Friday, 19 July 2019 | Joanna
The fair trade principles ensure that people are not discriminated against on grounds of gender, race, caste, religion or sexuality. But it also deals with the right to freedom of association, which in most cases means joining a union.
Collective bargaining is vitally important for workers in countries where there isn't sufficient legislation to guarantee them good pay and conditions, but it can be used for a lot of different workplace situations as well.
Unions are a vital tool for workers to be able to tackle issues like sexual harassment in the workplace, low pay, summary dismissals and inadequate health and safety provision. Any organisation considering itself to be a fair trade organisation should be happy to support its workers' right to join a union, and make it part of their business plan to hold open and frank conversations with all workers on a regular basis.
Friday, 5 July 2019 | Joanna
The Global Living Wage Coalition defines a living wage as
“The remuneration received for a standard workweek by a worker in a particular place sufficient to afford a decent standard of living for the worker and her or his family. Elements of a decent standard of living include food, water, housing, education, health care, transportation, clothing, and other essential needs including provision for unexpected events.”
Garment factory workers are some of the lowest paid in the world, fuelling the fast, cheap fashion that we have all become addicted to. The living wage in Bangladesh is 15,000 taka per month (equivalent to around £150) but the minimum wage for the millions of mainly young female garment workers is just 8,000 taka per month. In Cambodia a living wage is $218 per month and garment workers are typically paid just $182. So a typical garment worker in Cambodia is paid around 70% of the living wage whereas in Bangladesh the figure is nearer 50%. These workers are being denied the basics of a decent existence - once they have paid rent and food there is nothing left. But it doesn't have to be this way. Deloitte estimates that if fashion brands paid the living wage and passed the whole cost onto the consumer, prices would only rise by 1%. Recently the British government rejected a proposal to add 1p to the cost of each fashion garment sold in order to pay for recycling and waste management.
While some of the producers who make the goods you can buy on the All's Fair website are self employed craftspeople we also work with small family owned factories who employ men and women. Our suppliers make sure the workers are paid the living wage for the country where they live.
Friday, 28 June 2019 | Joanna
The third of the Fair Trade principles almost sounds like it doesn't need to be said, but what exactly constitutes a fair trading practice? The WFTO considers a number of different aspects of the way a business is run to constitute fair trading practices:
1. Intent - the business must have poverty reduction through trade as one of its primary aims. This is a stark contrast to conventional trade where the primary objective is to maximise profit for shareholders.
2. Defined Trade Commitments - This means that they are clear about the terms on which they trade, respect contracts and deliver products on time. You can find our terms and conditions clearly marked on our website. If we are unable to deliver within a few days of you placing your order, we will always contact you straight away, let you know when we will be able to process the order and offer alternatives including a full refund.
3. Payment & Pre-Finance - Some producers in the global south will need to be paid some of the order value up front in order to buy raw materials and pay workers while they produce the goods. All our suppliers offer this when their producers ask for it, some provide it whether asked for or not! All's Fair pays most of its suppliers before the goods are despatched, or shortly after they arrive. Some of our suppliers offer 30 day payment terms but we always pay them as soon as we can and never go up to the 30 days. Most large supermarkets and high street retailers require 90 day terms from their suppliers, and even then farmers and suppliers often have to waste time and money chasing payment. Fair trade is about respecting our partners.
4. Cancellation and dealing with problems Fair trade is about being fair to everyone, from the farmer and manufacturer to our supplier and ourselves, to the customer. We will always make sure you go away happy, whether this requires us to send you something else, refund all or part of your money or simply make a change to our policy. Part of this is our clearly defined returns policy - a 28 day no-quibble returns guarantee.
5. Long Term Trading Partnerships - While we are always looking out for new suppliers with great fair trade credentials we have some suppliers like Namaste who have been with us from the start 12 years ago. We know our suppliers personally and meet them several times a year at fair trade events, trade shows and when we visit their showrooms. We know they have fantastic personal relationships with their suppliers. This personal connection is what makes fair trade stand out for us. It's why we do what we do.
6. Fair competition - Because we travel around Yorkshire to markets and fairs, we will sometimes be trading in a town or city where there is already a fair trade shop selling some of the goods we do. We have friendly contact with the fair trade shops in York, Sheffield, Harrogate and Hull and try not to sell goods that compete with them when we trade there. We will also talk to customers about these shops and encourage people to shop there regularly. Keeping bricks and mortar fair trade shops open is vitally important and if we can introduce someone to fair trade and then turn them into a regular customer for one of our friends in a bricks and mortar shop, that's a win all round!
7. Cultural Identity and Respect of Traditional Skills - Our producers have strong family and tribal connections to the industries where they work eg our recycled aluminium range is made in Moradabad which is a traditional metalworking area of India. Our suppliers bring an eye for the designs that appeal to the UK market and mix them with traditional skills so these skills are not lost. This is most clearly seen in the range of purses from Thai Tribal Crafts which are made by ladies in the jungles of Northern Thailand using the distinctive embroidery, weaving and applique styles of their tribes. These tribes are refugees from Burma and China where their culture has not been respected, but they have found a way to preserve their traditional way of life through fair trade.
