Our vision is that all homeworkers around the world, most of whom are women, can come together to claim their rights and earn a fair and secure wage in decent working conditions. Read our new strategy to find out how we aim to get there.
We are inviting brands to work with us, to extend supply chain monitoring to reach hidden workers beyond first tier suppliers. We are keen to collaborate with all supply chain stakeholders to help homeworkers access their rights and improve their working conditions.
Homeworking can be found all across South Asia, doing many different tasks, including embroidery, sewing and finishing clothes, assembling jewellery and stitching leather shoes, both for domestic and international retailers.
Typically employed informally by subcontractors or intermediaries, and drawn from the poorest communities, women homeworkers are often the worst paid and most insecure workers in most companies' supply chains. Homeworkers' employment is irregular, precarious and sometimes hazardous, and their very low rates of pay creates a risk of child labour. As a result, the presence of homeworkers is often hidden by suppliers and may not be disclosed at audits.
Despite this, for many women, especially those with young children, homeworking offers a vital source of family income. Covid-19 has hit homeworkers particularly hard, leaving many unpaid and without future orders, with no social security and many unable to even access the limited government relief that is available in some parts of the region.
Hidden Homeworkers is a consortium of NGOs supporting homeworkers producing for global brands in the apparel and footwear industries in India, Pakistan and Nepal, and other women in precarious employment, co-funded by the European Union. Team members include Traidcraft Exchange, HomeNet South Asia, Homeworkers Worldwide and local HNSA members including SEWA Delhi and SAVE in Tirupur.
As we have highlighted in earlier updates, the Covid-19 crisis has hit homeworkers' hard, as factories lose overseas orders and close due to lockdowns, leaving informal homeworkers without work and also denied access to social security. This update from Traidcraft Exchange who is leading our Hidden Homeworkers project, highlights some of the ways the ways in which our local partners have adapted project activities to respond to the Covid 19 crisis.
There's also a great blog published here (https://www.wiego.org/blog/innovation-and-unity-how-home-based-workers-are-adapting-covid-19-world), reviewing some innovative responses to the crisis by homeworker organsiations in other parts of the world.
HWW has today published a factsheet, highlighting the different stages in the journey towards the decent employment of homeworkers, and listing the actions that brands can take to safeguard this vulnerable group of women workers. We are also aware that some brands have been working with their suppliers to address homeworking issues for some time. Through the Hidden Homeworkers project, we are currently documenting case studies and examples of good practice, to produce a Toolkit that brings together and shares the learning and proven steps which companies can take to improve the employment conditions of the homeworkers in their supply chains. Contact lucy(at)homeworkersww.org.uk if you have a case study to contribute to this exciting initiative.
I'm proud to be publishing today the results of our Consultation exercise in 2019, with homeworkers stitching shoes for Pentland Brands in Tamil Nadu. Homeworkers Worldwide worked with our partners Cividep India to trace homeworkers in this supply chain. Tme and motion studies were carried out to establish a fair piece rate for the hand stitching work, and homeworkers' wages subsequently increased in line with this. Our final confirmation exercise with all stakeholders including the homeworkers confirmed that homeworkers' piece rates rose by one third on average, a substantial increase for these low paid women workers. The study also highlighted the importance of brands sourcing from the region to work collaboratively to maintain these gains and extend them to other suppliers. Please get in touch with lucy at homeworkersww.org.uk to find out more about this initiative.
Homeworkers Worldwide is now working with Traidcraft Exchange and HomeNet South Asia on their Hidden Homeworkers project, to improve the working conditions for homeworkers in apparel and footwear supply chains in India, Pakistan and Nepal. Hidden Homeworkers is a four-year programme that aims to work collaboratively with brands and multi-stakeholder initiatives to map supply chains down to the homeworker level. The programme will help brands introduce simple systems that document homeworkers’ contribution and wages, and develop action plans that drive transparency, best practices and improve working conditions. For more information, see the flyer attached, or contact Lucy Brill at Homeworkers Worldwide.
HWW is publishing our Human Rights Due Diligence monitoring report on the leather footwear industry in eastern Tamil Nadu. This summarises the key learnings from our 2018 project funded by the Ethical Trading Initiative's Innovation Fund, which worked with two ETI retailers sourcing from these supply chains, highlighting labour rights risks for both homeworkers and factory workers, many of whom are women, involved in footwear manufacturing in South India.
This is a report of an initial scoping study documenting working conditions within the textile and garment industry (TGI) within Greater Manchester, based on fieldwork carried out in 2017, funded by the British Cotton Growing Association Work People’s Collection Fund. The report highlights the importance of further research to enable workers voices to be heard in the debate to improve working conditions within UK manufacturing, and to prioritise our provisional policy recommendations. HWW would be very keen to collaborate with others to find ways to extend this work. Please contact Lucy Brill at lucy(at)homeworkersww.org.uk to find out more.