Jane Tate, who with others founded HWW in 1999, died recently, at her home in Leeds, after a long illness.
She first encountered homeworkers when working as an Outreach worker in West Yorkshire during the 1980s, making contact with workers who were not members of trade unions, usually in small and scattered workplaces, to inform them of their employment rights.
Jane’s patient yet determined enquiries led to the discovery of thousands of women working at home —some sewing garments, but many also involved in printing, engineering, electronics or clerical work.
Most were employed completely informally, and for very low wages, and often had irregular work, with no rights to sick pay, holiday pay or severance pay.
She subsequently made contact with activists across Europe who were uncovering the expansion of homeworking during the 1990s, as manufacturers sought more flexible forms of employment.
During this time, Jane also made links with organisations in India, building relationships with many researchers and activists working on gender and labour rights issues.
In more recent years Jane’s work on international homeworking issues focussed on the global leather footwear industry, where homeworkers play a key role in the hand stitching of leather uppers.
For more information about Jane’s work, please contact Lucy (lucy(at)homeworkersww.org.uk).