|Women Encounter Technology: Changing Patterns of Employment in the Third World (UNU, 1995, 356 p.)|
|7. Restructuring and retraining|
The initial field work for this study involved four factory sites and seventy in-depth taped interviews with immigrant women sewing machine operators, packers, bundlers, spreaders and pressers. To help with language interpretation, I worked with women who were familiar with the working class immigrant communities. Women workers were interviewed in English, Chinese, Vietnamese, Portuguese, Italian and Spanish.
Interviews with rank and file workers were supplemented with an analysis of union records, participant observation in the union office, regular attendance at union meetings, and by interviews with plant managers, union representatives and industry specialists. Tours of factories were conducted in Canada and the United States.
The interviews were carried out in two stages between 1985 and 1987, and again in 1990, following the introduction of the FTA. In the later stage, I returned to one of the factories to interview a smaller sample of men who worked as cutters, shippers and material handlers. From 1987 to 1992, I kept in touch with developments in the industry by observing the monthly meetings of the Fashion Industry Liaison Committee (FILC), a municipal committee convened by city councillors representing the fashion district from the New Democratic Party (NDP). The mandate of the committee is to lobby city, provincial and federal governments on behalf of the fashion industry. This committee includes community college educators, representatives from the garment unions, retailers and garment manufacturers.