A Fair Trade logo indicates a particular set of standards. It signifies that an item was made by people in safe working conditions, who have a voice in their workplace, and that the workplace is one where women are treated equally. The logo also indicates that workers received additional money for the Fair Trade items they made, which can help improve their lives.
MEC sold our first Fair Trade Certified clothing – women’s t-shirts – in 2014. For each Fair Trade item we make, MEC pays a premium that goes directly into a special workers’ fund. The workers themselves decide how to use the funds. They may choose to fund scholarships, pay bonuses or improve community-level services, such as transportation or access to healthcare. With MEC’s first Fair Trade Certified t-shirts, workers in Pithampur, India, opted to buy rain jackets for monsoon season.
Fair Trade Certified factories have regular inspections and training to make sure they’re meeting standards set by the International Labour Organization. The employees learn about Fair Trade, their rights under the standards, the democratic process by electing co-workers to a Fair Trade committee, how to manage and invest income, and how to communicate more effectively with management.
Overall, Fair Trade is empowering for everyone involved: workers trying to improve their lives, factory managers wanting to do things right, brands like MEC backing these efforts, and members who want their purchases to be a choice that matters.