May #FirstWeds Workers Solidarity in International Supply Chains

MayDay #FirstWeds: Workers Solidarity in International Supply Chains

Wed 5th May Livestream 7pm

Covid 19 has brought the issue of international supply chains to the fore. Given an increasing move to online purchasing in clothes, FirstWeds wanted to look at what this means for workers in garment manufacturing.

Exploitation, sweatshops, and dangerous working conditions in the global south continue despite widespread concerns and increasing opposition to ‘fast fashion.’Eight years after the deaths of 1,138 people in the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh, garment workers are still losing their lives in the production of clothes headed for the global north.

Earlier this year in March at least 20 people were killed and 24 others injured in a clothing factory fire on the eastern outskirts of the Egyptian capital, Cairo.

For May’s FirstWeds our panel will explore what supply chain solidarity means today. They will also examine lessons from past examples of workers solidarity in an international supply chain and offer suggestions to strengthen workers’ rights in a world increasingly dependent on transnational labour.

Our panel for the evening are:

Karen Gearon.
Karen Gearon was shop steward of the Dunnes Stores Anti-Apartheid Strike which started on the 19th July 1984 and lasted two years and nine months, forcing the Irish Government to ban South Africian produce.  Karen returned to Dunnes after the strike ended but was dismissed thirteen months later; she went on to win an unfair dismissal case.  After the case, Karen found it was very difficult to get employment in Dublin due to her involvement in the Strike, so she moved to Kerry where she has lived for the past 33 years and works in the community development sector.

Ayesha Barenblat

Ayesha is a social entrepreneur with a passion for building sustainable supply chains that respect people and our planet. With over 15 years of leadership to promote social justice and sustainability within the fashion industry, she founded Remake to mobilize citizens to demand a more just, transparent and accountable fashion industry. Remake’s free educational resources, advocacy campaigns and sustainable brands directory are focused on making fashion a force for good. 

Ayesha has worked across the public, private and civil society sectors to promote the rights and dignity of the women who make our clothes. Prior to founded Remake, she led brand engagement at Better Work, a World Bank and United Nations partnership to ensure safe and decent working conditions in garment factories around the world. Prior to this, she ran the fashion vertical at BSR, providing strategic advice to brands including Levi Strauss and Company, Marks and Spencer, Nike and the Gucci Group on the design and integration of sustainability into business. She has a master’s degree in public policy from the University of California, Berkeley. She counts both Karachi and San Francisco as her homes, and she is happiest when spending time with the women who bring our fashion to life and amplifying the stories of fashion’s most essential workers.

Maeve Galvin

Maeve is a labour rights consultant and former journalist who has spent much of her career focusing on the social and environmental impact of the global fashion industry. She worked for the International Labour Organisation’s Better Work programme in Cambodia, working closely with the world’s biggest apparel companies to improve labour rights in their supply chains. She also worked for the corporate foundation of the Dutch global clothing retailer, C&A building their partnerships in Bangladesh before setting up their operations in Myanmar.

Facilitated by Patrick Marren from the Department of International Development in Maynooth.

As ever we are grateful for the support of Concern in organising our FirstWeds events.