What is Fair Trade?
Fair Trade is a movement that promotes trading partnerships based on respect. It aims for greater equity, especially for the world’s most economically disadvantaged artisans and producers in developing regions. It advocates sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to marginalized producers and workers, and by upholding the rights of these stakeholders.
Organizations committed to Fair Trade actively engage in supporting producers, educating consumers and campaigning for changes in conventional rules and practices of international trade. According to the 2003 Report on Trends in Fair Trade jointly produced and published by the Fair Trade Federation (FTF) and the International Federation for Alternative Trade (IFAT), the key principles of Fair Trade include:
• Creating opportunities for economically disadvantaged
• Gender equity
• Transparency and accountability
• Capacity building
• Payment of fair prices
• Good working conditions
• Environmental sustainability
• Promotion of fairer trade
However, the Fair Trade movement is not entirely homogeneous from one organization to another. Consequently, the contents of different codes of ethics (or conduct) vary greatly. In general, most codes stress the need for suppliers to comply with local legislation on areas such as minimum wages and health and safety at work. Some omissions of the basic fair trade principles (as outlined above) are common, especially those principles relating to freedom of association (the right to form a trade union, for example) and to an independent checking procedure meant to ensure that the code is actually implemented in practice. Freedom of association is essential in ensuring that the improvement of wages and working conditions becomes self-sustaining, while independent checks are necessary for the code to retain credibility.
AFESIP Fair Fashion’s Fair Trade Code of Ethics (or Conduct)
Because fair trade principles and codes of conducts vary from one organization to the next, AFESIP Fair Fashion has established its own Fair Trade Code of Ethics (or Conduct), which defines fair trade in a manner that is applicable to its particular project and local situation. AFESIP Fair Fashion supports this code based on its commitment to the principles of fair trade, the need for transparency in working relations, and the importance of awareness-raising and advocacy work.
Employment Freely Chosen & Regularly Provided
This means no forced, bonded, or involuntary labour. Workers are free to leave their employer after reasonable notice. Workers are not asked to pay a recruitment fee, held to a cyclical debt or loan, or required to submit important documents that could prevent them from leaving their jobs.
Work performed are not made on the basis of obligations, labour-only contracting, fixed-term contracts, sub-contracting, home-working arrangements, or through apprenticeship schemes, where there is no real intent to impart skills or provide regular employment.
This encompasses participatory structures involving workers in the decision-making processes and management, as appropriate. Technical assistance to and training for workers are provided through workshops, skills training, and suggestion programmes. This continuous training ensures that workers have opportunities to continually grow and reach their potential.
Working Conditions are Safe & Hygienic
Working conditions are safe and clean. Machines that are provided to and used by the workers are clean, safe, and checked/repaired regularly. Workers have access to clean toilet facilities and to potable water. Workers receive regular health and safety training.
No Harsh or Inhumane Treatment
Physical abuse or discipline, the threat of physical abuse, sexual or other harassment and verbal abuse or other forms of intimidation are strictly prohibited and not practiced.
Living & Fair Wages Paid
Fair wages are paid with the local setting, which means that wages meet national legal standards or industry benchmark standards (whichever is higher), which enable them to meet their living needs and provide some discretionary income. All workers are provided with written and understandable information about their wages each time that they are paid. No deductions from wages are made as a disciplinary measure.
Working Hours Not Excessive
Working hours comply with national laws and benchmark industry standards, whichever affords greater workers protection. Workers are not, on a regular basis, required to work more than 48 hours per week. They are provided with at least one day off for every 7 day period. Overtime hours are voluntary and always compensated at a premium rate.
No Discrimination Practiced
AFESIP Fair Fashion provides equal opportunities for all, and opposes discrimination in any form. There is no discrimination based on race, class, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, union membership or political affiliation. However, because AFESIP Fair Fashion aims to successfully reintegrate victims of sex trafficking back into society, a preference is given to these victims and employment is first offered to them before others.
Child Labour Not Practiced
No recruitment of children (young women under the age of 18 years).
Clothing made with great attention to detail and quality. Only the best materials and textiles are used. We try to buy from local fair trade suppliers and distributors.
Because fair trade principles also promote equitable and fair partnerships, AFESIP Fair Fashion also conducts business under what it calls “Equal Exchange” where all stakeholders equally benefit from the trade or exchange. As such, relationships with suppliers and distributors are conducted in ways that respect all stakeholders and maximizes the profits of everyone. On the one hand, those contracted to provide the materials and textiles used by AFESIP Fair Fashion are paid fair prices. On the other hand, local and international distributors are sold quality AFESIP Fair Fashion products at fair prices. Further, the majority of the profits generated by the sale of our products are reinvested in the project and support our work to help women victims of trafficking, sex slavery or sex exploitation. As such, AFESIP Fair Fashion reserves the right to determine the final price of its products. AFESIP Fashion, however, sends to all of its retail partners a recommended price for each item sold, thus avoiding big disparities in prices.
Additionally, we reassure customers of the origins of the product and the good conditions in which it was produced through our adoption of a Fair Trade principles, transparency and accountability of our practices. Each AFESIP Fair Fashion product is identified with two labels: one printed on cardstock paper attached to clothing and the other printed on a clothing tag sewn to the inside of the garment. These tags convey the Fair Trade principles that AFESIP Fair Fashion has adopted and the fact that its project has a measurable impact on the lives of the producers and workers, improving their standards of living overall while empowering them.