CLiFF features documentary based on York University international research collaboration

Rethabile’s Story, a 25-minute documentary based on research from York University’s School of Human Resources Management (HRM) Professor Kelly Pike, has been selected for the Canadian Labour International Film Festival (CLiFF). It will screen on Nov. 23 at 5:30 p.m. at Carlton Cinemas in Toronto. Tickets are free.

Kelly Pike

The film is based on the Decent Work Regulation (DWR) Africa project, a collaboration between Durham University (U.K.), the University of Cape Town (South Africa) and York University (Canada) that aims to establish a regional network of researchers and policy-makers with an interest in effective labour regulation. After receiving a grant from the U.K. Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) in 2018, Pike co-led the project and established the project’s partners to achieve decent work in sub-Saharan Africa – and Sustainable Development Goal 8 – by making labour rights more effective.

“As part of the focus groups that were conducted, workers asked whether I would simply do my research and move on, or whether something could be done to help improve their conditions,” said Pike. “Making this film was an opportunity to let workers tell their story and give the rest of the world a glimpse into their daily lives.”

Having premiered in July at the 6th Bi-Annual Regulating for Decent Work Conference, hosted by the International Labour Organization (ILO), the film walks viewers through the garment factories of Maseru, Lesotho, where workers make clothes to be sold in the United States and South Africa. Former factory worker Rethabile showcases the places she used to work, introduces her friends and describes her role in the DWR-Africa project.

“Rethabile was involved in the first focus group I conducted in May 2011, and later became a union organizer and friend,” said Pike. “I hope this film is able to show that her story is really the story of every worker in the global clothing industry and that it highlights a common desire among stakeholders to work together to address challenges and complex dynamics when it comes to labour standards enforcement in global supply chains.”

York University’s Global Labour Research Centre will be screening the film on Keele campus Nov. 20 at 2:30 p.m. in Kaneff Tower, Room 519, as part of their Global Labour Speaker Series. Professor Nathanael Ojong from International Development Studies will lead a discussion following the film, during which there will be an opportunity for audience members to ask questions and discuss the challenges of regulating labour standards in global supply chains with Pike.