Brands and retailers

Adidas launches three new trainers made from recycled ocean plastic: Adidas is set to launch three new editions of its popular UltraBoost shoe next month, made using plastic debris found in the ocean (25 Apr).

Why transparency matters: The Fashion Transparency Index 2017, released earlier this week by Fashion Revolution, reviews and ranks how much information 100 of the biggest global fashion companies publish about their suppliers and social and environmental policies, practices and impacts. The research found that even the highest scoring brands on the list still have a long way to go towards being transparent. The average score brands achieved was 49 out of 250, less than 20% of the total possible points, and none of the companies on the list scored above 50%. Eight brands scored in the top tier (41-50%): Adidas, Reebok, Marks & Spencer, H&M, Puma, Banana Republic, Gap, Old Navy. You can find the full report at the headline link (24 Apr).

Hanesbrands partners with Give Back Box to give old clothes new life for Earth Day: To celebrate the Earth Day, which took place last weekend, American apparel brand Hanesbrands has partnered with Give Back Box to encourage consumers to “Give Back for Good” by reducing waste, giving their old clothes new life and helping those in need (24 Apr).

Avery Dennison teams up with Fashion Revolution to uncover new #Haulternatives: Monday saw the kickoff of Fashion Revolution Week 2017, a weeklong campaign that encourages people around the world to ask brands #whomademyclothes and demand greater transparency to help improve the working conditions and wages of the people who make our clothes. Avery Dennison has donated Fashion Revolution branded patches made from 95 percent recycled yarn, which will be distributed to influencers worldwide (24 Apr).

Prabal Gurung says sustainable fashion is hard, but worth it: High-end designers may have an easier time creating sustainable fashion than their fast-fashion counterparts – environmentally friendly clothing costs money that consumers might spend at Bergdorf's, but not H&M. But making ethically conscious changes to a luxury brand’s production system still poses its share of challenges. As designer Prabal Gurung told Vanity Fair as last week’s C.F.D.A. + Lexus fashion initiative awards at the Greenwich Hotel in New York, designers must actively choose if they want to add sustainable practices to their companies (21 Apr).

Westfield gives you an opportunity to recycle your unwanted clothes at its malls: Recycling programs, sustainability measures and manufacturing transparency are all in vogue and now Westfield Corp. is looking to join that mix of green-thinking businesses. The program, called Refashion the Future, lets customers drop off their clothing or shoes at the concierge in exchange for a rewards card with deals at Cotton On, Cotton On Kids, Forever 21 and H&M (21 Apr).

Purchasing committee addresses Nike scandal: Oberlin College’s Purchasing Committee is preparing a response to a recent discovery that Nike – one of the school’s largest apparel providers – breached Oberlin’s Sweatshop-Free Apparel Code of Purchasing by buying from factories with unsafe working conditions and failing to permit outside labour monitors from inspecting its contracted factories (21 Apr).

Levi’s drawn into Madagascar labour dispute: The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) is pressuring clothing company Levi Strauss and Co. over its treatment of Madagascan dockworkers, as it looks to escalate a dispute involving the Port of Toasmasina (Tamatave). The union has launched a report about, what it describes as Levi’s “involvement in the exploitation” of the dockworkers, while it plans to take action at stores worldwide to highlight the issue (21 Apr).

Giorgio Armani factory walkout in protest against mass lay-offs: The restructuring of the Giorgio Armani fashion group is in full swing, and it will not be a painless affair. The first sign came on Thursday, when workers at the Giorgio Armani Operations factory in Settimo Torinese, close to Turin, staged a two-hour walkout in protest against massive job cuts (21 Apr).

ASICS rewarded for sustainability efforts: ASICS has been awarded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) ENERGY STAR, which signifies that the building performs to the top 25 percent of similar facilities nationwide for energy efficiency and meets strict energy efficiency performance levels set by the EPA (21 Apr).

