Highlights of MSN's campaign work from our 2011 Annual Report
MSN works to address the serious health and safety issues that remain endemic in the garment industry and in the lives of the women who work in it -- from the debilitating health problems suffered by women workers due to the pace of production and excessive working hours, to the life-threatening practice of sandblasting jeans and the fire and structural dangers faced by workers in Bangladesh.
Despite increasing attention to this issue - by multi-stakeholder initiatives, labour rights advocates and academics - there has been little or no progress on ensuring that workers who make apparel and other consumer products earn a wage that is sufficient to meet their basic needs. Why should workers who put in 60 plus hours a week be living below the poverty line in their country -- some making less than a dollar a day?
Although recognized in most major brand codes of conduct, the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining is continually threatened. Workers who organize unions face discrimination, dismissal, and even violence. Factories where workers have organized trade unions have been closed, and orders have been shifted to non-union factories. MSN works with local groups and international allies to create a positive climate for freedom of association and collective bargaining.
The local activists and organizations that advocate for women's and workers' rights are often themselves targetted by governments and others in order to silence their voices. MSN works with local, national and international organizations to defend their right to speak out.
Precarious work, and in particular the abuse of short term contracts and employment agencies, is recognized as a growing problem in the garment industry world-wide, and one that is increasing workers' vulnerability and limiting the exercise of freedom of association. MSN is working with national, regional and international counterparts to address this dangerous shift toward precarious work and the negative consequences for workers and their communities.
The multi-billion dollar sportswear industry is plagued by worker rights violations against what are mainly poor women workers in Asia and Latin America. In the report "Clearing the Hurdles: Steps to Improving Wages and Working Conditions in the Global Sportswear Industry" MSN identified four central hurdles that need to be overcome by the industry to make real progress on worker rights violations. These hurdles include a lack of respect for freedom of association as well as the poverty wages prevalent in the industry.