Organisation: War on Want, UK

Amount: £90 000.00

Year: 2015

Duration: 36 months

Country: Bangladesh and Sri Lanka

Region:

Issue

The garment industry plays a key role in the economies of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and there is a need to recognise increased working standards for female workers.

Project

War on Want are improving working conditions in the Bangladesh and Sri Lanka garment industries by strengthening occupational safety and health standards

Through raising awareness of OSH issues, female workers’ rights and related policy processes, garment workers – and the organisations representing them – will be able to jointly advocate for better working standards. This will include setting up a platform for regular dialogue between government representatives, garment retailers and trade unions to improve standards.

By the end of the project, garment workers would have obtained the skills and experience to continue collectively engaging in problem solving with factory owners.

War on Want, UK

War on Want has over 60 years of experience in promoting workers’ rights. The organisation works in direct partnership with grassroots organisations in several countries to address issues of poverty and inequality. It has worked in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka with partner organisations to promote workers’ rights for over ten years. Following the collapse of Rana Plaza, the organisation has developed a campaign entitled “Never again: making fashion’s factories safe” which resulted in the signature of a legally-binding agreement “Bangladesh Safety Accord” by over 150 biggest clothes companies to help prevent such disasters in the future.

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Partner organisations

The National Garment Workers Federation (NGWF) is one of Bangladesh biggest garment workers unions, representing over 45,000 workers. The vast majority of its members are young, female garment workers. The NGWF is a founding member of the Bangladesh Garment Workers Unity Council, an umbrella organisation of 21 garment worker federations. It is also a member of the arbitration committee, a body that negotiates labour law and cases of workers’ rights violations through dialogue between trade unions, government and factory owners. NGWF was involved in a successful campaign to introduce a new minimum wage for garment workers in Bangladesh, which was approved in 2010.

Free Trade Zone & General Service Employees Union (FTZ&GSEU) is the largest trade union in Sri Lanka, with 16,000 members. The FTZ&GSEU focuses on supporting female workers, who are more vulnerable to labour rights abuses. FTZ&GSEU has a long track record of actively and successfully engaging with government as well as with companies. The organisation has been a member trade union of the National Labour Advisory Committee since 2007. The Committee was established to provide for consultation and co-operation between the government, organisations of workers and employers on social and labour policies and international labour standards. It is chaired by the Minister of Labour.