Follow the Thread: The need for supply chain transparency in the garment and footwear industry: A new report from a coalition of partners (Clean Clothes Campaign, Human Rights Watch, IndustriALL Global Union, the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable, the International Labor Rights Forum, the International Trade Union Confederation, the Maquila Solidarity Network, UNI Global Union, and the Worker Rights Consortium) entitled Follow the Thread has detailed movement toward supply chain transparency and the development of industry minimum standards contained in a Transparency Pledge. The coalition contacted 72 companies and asked them to adopt and carry out the pledge. The report details their responses and measures their current supply chain transparency practices against the pledge. [You can read an overview by the Clean Clothes Campaign here.] The following brands are named as providing information on supply chains as of December 2016: adidas, C&A, Columbia Sportswear, Cotton On Group, Disney, Esprit, Forever New, Fruit of the Loom, Gap Inc., G-Star RAW, Hanesbrands, H&M Group, Hudson’s Bay Company, Jeanswest, Levi Strauss, Lindex, Marks and Spencer, Mountain Equipment Co-op, New Balance, Nike, Pacific Brands, PAS Group, Patagonia, Puma, Specialty Fashion Group, Target USA, VF Corporation, Wesfarmers Group (Kmart and Target Australia, and Coles), and Woolworths. Apparel companies that responded but did not indicate any impending commitment to publishing their supplier factories are: American Eagle Outfitters, DICK’S Sporting Goods, Foot Locker, The Children’s Place, Walmart, Canadian Tire, Desigual, MANGO, KiK, Hugo Boss, Carrefour, Morrison’s, Primark, and Sainsbury’s. Inditex is included in this list, but it does make information available to the trade union IndustriALL. Companies that did not respond are: Armani, Carter’s, Forever 21, Urban Outfitters, Ralph Lauren Corporation, Matalan, River Island, Sports Direct, Shop Direct, and Rip Curl (20 Apr).

Four years after the Rana Plaza disaster, Canadian Tire stands out, and not in a good way: The United Steelworkers, which, last week, launched its No More Operating in the Dark campaign, targeting generally Canadian apparel companies that have yet to introduce full supply chain transparency, and specifically Canadian Tire, (and Marks, and FGL Sports) (20 Apr).

Gap and Athleta announce bold goals to accelerate the use of sustainable fibres in apparel within the next five years: Gap commits to getting 100% of cotton from more sustainable sources; Athleta commits to have 80% of materials made with sustainable fibres (20 Apr).

Fast fashion sucking China’s aquifers dry? Groundwater is being over-extracted to grow cotton – is China or fast fashion to blame? Highlights: cotton is a Top-5 crop causing groundwater depletion (GWD) globally & drives GWD exports by the USA & India; China imports cotton but exports textiles and store openings of Zara, H&M & Uniqlo rise in line with China’s imports; with 7/10 top cotton growers facing med-extremely high water stress, fast fashion growth cannot be sustainable (20 Apr).

Canadian retailers pushed for more disclosure on supply chains as Bangladesh garment factory disaster anniversary nears: Toronto-based labour rights group Maquila Solidarity Network was one of many authors of a report Thursday last that looked at 72 major retailers from around their world, to see what improvements they have made in both improving their supply chains and disclosing as much as they can about it. The Canadian retailers cited were Mountain Equipment Co-op, Hudson’s Bay Company, Loblaw, and Canadian Tire (20 Apr). (See story above on Follow the Thread for more details on the report.)

Target children’s line helps recycle 250m plastic bottles with Repreve: Repreve recycled polyester is made from fibres that have been transformed from plastic bottles via Repreve’s very own proprietary process. And since July 2016 (when Target launched Cat & Jack), the company has helped recycle nearly 250 million plastic bottles (20 Apr).

Lindex unveils sustainability progress: Swedish fashion retailer’s latest sustainability report shows steady progress towards the company's 2020 social and environmental goals. The company's target is that 80 per cent of its garments will be made from more sustainable fibres by 2020. In 2016 Lindex reached over 50 per cent, while more than 90 per cent of the fashion company's cotton came from more sustainable sources (20 Apr). See more here from Lindex (19 Apr).

Naomi Campbell and Diesel collaborate on a collection to benefit refugee children: Naomi Campbell has teamed up with denim brand Diesel to create a collection whose proceeds will go to her charity Fashion for Relief, which benefits children around the world (20 Apr).

Walmart launches supply chain sustainability program: Walmart has launched Project Gigaton, in an effort to reduce its supply chain emissions by a gigaton – the equivalent of removing 211 million passenger cars off the road for a year. To do this, Walmart collaborated with various NGOs including the World Wildlife Federation and the Environmental Defense Fund to create a toolkit to help supply chain partners look at reducing their emissions (20 Apr).

Are Primark’s sustainability efforts enough to make a difference? A closer look at Primark’s stance on responsible fashion Primark: “Sustainability is not a marketing campaign for us” (20 Apr).

Berghaus makes supplier list public: UK outdoor brand Berghaus is to make all of its direct factory suppliers public in a bid to aid transparency. The company is a member of Pentland Group plc, a privately held brand management company, involved in the sports, outdoor and fashion markets which also owns JD Sports. Pentland's direct factories, including those used to make Berghaus products, have now been made publicly available in the form of an interactive map (20 Apr – subscription required to read full article). You can see the interactive map here.

