Monir Hossain, a worker and one of the founders of Oporajeo, said: “All of us at Oporajeo are equal: we are workers and we make our decisions together and ensure we all benefit. Making clothes for No Sweat means our work can help other garment workers fight for their rights and share the benefits.”