VANCOUVER, Oct. 8, 2014 /CNW/ - October is Fair Trade Month and leading Canadian outdoor retailer Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) is encouraging shoppers to Buy Fair, Be Fair. Factory employees in Pithampur India have already experienced tangible benefits since MEC launched its in-house Fair Trade Certified™ line in June.
As a part of the program, MEC paid a premium on each MEC Fair Trade Certified shirt that was deposited directly in a fund governed by factory employees. The employees recently made the collective decision to use the Fair Trade premium dollars contributed by MEC and other participating brands to purchase 2,711 rain coats for monsoon season.
Fair Trade standards ensure that garment workers have safe working conditions, a voice in the workplace, higher earnings, and that women are treated equally.
"Our Fair Trade program not only empowers workers with a cash premium," explains MEC Director of Sustainability Amy Roberts. "Fair Trade establishes a democratic process and an employee's committee that becomes an avenue to address grievances and promote ideas to management."
Komil Baror, 24, from Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, works as a tailor in Pratibha Syntex, in Pithampur, Madhya Pradesh, India. A member of the factory's Fair Trade Committee, she has worked at the factory for 5 years. "I want to thank Fair Trade consumers for supporting us. Over a period of time, our involvement with Fair Trade will only improve the quality of our product because workers will be more invested in their work."
Komil is very active in the Fair Trade committee and proposed improvements for migrant workers like herself, including establishing a community kitchen space, repairs for personal storage lockers, and establishing a designated room for visiting parents of workers, some of whom have traveled from thousands of kilometers away.
MEC's partnership with Fair Trade USA includes independent third- party monitoring of workplace conditions in Fair Trade Certified factories. It also provides factory management with support for such things as on-the-ground training geared to upholding workplace safety. For their part, employees participate in a series of Fair Trade trainings to learn about their rights under the standards, how to manage and invest additional income and how to improve communications with management.
The best -selling women's classic t-shirt was chosen as the retailer's first piece of MEC branded Fair Trade Certified apparel because its popularity means more people will have the opportunity to buy fair, be fair. Look for special Fair Trade hangtags to identify Fair Trade Certified products at MEC stores.
Canada's leading outdoor retailer, MEC is passionate about inspiring and enabling everyone to lead active outdoor lifestyles. From city streets and yoga studios to backcountry trails and pristine waterways, MEC matches people with the expertise, experience, enthusiasm and gear they need for camping, snowsports, watersports, cycling, climbing, hiking, running and fitness. Through our commitment to 1% for the Planet, every year member purchases allow us to donate one percent of sales ($3.1 million in 2013) to Canadian non-profit organizations that help conserve ecologically and recreationally important areas. MEC has over 3.75 million members across Canada. Become part of MEC with a $5 lifetime membership and visit us at our 17 stores, at www.mec.ca and our Shop MEC iPhone® app.
About Fair Trade USA
Fair Trade USA is a non-profit organization that promotes sustainable livelihoods for farmers and workers, protects fragile ecosystems, and builds strong, transparent supply chains through independent, third-party certification. Its trusted Fair Trade Certified™ label signifies that rigorous standards have been met in the production, trade and promotion of Fair Trade products from over 70 countries across the globe. Recognized as a leading social venture by the Clinton Global Initiative, the Skoll Foundation and Ashoka, Fair Trade USA also provides critical capacity-building programs at origin, and educates consumers about the power of their purchase. Visit www.FairTradeCertified.org for more information.
An image of Komil Baror, tailor, is available at http://mediaroom.mec.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/KAYE_140510_2202.jpg
For further information: For media inquiries, please contact: Andrew Sutherland, Public Relations, 604-707-3304, [email protected]