Major New Zealand clothing retailers score poorly in ethical production report: Tearfund’s Ethical Fashion Report awarded Kowtow and Liminal Apparel A ratings for their ethical supply and production chains. The lowest scoring New Zealand companies, Icebreaker and Farmers, were given D- and F ratings respectively for failing to provide the report with any information about their production practices, Tearfund said (19 Apr). This is story related to a piece in last week’s FSWIR16. You can see the Tearfund guide here.

Salvatore Ferragamo creates sustainable collection using orange fibre: The Italian label is on a mission to develop clothes using innovative materials and has chosen the first fabric in the world made with citrus fruits to kick things off. This venture makes Salvatore Ferragamo the first brand to ever use the material, which resembles the look and sensation of silk (19 Apr).

Target unveils five new sustainable packaging goals: Target has reinforced its commitment to sustainability, announcing five new sustainable packaging goals that complement its existing product goals and look at the packages those products come in. Among them, elimination of EPS for its owned brand product packaging, adding How2Recycle labels on its more of its packaging, and creating end-use markets for recycled materials (18 Apr).

Hanesbrands outlines environmental performance: US apparel business Hanesbrands has released its latest CSR report which outlines its 2016 environmental performance data on energy use, carbon dioxide emissions, water use, renewable energy and landfill diversion. The report outlines steady progress towards the company's 2020 goals (18 Apr – subscription required to read full article). You can see more here at HanesBrands.

Fashion-focused Amazon wins patent for ‘on-demand apparel manufacturing’: Amazon has won a patent for “on-demand apparel manufacturing,” in which machines only start snipping and stitching once an order has been placed. The patent describes a system in which computer software collects clothing orders from all over the world and comes up with an efficient plan for fulfilling them (18 Apr).

Four years after Rana Plaza, union action prevents a repeat in factory producing for Next, H&M, C&A, Zara: On 24 April 2013, the Rana Plaza factory complex collapsed, killing over 1100 mostly women workers. Bangladeshi and global unions persuaded multinational enterprises to join the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Accord and commit to trade union rights, to prevent Rana Plaza ever happening again. Four years on, the case of the Ananta textile factory in Dhaka suggests that it’s working, on this occasion saving 3,000 workers from suffering the same fate as Rana Plaza’s workforce. At 5pm on Wednesday 5 April, a two storey brick structure (where the factory guards were stationed) adjoining the Ananta Apparel factory on Elephant Road, Dhaka collapsed and cracks appeared in the 15 storey reinforced concrete building producing ready-made garments for global brands like Next, H&M, C&A, Inditex (Zara), Mango, Marks & Spencer, River Island, GAP, Levi’s, Abercrombie & Fitch, etc. Ananta’s seven companies exported $240m of garments last year (14 Apr).

Reports, Guidelines and Standards

How four fashion design schools are teaching sustainability: Parsons, Savannah College of Art and Design, the Fashion Institute of Technology and the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising all incorporate sustainability into their curriculums (23 Apr).

Fairtrade cotton farming ‘has lower social and environmental costs’: The social and environmental costs of Fairtrade cotton farming are five times lower than conventional production, a study suggests. Research by the Fairtrade Foundation measured the environmental and social impacts of cotton growing on rural households in India, one of the biggest producers of cotton. It showed the social costs of Fairtrade farming methods were 97% lower and environmental costs were 31% lower than conventional production (22 Apr).

YOOX and Parsons School of Design Come together to promote responsible fashion: YOOX and The New School’s Parsons School of Design have announced a partnership, which will focus on YOOXYGEN, YOOX’s socially and environmentally responsible destination, to promote sustainable fashion practices through education and collaborations (22 Apr).

Four years after Rana Plaza, steps in the right direction but a lot remains to be done: “In its statement, available online, Clean Clothes Campaign addresses a range of recurring issues haunting the garment industry that were particularly highlighted by the Rana Plaza disaster. When the building, which housed five separate garment factories, collapsed, it had not been properly inspected, its workers were not in a trade union, and there was no public record of which brands had been buying from those factories” (21 Apr).

George Brown launches sustainable fashion program to capitalize on “reshored” manufacturing: As bad press continues to plague mainstream fashion and more brands come home to avoid overseas headaches, George Brown College’s new sustainable fashion production program may be just what the Canadian apparel industry needs (21 Apr).

