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Former sweatshop workers launch clothing line
May '10
In order to raise awareness about exploitation and encourage jobs in the apparel sector, textile co-operatives, established by former sweatshop workers from Argentina and Thailand, will soon be introducing a new garment brand on June 4.

Thousands of t-shirts bearing variety of motifs, under the trademark, 'No Chains', by La Alameda from Argentina and Dignity Returns from Thailand, will be introduced in the market and will also be simultaneously launched in Buenos Aires and Bangkok. The plan is to manufacture more clothing in collaboration with other co-operatives.

Argentina's worst financial downturn in 2001 saw La Alameda in the form of a community kitchen, serving many unregistered Bolivian labourers, who had then, run away from the apparel sector sweatshops, which had suddenly risen in Buenos Aires.

Incessant complaints about the apathetic working conditions, in addition to a major accident at one of the sweatshops, which registered the death of six people, of which five were children, finally caught the people's eye on these sweatshop workers. In Argentina especially, the unregistered settlers were found to be working as sweatshop workers in the apparel sector.

As per complaints lodged in the court, by former labour force, renowned apparel brands such as Puma, Bensimon, Lecoq, Kosiuko and Soho were found to be the purchasers of goods produced in these underground firms. Although, the justice authorities have yet to decide upon the final punishment for those responsible, they have already seized the machines from the workshops.

With the support of non-governmental foundation, AVINA, a few labourers had then together, formed a textile co-operative, and started selling their own brand, Mundo Alameda.

Meanwhile, a group of women in Thailand, who lost their jobs without getting their due compensation by the Bed and Bath Company, when their company closed down, formed the Solidarity Factory Co-operative, which was later changed to Dignity Returns.

Informing about their turmoil while working as sweatshop workers in the apparel industry, few of the Dignity Returns members said that, their factory produced apparels for brands like Nike, Gap and Reebok. Not only were they forced to work long hours, but their wages were also held-up when they complained about tiredness.

These two groups had a chance meeting in 2009, during a global conference, hosted by Hong Kong-based, Asia Monitor Resource Centre. Members of the group decided to collaborate and spread their fight against inhumane conditions of clothing sector workers around the globe.

Apparently, No Chains website has clearly mentioned that, 'the garments manufactured in typical apparel firms imprison labourers in chains, in chains of debt, in chains of control by bosses who are more worried about money than workers, wherein, most of the buyers seize profits coming from the worker's blood.'

Fibre2Fashion News Desk - India

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