Clean Clothes Campaign
The Clean Clothes Campaign was created in the late eighties, during a transition period for the garment industry. Between 1980 and 1990, garment prices worldwide fell by as much as 70%. At the same time, many garment companies were looking for cheaper production options and moved their production to low-wage countries. These processes did not go unnoticed. Activists began to hold garment companies to account for their responsibility in the late 1980s and media increasingly published stories of exploitation in the chains of well-known brands. In the fall of 1988, a group of concerned citizens in the Netherlands drew attention to the working conditions in a garment factory in the Philippines. The activists followed the garment from the factory to the store and discovered that the garment was destined for the Dutch brand C&A. After two years of action and pressure on the factory owner and powerful players in other parts of the production chain, the garment workers reached an agreement with the factory owner for salary compensation. This was a major victory for the garment workers, but not a systemic change in the garment industry. The factory owner himself opened a new factory in a new location not long after, with new garment workers earning at least 30% below the minimum wage. Research revealed similar cases in Bangladesh, India and Western Europe, and more organizations became involved. The Clean Clothes Campaign movement quickly found more allies in both consumer and production countries and from 1991 an ever-expanding global network was created: Clean Clothes Campaign, whose international office is located in Amsterdam and now includes 235 human rights and consumer interest groups, women’s groups and trade unions in both garment producing and consuming countries.
The Clean Clothes Campaign Network works to structurally improve working conditions and support the empowerment of manufacturing workers in global garment and sportswear supply chains so that governments protect employment rights and human rights, companies respect these rights and workers have access to remedy for violations of these rights.
To achieve our vision, we:
• Put pressure on companies to respect workers’ rights and use responsible purchasing practices;
• Take up specific cases of violations of the rights of workers and activists in support of workers’ demands upon their request, and integrate learning from these cases into our strategy;
• Raise awareness, campaign and mobilise people to undertake individual and collective action linked to their role as consumers, citizens, investors, workers or in other areas of life;
• Use judicial mechanisms, lobby for legislation and regulation and call for binding mechanisms for corporate accountability to protect workers’ rights;
• Develop alliances, including those with workers throughout the global garment and sportswear supply chain, to transform the business model and strengthen the global movement for workers’