US second-hand market continues to rise amid unsteady retail market: “According to a report from thredUP – the largest online consignment shop that also highlights market trends – it’s the millennials and women over 65 who are most interested in thrifting – 30% and 32%, respectively” (20 Apr).

Why there is no role for storytelling in your sustainability report: “A report is not for storytelling. Very few stakeholders spend time reading dense, formal corporate reports, and those that do want two things: An explanation of how sustainability and/or CSR create long-term value for an organization and its many stakeholders; Data (evidence) to supports these claims” (20 Apr).

Slavery laws would force Australian fashion labels to be more ethical, says report: Introducing modern slavery laws would force Australian clothing companies to clean up their supply chains and catch up with international competitors, the authors of the annual Baptist World Aid Ethical Fashion Report have said (19 Apr). This is story related to a piece in last week’s FSWIR16. The 2017 Ethical Fashion Report can be seen here.

Retail workers fight to get a cut in the era of e-commerce: How do you fairly pay a retail worker in the age of online shopping? (19 Apr).

The shifting gender split of retail workers: The rise in e-commerce has resulted in dwindling demand for brick-and-mortar sales assistants, work typically dominated by women, and a rise in demand for warehouse and delivery work, largely populated by men (19 Apr).

New certification for safer chemicals in textiles meets market needs: Last week in Amsterdam at the Kingpins Show for the denim industry, Clean Production Action (CPA) launched GreenScreen Certified for Textile Chemicals. The new certification program meets industry demand for safer chemicals in manufacturing and communicating the use of those chemicals across supply chains. The certification program builds on GreenScreen for Safer Chemicals, the globally recognized tool for chemical hazard assessment used by governments, companies, and certification standards to encourage the design and use of inherently safer chemical ingredients (19 Apr).

More than half of Americans throw out old clothes: More than half of Americans surveyed said they throw out old clothing rather than donating it, while 62 per cent said they throw items away because they don't think a donation centre will take them. These were some of the findings of recent research into the clothing recycling habits of US consumers. The US has a notoriously low textile recycling rate with data from the US Environmental Protection Agency showing that roughly 84 per cent, or 26 billion pounds, of textiles are still heading into landfills each year (18 Apr – subscription required to read full article).

Avoiding the pitfalls of corporate social responsibility statements: “While CSR statements may foster public goodwill and inform customers and investors about positive company initiatives, they can also create real litigation and liability risks. This article discusses a recent wave of litigation taking aim at CSR statements and steps companies can take to minimize these risks. Over the last two years, a significant number of lawsuits have been filed challenging companies’ CSR-related statements as false and misleading under various state consumer protection laws. These include more than 10 cases against major consumer products manufacturers and retailers alleging that the companies made misstatements and omissions regarding various aspects of their supply chains, including the use of forced and child labour, factory safety, and working conditions” (17 Apr). An article by lawyers, and even though no apparel or shoe brands are named, it’s worth reading.

Manufacturers

Sympatex wins injunction to stop Gore-Tex’s sustainability claim: Gore announced at ISPO Munich 2017 plans to ban the ecologically controversial PFCs from the majority of its laminates by 2020. The chemicals are often used in the outdoor industry for their waterproofing and dirt resistant properties, both in durable water repellent coatings and in waterproof membranes. Sympatex considered Gore’s claim that its clothing are largely produced without any PFCs of environmental concern to be “truth-perverting” and pursued legal action (24 Apr).

Lenzing presents new sustainability strategy: Lenzing AG, globally leading producer of wood-based cellulose fibres, has showcased its new sustainability strategy. Lenzing has also donated $27,000 to the canopy project, Earth Day Network, for its ongoing tree planting programme. The new sustainability strategy ‘Naturally Positive aims to drive the company to operate a truly circular business model (22 Apr).

Water Q&A with Carlos Duran from Gildan: Q: Where does Gildan’s water supply for manufacturing clothing come from? A:  In all regions where we operate textile facilities, most of our water requirements are met through the use of wells, which represent approximately 96% of our overall water use. It is important to note that we ensure our water usage does not significantly affect any water source. Additionally, we do not use water from any Ramsar-listed wetlands, or from water bodies that are recognized as being particularly sensitive (22 Apr).

Indian farmers up the ante against mega textile park: Farmers from the coastal villages in Olpaad taluka in Gujarat, India have sought immediate intervention of the industries department to stop the process of allotting the government land at Pinjrat for the development of mega textile park by the Southern Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SGCCI) (20 Apr).

