Experiences of immigrant women in the Winnipeg garment industry : gender, ethnicity and class in the global economy

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Mossman, Kathryn
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The purpose of this study was to explore the work and home life experiences of immigrant women in the Winnipeg garment industry. A case study involving interviews with twenty-three current and former immigrant women garment workers from a variety of backgrounds was developed. Participants were asked to share their experiences of coming to Canada, working in the garment industry, and balancing work and home life. They were also asked to share their views and opinions on the removal of quotas on imported textiles as stipulated by the World Trade Organization's Agreement on Textiles and Clothing (ATC), and the impact this has had on the local garment industry. The findings of this research reveal that the immigrant women garment workers in this study have faced economic barriers and challenges throughout their lives in Canada. While strategizing to improve their situation and deal with these constraints, often through social networks, the World Trade Organization's Agreement on Clothing and Textiles has lead to further challenges through the rapid loss of jobs in this industry. Thus, the increased liberalization of the garment industry through the WTO has intensified the inequalities workers have experienced, especially in a context where company owners are profiting from cheaper overseas labour while local garment workers are losing their livelihoods.