Thursday 25 April 2024, 16.00 – 18.00
Brady Arts and Community Centre (Side Hall)
192-196 Hanbury Street, London E1 5HU
(5 minutes’ walk from Whitechapel Station and 10 minutes from Aldgate East and Liverpool Street)

The rights of garment workers
Dr Alessandra Mezzadri (SOAS) The Social Life of Industrial Disputes in India’s Sweatshop Regime
Tyrone Scott (War on Want) on Securing Justice for Garment Workers: the need for global solidarity
Accompanying the exhibition of the late Larry Herman’s “Garment Workers” photographs

For further details and to reserve a place, contact Linda Clarke (clarkel@wmin.ac.uk)
This London BUIRA (British Universities Industrial Relations Association https://www.buira.net) seminar is the first to take place outsider the University of Westminster, and to present a visual reality through the powerful photographs of Larry Herman. We are fortunate to have two expert speakers on the rights of garment workers, so providing an opportunity to air and discuss the problems confronting garment workers in an open forum and to consider their implications for industrial relations. Anyone interested is welcome to attend this event. Refreshments will be served, with drinks and nibbles at the end.

Alessandra Mezzadri is lead-author of the International Labour Organisation report on the Social life of industrial disputes: exploring workers-centred industrial relations in India’s garment labour regime (ILO, 2023, with Rakhi Sehgal), tracing conflicts and exploring the links between regional labour regimes in Gurugram (National Capital Region), Bengaluru (Karnataka) and Tiruppur (Tamil Nadu) and the evolution of industrial relations. Through a labour-centred approach focusing on workers’ experiences and by investigating workers’ industrial grievances filed individually or through unions, the study reveals great regional variation in labour practices and malpractices, also along gendered lines, offering, for instance, insights into the need to understand sexual harassment as a key aspect of labour disciplining on feminised shopfloors, as well as showing commonalities, such as illegal terminations, wage-theft, and shopfloor harassment. Alessandra will show how the successful resolution of disputes depends on collective mobilisation through union action, setting freedom of association as paramount to protecting ‘freedoms’ in labour-intensive sectors like garment.

Alessandra is a feminist, and development political economist of labour and social reproduction, and she is Reader in Global Development and Political Economy at SOAS, London. Her publications include The Sweatshop Regime (CUP, 2017.2021), the edited collection Marx in the Field (Anthem, 2021, 2023) and the co-edited Handbook of Research on the Global Political Economy of Work (EE, 2023).

Tyrone Scott is the Senior Movement Building and Activism Officer for War on Want, an organisation that works in the UK and with partners around the world to fight poverty and defend human rights, as part of the movement for global justice. Tyrone will speak about War on Want’s work to secure justice for garment workers and the need for global solidarity.

Larry Herman exhibition
Larry Herman was a documentary photographer, based in east London, whose projects took him from Norway and Scotland to Cuba and the Deep South of America, among other places. He aimed to work in partnership with local grassroots organisations and strongly focused on working people and their capacity to fight for a better life. Larry’s last project took him to Bangladesh, where he documented the lives of the garment workers in Dhaka. With the support and insight of local Trade Unions, he photographed the women actively spearheading the way to improve working conditions in the factories that produce cheap clothing for global markets. These photographs, that encapsulate their lives and struggle, have never before been exhibited. Larry wrote: “I’m a documentary photographer who has rejected the usual role of spectator. I photograph ideas. I align myself with those I photograph. The people in my photographs are never simply objects.”