THE FIFTH PILLAR
Doe Lote Thar means ‘Our Workers’ in Myanmar language
Supported by the Conscious Fashion Campaign in collaboration with the United Nations Office for Partnerships, the RCGD Global Design Contest 2020 in partnership with TENCEL™ Luxe will be directing a percentage of funds raised towards two crucial organizations: Awaj Foundation in Bangladesh and The Fifth Pillar (in cooperation with Fair Wear) in Myanmar, as provision for the disproportionately vulnerable garment workers severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Fifth Pillar (TFP), a registered local organization of human rights lawyers, will work in cooperation with Fair Wear to manage the funds raised. The Fifth Pillar is a rights and legal based NGO with a mission of strengthening democratic institutions in Myanmar, which has a strong network with the trade unions, labour organizations, and a payment system to ensure safe fund distribution. Multi stakeholder initiative Fair Wear works with 130 member brands who are committed to finding a fairer way to making clothes, and engage directly with factories, trade unions, NGOs and governments to find answers to problems which others think are unsolvable. Myanmar’s garment industry employs nearly 400,000 workers, of which 90% are (typically young) women.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, factories and shops in Myanmar are closing permanently, temporarily, or reducing working hours, and laying off workers. According to the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population, over 60,000 workers have lost their jobs since the start of the year due to closures and reduction of workforce in factories. In this precarious situation, it is estimated that over 30,000 workers will lose their jobs or receive less than minimum wage, and struggle to meet their basic needs for themselves, and their families. Pregnant workers and women workers with health issues are especially vulnerable in this situation due to the necessity of good nutrition, necessary medicines, basic needs in addition to medical costs related to the pregnancy and delivery. Furthermore, unfortunately it is not uncommon for pregnant workers to be dismissed or to resign before delivery and hence missing out on their legal maternity leave benefits. This is likely to happen more now that so many factories are struggling to keep their heads above the water. In addition to this, new Covid-19 guidelines make it more difficult for pregnant workers to safely reintegrate into the factory operations when factories reopen, and make it almost impossible to secure alternative employment when needed.
Doe Lote Thar Cash Assistance Project
The RCGD Global Design Contest 2020 in partnership with TENCEL™ Luxe is an international design contest, launched on 12th May 2020 to a wide reaching design community including emerging and established designers from every corner of the globe. In addition to creating opportunity for the global design community, the campaign will be supporting a message of hope and directing a percentage of funds raised towards The Fifth Pillar to deliver Doe Lote Thar cash assistance project. It will be managed by the Fifth Pillar and run from May to July 2020 in cooperation with Fair Wear, in order to help the women workers affected by Covid-19. The project is funded by RCGD Global (RCGD) based in the USA.
This cash assistance program is one-time payment to provide 100 USD per worker to meet their immediate needs.
The women workers from garment, bags, and footwear factories are entitled to apply for the assistance, to be provided according to the following criteria, without discrimination against race, religion, age, birth place, and union or non-union membership:
- Pregnant workers who are terminated or laid off
- Pregnant workers who are temporarily suspended from their workplace
- Pregnant workers who received less than the minimum wages due to Covid-19 health restrictions
- Women workers who need emergency health care after being terminated or laid off
Find out more about The Fifth Pillar here, our other ally Awaj Foundation here, and the RCGD Global Design Contest 2020 in partnership with TENCEL™ Luxe here.