Modern Textile Slaves

Mathilde Goudreault


     Clothing factories are taking advantage physically and mentally of the women who make your clothes.  


     Every day, clothes factories like H&M, Forever 21, Topshop, and Zara order huge amounts of new clothes for their new collection. They want their clothes quickly so they will do whatever it takes to be the biggest brand, even if they have to mistreat poor women.  

    H&M and Forever 21 receive new clothes every day. Topshop has 400 new styles a week and Zara has over 20 000 designs per year. 

    But, who are making these clothes? How are they treated in those factories?  

    People in factories are simply treated like slaves. Over 80% of them are women. Females have always been dominating in those industries. They only have access to the lowest-paid jobs. They also are regularly beaten or abused, they always kept working to help their families and to have something to eat. 

    In fact, they have ridiculous pay, they earn even less than men. They can have the obligation to work from 60 to 140 hours in one week because they can’t do their jobs according to the deadlines. 

     More than 540 employees described incidents of threats and abuses. They can face discrimination, sexual and violent abuses, bad conditions. Also, basic work security is a concept that is void in their workplace. Most employers don’t care about their health and safety. Women are also under pressure to work quickly or otherwise, the risk of losing their jobs.  

     Even if garment workers want to go to the bathroom or just drink water, owners make up an excuse to keep them to work like “It’s an urgent piece”.

     The owners are taking advantage of their low position to make all of these gestures. 

     Employees can’t speak up since their culture simply doesn’t allow it. They would be blamed so they are afraid to speak up. When they have enough confidence to fight back or make unions and labor movements to challenge the inequalities, people ignore them. Sometimes, when things go too far, they can be violently attacked or even get killed.  

     “Once a worker makes a complaint, she won’t be able to get a job in any of the factories. She will be blacklisted.” confessed a woman in Global Labor Justice. 

     “We are not allowed to go to the toilet, the targets are so high. The in-charge things like, ‘if you go to the toilet, who will do the work? Who is going to complete the target? Go to work and finish it.’ If I take even a bit too long returning from the bathroom, the supervisor will take away my machine coil. I have to go and ask him for it. Then I have to tell him why it took me so much time in the bathroom.” revealed an H&M’s worker.  

      Companies like Clean Clothes Campaign, War on Want, TRAID, CORE and European Coalition for Corporate Justice are contributing to the workers’ fight against the powerful forces. They need our resources and support for this confrontation. You have to help them.