The photo above shows two ladies from the Lisu tribe - you can find their purses here.
All's Fair tries to adhere to all the Ten Principles of Fair Trade in all we do. It's important to respect the skills, partnerships and friendships that arise when business is done properly.
Friday, 21 June 2019 | Joanna
Principle Two of the Ten Principles of Fair Trade is Transparency and Accountability.
Fair trade is all about short supply chains and knowing where the goods come from. I love the fact that when I shake hands with one of my suppliers at a trade show, the last hand she shook could have been the hand that made the product I am about to buy. We value the skills of the people who make our products and on this blog you can see some photos of producers making the items on sale. This is important to us and we know it's important to our customers.
Things like transparency and accountability are invisible when they are done well, but when they are missing you start to see why they are so important. When the Rana Plaza complex in Dhaka, Bangladesh collapsed in April 2013 the big fashion brands were keen to announce that their garments were not being made there. This was not true. The garment industry in particular is prone to outsourcing. This is because big buyers are keen to get large volumes of products delivered quickly to ride the trend. But this leads to them setting unrealistic timescales, and the producer, instead of saying "No, I cannot do this" will say "Yes" and then worry about how they are going to fulfil the order later. This will almost always be through passing on part of the order - and taking a cut. The more stages there are in the supply chain, the more middlemen will be taking a cut and the less the garment workers will receive for making the garment.
Companies like M&S are starting to realise how important transparency is and their website has an interactive map of all their suppliers so you can check where their goods come from. Other success comes through campaigning: Traidcraft Exchange is running a vitally important campaign to improve the lives of Assam tea plantation workers, with the first step being the big 6 tea companies publishing details of which plantations supply their tea. Within less than a year all 6 had done so. Because of people like you and me asking them to take action.
We aim to be as transparent as we can be, explaining where our goods are made, giving details of our suppliers and telling their stories. We know this is important to our customers and - to be honest - it's fantastic to be able to tell you how much of an impact your purchase can have.
If you want to know more about how All's Fair goes about business, you can always just ask us. Find us on a stall or send an email.
Friday, 14 June 2019 | Joanna
The Ten Principles of Fair Trade as set out by the World Fair Trade Organisation govern how we operate as a fair trade business.
But what are these principles and what do they mean in practice?
The first principle is all about creating opportunities for disadvantaged people. But what is a disadvantaged person?
This is the official WFTO definition:
“The economically marginalised are people or communities who are restricted to the lower or peripheral edge of the economy, who are prevented from participation in mainstream economic activity by factors beyond their control.” Factors in any country or society which might cause a person to be ‘economically marginalised’ vary greatly from place to place but, for the purposes of a WFTO definition, it would include minimally one of the following:
• Living in a region or country with lack of job opportunities - a place with persistent high unemployment;
• Having a lack of, or lack of access to education or professional training;
• People with disabilities (either mental or physical) that hinder conventional employment;
• Suffering from discrimination (eg caste, race, religious or gender based) which prevents one from taking advantage of existing dignified employment
• Being unable to engage the market as an equal trading partner due to unfair trade rules, dominant monopolies or political restrictions.
• Organisations working for economic integration of marginal/disadvantaged people and creating opportunities for them;
• Craft producers, which are not able to secure a dignified life to their family;
• (Recovering) Victims of violence;
• People escaping from organised crime and illegal economic practices;
• Social and solidarity enterprises.
So you can see that fair trade is all about finding the people who really need our help and working with them to make their lives better through trade. Some of the world's poorest people are being helped out of poverty by fair trade. From the people with disabilities who make our handbags in Vietnam to the women making our jewellery on the bus taking their sick children to hospital, and the people who make our toys trying to rebuild their lives after civil war in Sri Lanka, we support disadvantaged producers wherever we can. Thank you for your support and custom to help us make these lives better.
Over the summer we'll be looking at the rest of the ten principles in turn and seeing how the goods we buy make a difference to people's lives.
Friday, 26 April 2019 | Joanna
Fashion Revolution Week gives shoppers the opportunity to tackle the fashion brands and ask how they can make fashion fairer. Watch our video with top designer Katharine Hamnett and find out how you can take action.
Thursday, 25 April 2019 | Joanna
Fashion Revolution are partnering with Traidcraft Exchange to ask YOU to add your signature to their petition on Modern Slavery.
Wednesday, 24 April 2019 | Joanna
Fashion Revolution Week helps us tackle fast fashion and understand how fair trade fashion supports workers.
Tuesday, 23 April 2019 | Joanna
Most clothing on sale in UK shops is made in factories in the global south (for example Bangladesh) where workers' rights and conditions are not as stringent as they are in Europe.
Find out how choosing fair trade instead can help.
Monday, 22 April 2019 | Joanna
It's Fashion Revolution Week. Find out how you can make a difference with the clothes you wear and buy.