17 textile industries operate in Pali district, India, violating the green court’s order: Hearing a case on industrial pollution in River Bandi on April 20, the National Green Tribunal sought details of textile industries operating in the area despite the court ordering its closure. The petitioner Kisan Paryavaran Sangharsh Samiti (KPSS), in an affidavit submitted last week, said 17 industries operate in Rajasthan’s Pali district, violating the NGT’s orders. The green bench took a strong view on the issue. “How do you expect us to deal with industries which violate NGT orders?” the bench’s expert member Bikram Singh Sajwan asked the counsels representing the Rajasthan state (20 Apr).

Fashion’s robotic future: Many futurists predict a giant shakeup in the jobs market in the near future as bus drivers, construction workers, paralegals and pharmaceutical workers are forecast to be pushed out of their gigs by job candidates who don’t have a heartbeat. They will be replaced by robots and artificial intelligence. But apparel manufacturing might prove itself to be an exception to this robot future (20 Apr).

The Supply Chain

Bangladesh workers’ database yet to come through: The BGMEA was looking for just 20 names from each of the five factories housed in Rana Plaza to provide compensation under its group insurance policy, but it could not find any. There were no hard or soft documents that could give the identities of the 1,134 deceased workers from the industrial accident four years ago, which was amongst the worst the world has seen. As of now, 70 per cent of the BGMEA’s 3,079 active factories have signed up for the database, according to Ferdous Perves Bivon, vice-president of the BGMEA who is helming the project (24 Apr).

Bangladesh honours Rana Plaza disaster victims amid renewed wage demands: On Monday, thousands of Bangladeshi garment workers staged an emotional commemoration of the fourth anniversary of the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in the Savar district, one of the worst industrial accidents of all time, causing 1,138 casualties (24 Apr).

“We have one eye open and one eye closed”: The dirty labour secrets of fast fashion: “This is the mystery at the center of the modern global supply chain: How can brand-name clothing companies, highly valued in the market for their ability to control all manner of production challenges, not know where their products are being made?” (24 Apr).

Why cheap fashion remains deadly: The collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh that killed more than 1,100 workers was a wake-up call to the industry. Four years after the disaster, has anything changed in the fashion world? (24 Apr).

Workers’ welfare in Bangladesh a must to achieve $50b apparel exports target: Garment industry owners must be serious about workers' welfare and rights, otherwise they may miss the target of $50 billion garment exports by 2021, an economist warned Sunday. “The country may not achieve its goal of earning $50 billion by 2021 without ensuring workers’ rights,” said professor of economics of Dhaka University, M. M. Akash (23 Apr).

Sewing full-time for 61 euros a month in Bangladesh: Four years ago the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh collapsed, killing 1,100 people. Working conditions have improved since then, but wages have not (23 Apr).

Bangladesh garment workers remain vulnerable to safety risks: Garment workers are still vulnerable to safety risks as majority of the production units assessed under a national initiative are yet to fix the identified flaws, industry insiders said. On the other hand, some 800 to 1,000 factories are yet to come under any of the three safety programmes launched by the western retailers and a joint project of the government and International Labour Organisation (ILO), thus posing safety risks to the workers, they added (23 Apr).

EU wants trade unions in Bangladesh EPZ: The European Union has once again asked the Bangladesh government to ensure trade unions in the export processing zones within the ILO convention framework. EU representative and German Ambassador to Bangladesh Dr Thomas Prinz urged the government to immediately allow trade union in EPZs (22 Apr).

EU parliamentary group tables resolution against granting GSP+ to Sri Lanka: A European Parliamentary group has tabled a resolution in the European Parliament against granting the Generalized System of Preferences plus (GSP+) tariff concession to Sri Lanka saying that the Sri Lankan government’s reform efforts are not adequate to grant the tariff concession. The group, Confederal Group of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) of 52 Members of European Parliament (MEPs) in their submission says that the government’s reform efforts, including those that directly relate to the GSP+ criteria, have not yet delivered in their purpose to comply with the international conventions (22 Apr).

Bangladesh launches trade unionist training program: Last week, Bangladesh launched a training scheme for trade unionists that aims to improve industrial relations, ahead of the fourth anniversary of a deadly factory building collapse. “This initiative will definitely help improve relations between the workers and the owners in the garment sector,” State Labour Minister Mujibul Haque said on inaugurating the program (21 Apr).

