How Fair Trade Impacts the Lives of Factory Workers

In late October 2015, we visited one of our Fair Trade Certified™ facilities to talk with some of the workers directly and to learn from their experiences. Our purpose was to better understand the impact of Fair Trade on the workers directly.

We are excited to share our findings from speaking with two different workers at the factory. We hope this helps show how your purchase of our Fair Trade Certified products impacts the lives of the workers who make it.

Please note, we changed the names of our interviewees for privacy purposes.

 

INTERVIEW 1

Arjun is in the Housekeeping Department and has been with the company for three years.

 

COYUCHI: What does Fair Trade mean to you and is there anything you would like to see Fair Trade do differently or improve?

ARJUN: For me Fair Trade is no child labor, better living conditions, better working conditions. I know the brands that are contributing to Fair Trade. If we get more and more business, we will majorly get benefited so I want to work hard for the Fair Trade customers. With more orders, we will get more benefit.

 

COYUCHI: Has working here changed your life and can you see those changes at your home or in your community?

ARJUN: India is a country where daughters are less favored than sons. Daughters may be neglected. Because of Fair Trade USA, we are able to spend part of our premium money on a savings account for daughters.  I don’t have a daughter but my colleagues do.

 

COYUCHI: What have you used your premium for?

ARJUN: We have not yet distributed the premiums; we have only voted on the projects. There will be four projects. One is that workers who have been working at the company for more than one year and whose salary is below 20,000 rupees per month will get induction cookware with cooking utensils. The second program is health kits every month for each worker. The third program includes health checkups – eye checkups. The fourth program is the Sukanya account, the account for daughters.

 

COYUCHI: How have you seen Fair Trade impact the lives of your coworkers and do you have other stories that you could tell?

ARJUN: Until now the premium has been too small to get distributed, we have allowed the premium to accumulate for the last year and a half to have more of an impact. Now we have about $20,000, which will be shared with about 180 workers.

 

COYUCHI: Are you on the Fair Trade committee? How has that experience been?

ARJUN: Yes, for the past year. It feels good, because I feel a part of something. Before I was just doing work, and I was not connected to the company. Now, I know the brands and have a position.

 

 

INTERVIEW 2

Deepak is in the Human Resources Department and has been with the company for almost three years.

 

COYUCHI: What was your life like before you started working here?

DEEPAK: My previous company was OK. When I started working here, I could feel the difference – there are better working conditions definitely, workers are not forced to work over time. They treat their workers properly. There are many companies that are not even paying the minimum wages to the workers but here it is not like that.

 

COYUCHI: How has working at a Fair Trade CertifiedTM facility changed your life at work, in your home, and in your community?

DEEPAK: There is no other company in Noida who has a Fair Trade premium. So people are getting additional benefits, the consistency of workers is more here, they are not short of workers, workers are here for a long time and they don’t go off to another job for a short term benefit because they know that here there is a consistent long term benefit that is good to get and it has improved the way of life.

 

COYUCHI: What are the Fair Trade committee meetings like?

DEEPAK: These meetings are called general assembly meetings. Everyone comes to one floor where everyone can come and attend a meeting. We had two to three meetings to date – the first one was to elect members, the second was when the funds got raised and how it needs to be distributed that they discussed. And everyone is given the chance to speak whenever they want to.

 

COYUCHI: Is there anything that you would like Fair Trade to do or help with that they are not currently?

DEEPAK: Right now there is not anything I would suggest. We had a recent meeting with Fair Trade and they presented many projects of which we chose four. In the future, when there are more funds that would be better.

 

 

Following the interview, we have an update as of February 2016. 80 workers – those who worked at the facility for over a year – received a Fair Trade Premium of induction plates and a cookware set for cooking. The workers were excited to receive these items as it saves them time and money on electricity. The alternative to induction plates is gas stoves that require gas tanks. Once these tanks run out of gas, the workers need to travel far distances to exchange it for a full one. These new induction plates are much more energy efficient and are cheaper than cooking with gas, so it saves their families time and money.

 

 

THE FACTORY

The facility has 23 female employees and 163 male employees. 45 of these workers are migrant workers coming from the surrounding areas. There are 12 total people from this facility who sit on the Fair Trade Committee. The Fair Trade Committee meets at least a few times each year to discuss the amount of premium received, brainstorm projects they want to implement, and provide status updates on current projects underway.

 

COYUCHI’S COMMITMENT TO FAIR TRADE

As some background, Coyuchi has long been committed to Fair Trade. The first Coyuchi products to be fully Fair Trade Certified™ are our best-selling Air Weight Towels, and in early 2016 our long-running Honeycomb Blanket and Honeycomb Baby Blanket became Fair Trade Certified at the factory level, and our 300 Percale Sheets, Duvets, and Shams became Fair Trade Certified at the farm level. We'll continue to introduce other certified products over time. To learn more about Coyuchi’s commitment to Fair Trade, click here.

 

To learn more about Fair Trade USA, click here.

 

Please note that the conversations were translated from English to Hindi and back again to English, so they may not be perfectly translated.

 

 

Share: