The struggle of the 'mill girls': class consciousness in early 19th century New England - Ian Schlom

This article traces the development of class consciousness of and the antagonism between the capitalists and the Lowell and Lawrence "Mill Girls" in the earlier half of the 19th Century in New England.


Better late than never - Needle Trades Action Workers Committee

This is a 1981 shop leaflet from the Needle Trades Workers Action Committee, a rank and file group within UAW district 65 textile shops.

The Needle Trades Workers Action Committee was created by the Libertarian Workers Group, the new york anarchosyndicalist group that would co-found Workers Solidarity Alliance a few years thereafter with other similar groups across the US. This leaflet is responding to the decline of the union local, and puts forward workers self-organization to their coworkers.

The autobiography of Mother Jones

Portrait of Mother Jones

The autobiography of Mary Harris Jones, more commonly known as Mother Jones. The "most dangerous woman in America" and a committed organizer for several unions including the Knights of Labor and the IWW. She was also active in the fight to end child labour and organise every mine.

Civilization in Southern Mills

Two boys working on textile loom

An article by Mother Jones on the working conditions of the South.

By Mother Jones - International Socialist Review, Vol. 1, No. 9, March 1901

A voice from the aliens: about the anti-alien resolution of the Cardiff Trade Union Congress

Voice from the Aliens cover image

No One Is Illegal's 2006 reprint of the first known leaflet against immigration controls, produced by Jewish textile workers in 1895.

We, the organised Jewish workers of England, taking into consideration the Anti-Alien Resolution, and the uncomplimentary remarks of certain delegates about the Jewish workers specially, issue this leaflet, wherewith we hope to convince our English fellow workers of the untruthfulness, unreasonableness, and want of logic contained in the cry against the foreign worker in general, and against the J

Highs and lows of a wage rise - the new garment minimum wage

Garment worker

The Bangladeshi minimum wage board has, after long negotiations, announced a 76% increase in garment workers’ pay, applicable to all seven pay grades. This has quickly been hailed as a great victory by some observers. We’ll go into the details to show that it’s not the result the workers continue to demand and that any gains may not be long-lasting.

The minimum wage increase being granted at this time is a result of particular circumstances. The past year has seen both the Tazreen fire and the Rana Plaza building collapse, bringing the combined deaths of over 1200 workers.

Striking Bangladeshi garment workers win a 77% pay rise

Following a four day shutdown of hundreds of factories by strikes and a series of violent confrontations involving tens of thousands of people, Bangladeshi garment workers have forced the bosses into a 77% rise to the minimum wage, although it is still the lowest minimum wage in the world. This victory will hopefully be a catalyst to other garment workers in India, China, Cambodia, and Laos, who are being held back from confrontation by the boss’s threats of relocation and dismissals.

Millions of workers are employed across the region in the garment industry accounting for over 75% of several countries’ GDP, so the bosses cannot stand a shutdown of longer than a few days. All power to the workers!

Cambodian garment workers march on the Prime Ministers house

Protesting garment workers in Cambodia have clashed with police leaving scores injured. Workers employed at SL Garment processing – who make clothes for Nike, H&M, & Gap - marched on the Prime Ministers house, demanding better pay and working conditions. They were met by heavily armed police who were intent on violence, using live bullets and tear gas to disperse the marchers. A woman selling rice at the side of the road was shot and killed by the indiscriminate shooting of the security forces.

A spokesperson for the Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union said that:

“The crackdown conducted by police this morning against workers was very cruel and unacceptable. Workers were unarmed, why did the police use live ammunition to crack down on them?”

Three million Indonesian workers strike for a 50% pay rise

Three million workers across all sectors (mainly textiles) have begun a week-long strike to demand a nationwide pay rise of 50%, stricter rules on outsourcing, and universal health cover. Indonesia’s economy grew by 6% last year and the workers want a bigger piece of the pie. A group of 37 huge companies – mainly in the textile industry – have submitted a statement to the government demanding no wage increases in 2014, or they will close their factories and leave the country.

A spokesperson for the workers said that:

“Many workers can no longer afford to pay the rent and live under bridges or even the sewers. Instead of rice, they are forced to eat pre-cooked spaghetti. We have worked a lot to help the economic recovery, why are we being trampled on?”

Who can ride the garment tiger?

On Saturday September 21st there began a 10 day mass agitation by Bangladeshi Ready Made Garment(RMG) workers demanding a 170% increase in their minimum wage.

The reforms announced by government and industry in the aftermath of the Tazreen fire and Rana Plaza disasters[1] included a review of the minimum wage for garment workers. The wage was last raised in 2010 while the cost of living has risen 2.5 times. Workers struggle to survive and many are malnutritious.