Remembering Rana Plaza, articles from the Bangladesh press: Thinking beyond Accord and Alliance: “The pro-alliance group, which includes corporations and their allies, try to bypass their accountability by shifting focus on the practice of subtracting that flies under the radar, thereby holding Bangladeshi garment factory owners and the government of Bangladesh primarily liable for the current situation” (21 Apr); Organising labour under the neoliberal gaze: “…the discourse around reform effectively sanitises worker resistance by invisibilising the many structural barriers to organising. The evidence so far suggests that without bodily resistance – the literal occupation of public spaces and streets as well as factories – possibilities for meaningful change are minimal given existing political and legal infrastructures” (21 Apr); Out of the ashes of Rana Plaza: “There is an age-old proverb, “Out of sight out of mind”. This, I fear, is what is happening to the 1,134 workers who died in Rana Plaza, and the thousands who have been injured and are barely surviving” (21 Apr).

Garment workers demonstrate in Dhaka for dues: Hundreds of workers of four garment factories situated in Gazipur and Ashulia have demonstrated in Dhaka’s Karwanbazar demanding back-pay and an end to jobs cuts. They laid siege to the BGMEA building and the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments on Thursday last week. Workers from Shade Fashions International, Shade Fashions Ltd. and P&O Attires from Ashulia joined the protests in front of the Department of Inspection for Factories under the banner of Garment Workers’ Trade Union (20 Apr).

Platform giving voice to workers launches in Turkey: LaborVoices, which provides an anonymous mobile phone platform, rolled out in Turkey last year, collecting data from 3,217 workers in 50 production units. Some results have been published, including 44 per cent of callers mentioning they had been on the receiving end of verbal abuse (19 Apr).

71 Bangladeshi factories complete Alliance CAPs: 71 factories in Bangladesh affiliated with the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety (Alliance) have completed their Corrective Action Plans (CAPs) and this number is expected to double in the next few months. Close to 72 per cent of repairs across all the active factories that are affiliated with Alliance, have successfully been completed. About 64 per cent of the repairs carried out were of highest or high priority including critical items like structural retrofitting of columns and fire doors installations, said James F. Moriarty, country director of the Alliance during a press conference (19 Apr).

Bangladesh apparel industry turning into ‘one of the safest’ in world, says Alliance: The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, the platform of North American retailers, last week observed that Bangladesh’s readymade garment sector was becoming safest in the world from being in one of the worst conditions (19 Apr).

Warning to Bangladesh on EU GSP withdrawal: The European Commission (EC) recently issued the warning on temporary withdrawal of the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) benefit for the country, if it fails to address the labour rights issues and come up with a proper plan of action in this regard within a certain timeframe (19 Apr).

Study looks into cause of Cambodian faintings: Over the years, factory bosses, doctors, labour leaders and everyday observers have speculated about the reasons behind mass fainting, a phenomenon prevalent in Cambodia in which groups of female factory workers swoon simultaneously. Some have blamed cramped working conditions, overheating and a lack of ventilation, while others have noted that garment factory workers, who currently earn a minimum of $153 each month, are often undernourished and exhausted. Last year, a Chinese factory owner said workers were fainting because they had expended too much energy during wedding season revelry (19 Apr).

What’s life like for Indian garment workers? Part of an ongoing series about the lives of garment workers around the world. Garment Worker Diaries is a project by Fashion Revolution (19 Apr).

For Bengaluru’s garment hub workers, the minimum wage is actually the maximum wage: “Come April 1, and as garment worker Manjula K. had bitterly predicted, the joke was on her. That was the date when she and 95 other workers from Bengaluru-based apparel maker Amruta Creations Pvt Ltd were told they could expect cheques giving them five months of unpaid wages. “Instead, the owner sent a letter to the Labour Department asking for an extension – for the eighth time,” Manjula said in Kannada. Cutting vegetables for Sunday lunch, she dropped her voice and added, “I may apply for a cleaning job in a nearby mall”” (19 Apr).

EU raises concerns over labour rights in Sri Lanka: A European Union (EU) fact finding delegation has raised concerns over labour rights in Sri Lanka ahead of a decision being taken on Sri Lanka’s application for GSP plus. The Free Trade Zones and General Services Employees Union said that the EU delegation had met workers who faced labour rights violations, including harassment to trade unions, illegal dismissal of trade union leaders, sexual harassment and labour rights violations within the Free Trade Zones. The Fact Finding Mission, which included Members of the European Parliament Anne-Marie Mineur and Lola Sánchez Caldentey, visited Sri Lanka to assess the country’s progress on human and labour rights (18 Apr).

(Image, Anders Jildén, CCO)

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