what: the Clean Clothes Campaign (or the "CCC" as it is popularly called) started in the Netherlands in 1990. Its principal aim is to improve working conditions in the garment and sportswear industry: “A worker in the garment industry anywhere in the world today is faced with decreasing wages, deteriorating health, and an increased risk of losing her job”, declare the founders of CCC.
The Clean Clothes Campaign believes that retailers and brand-name companies are responsible for the working conditions in which their products are made. One of the most important aspects of this organisation is that they gather detailed information on companies’ codes of conduct before targeting their campaign actions to pressure companies to improve working conditions.
how it works: today there are Clean Clothes Campaigns in ten Western European countries. Campaigners are regularly in touch with other organisations, including those where garments are produced, and in this way they work together as a network to draw attention to labour rights issues in this sector. In each country there are coalitions of consumer associations, human rights and women rights organisations, researchers, solidarity groups and activists. Each national campaign operates autonomously. Twice a year representatives from the national secretariats of each CCC gather to exchange information and co-ordinate activities on the international level as needed (for example, in negotiations with multinational companies). The campaigns co-operate with organisations all over the world, especially organisations of garment workers (in factories of all sizes), home-workers and migrant workers (including those without valid working papers).
how to act – an example: in the framework of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, the Clean Clothes Campaign together with global unions, Oxfam and their allies around the world have been campaigning with sportswear workers to persuade sports brands and the International Olympics Committee to “Play Fair At The Olympics” and ensure respect for sportswear workers' rights. During the months preceding the games, more companies, including Umbro, Kappa, Lotto and Mizuno, have become targets of e-mail actions. Thanks to the large number of e-mails some companies have started responding to the campaign.
e-mail it now! This is part of the text that voluntary supporters of the “Play Fair At The Olympics” campaign had to include in their e-mails to major sportswear brands: “When I buy sportswear I want to know that no one has suffered whilst making it. I am shocked and disappointed to learn about the widespread abuse of many of the workers who make your products. I understand that your company has a code of conduct that is supposed to protect workers, but it does not include all internationally accepted workers rights and is being widely ignored by your suppliers (…) I am not convinced that you are truly committed to respecting workers' rights. You have to include all internationally accepted workers rights in your code of conduct and work in consultation with relevant stakeholders, to make sure that workers in the entire supply chain are allowed to defend themselves through trade unions, are paid a living wage and are provided with safe and decent working conditions. Please tell me how you are going to do this. Yours sincerely,...”.