BRANDS AND RETAILERS

Marks & Spencer commended by the UK Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner: Kevin Hyland, the UK’s first Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, has written to 25 of the FTSE100 found to be non-compliant with the Modern Slavery Act 2015. Among those he commends for leadership in the letter are Marks & Spencer, which “has launched its interactive supply chain map for first tier suppliers, which includes whether or not there is trade union recognition at each business featured” (30 Jan).

Clean Clothes Campaign lists brands not signing 2018 Bangladesh Accord: Clean Clothes Campaign has published a list of brands that have already signed (60 brands), brands in the Accord now, but did not yet sign the 2018 Accord (159 brands); and brands that “did not even sign the current Accord” (39 brands) (29 Jan).

Six new brands moving Swedish fashion forward: Vogue lists: Rave Review, PRLE, K-ourage, Per Götesson, Hi on Life, and Iggy Jeans (29 Jan).

What you need to know about the newer, nastier fast fashion brands: “The new, nastier retailers couldn’t care less about ethics. They’re using social media and influencers like the Jenner and Hadid sisters to keep on top of trends; they’ve streamlined their supply chains and moved production closer to key markets, allowing them to fast forward the design and manufacturing process.” Brands mentioned are: Boohoo, Misguided and Forever 21. Solutions mentioned are: i) consumers need to make better decisions; ii) spread the work – influence the influencers; and iii) “organisations like the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) should pressure these retailers to join their ranks” (29 Jan).

M&S one of UK retailers yet to renew safety deal in Bangladesh factories: The Guardian reports “Marks & Spencer, John Lewis, Debenhams, Next and Sainsbury’s are among a group of British retailers yet to join international rivals in renewing their commitment to a factory safety deal in Bangladesh. … M&S, John Lewis, Debenhams and Next said they were in discussions and still considering their options ahead of May” (29 Jan).

The Kooples teams with PETA: “French brand The Kooples, which pledged to transition to a fur-free brand in 2016, has teamed with PETA on a collaborative clutch bag. The vegan leather style retails for $65, with all proceeds benefiting PETA” (29 Jan).

Superdry releases statement on slavery and human trafficking: As per the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act and the UK Modern Slavery Act, Superdry has released a statement outlining its position on slavery and human trafficking. The statement included commitments and implementation procedures (28 Jan).

Patagonia stages light projection protest against US government: “Patagonia staged a protest against the government’s land use policies in Colorado this week. The message was cast via light projections against buildings as the industry converges for the Outdoor Retailer trade show” (26 Jan).

60 brands sign 2018 Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh: IndustriALL Global Union has announced it now has 60 brands signed up to the new 2018 Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh to protect the safety of garment workers in Bangladesh. Click the headline link for full list, which includes Adidas, Aldi North, Aldi South, Auchan, Bestseller, C&A, Cotton On, Esprit, H&M, Hugo Boss, Inditex, KiK, Otto, Primark, PVH, Stockmann Group (Lindex), Tchibo and WE Fashion (26 Jan).

New report says false promises and restriction of movement in Indian manufacturers for Western garment brands: A new report – Labour Without Liberty – Female Migrant Workers in Bangalore's Garment Industry – by the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN), the Garment Labour Union (GLU) and Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) alleges “[f]emale migrants employed in India’s garment factories supplying to big international brands like Benetton, C&A, GAP, H&M, Levi’s, M&S and PVH, are subject to conditions of modern slavery. In Bangalore, India’s biggest garment producing hub, young women are recruited with false promises about wages and benefits, they work in garment factories under high-pressure for low wages. Their living conditions in hostels are poor and their freedom of movement is severely restricted. Claiming to be eighteen at least, many workers look much younger … The study found that five out of the eleven ILO indicators for forced labour exist in the Bangalore garment industry: abuse of vulnerability, deception as a result of false promises (wages etc.), restriction of movement in the hostel, intimidation and threats, and abusive working and living conditions. Some of these aspects are also felt to a certain extent by the local workforce, but are more strongly experienced by migrant workers” (26 Jan). [Ed’s note: The report is based on research conducted in three factories, the largest in Bangalore, and interviews with 63 workers. Apart from the brands mentioned above, the following are also named: Abercrombie & Fitch, Columbia, Decathlon, Old Navy and Banana Republic (both owned by Gap), and Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein (both owned by PVH). The three factories are not named, but between them operate over 60 production units in Bangalore. Of the ten brands named, nine have responded to the report (only Abercrombie & Fitch did not). Since the report does not name the factories involved, brands could only provide general responses, which are provided in the report.]

Tchibo, Greenpeace  discuss clothing rental model: Earlier this month, panelists including Tchibo CEO, Thomas Linemayr; Germany’s ex-foreign minister Joschka Fischer; Greenpeace Germany CEO, Sweelin Heuss; Tchibo director of CSR, Nanda Bergstein; and Hendrik Scheuschner, managing director for Tchibo’s sharing partner, Kilenda discussed whether the model of renting children’s clothing can work. Although there was agreement that renting clothes (as Tchibo has initiated with Kilenda) is needed, there was discussion about the viability of the sharing model, particularly whether customers are willing to rent clothes rather than buy them (25 Jan – in German). [Ed’s note: see article below titled “Why buy fashion if you can rent it?” which covers similar ground.]

Fashion brands go to the WEF at Davos: The fashion, apparel and textile industry was at Davos this year, including: Soraya Darabi, co-founder of Zady, a US-based e-tailer of sustainably-produced apparel; Maria Eitel, founding president of the Nike Foundation, and Chantal Gaemperle, LVMH’s executive vice president of human resources and synergies (25 Jan).

Adidas, H&M, Lindex, Nike and PVH among companies among Unifi sustainability leaders: Unifi (a company turning plastic bottles into fibre) last week announced the recipients of the Inaugural REPREVE Champions of Sustainability Awards, which recognise sustainability leaders partnering with Unifi in protecting natural resources. Those awarded include Adidas, H&M, Haggar Clothing, Hanesbrands, Haworth, JCPenney, Levi’s, Lindex, Momentum Textiles, Nike, Perry Ellis, Polartec, PVH, Quicksilver, Target, Under Armour, VF and Volcom (25 Jan).

Eileen Fisher announced goals for sustainable design: Eileen Fisher has established a unified business plan for adopting sustainable design by 2020, based on “an end-to-end merchandising and sourcing plant to reach its goal of 100 per cent sustainability for the year 2020” (25 Jan – free subscription required to read full article).

Mara Hoffman’s pivot to sustainability via SAC: “Three years ago, designer Mara Hoffman went through what one could call an existential crisis. She had been running her eponymous label for 15 years when she hit a wall. Feeling like all her brand was doing was adding more “stuff” to the world – and causing harm to the environment – she knew she had to completely overhaul her business, or walk away from it all together …  [So she] joined the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, “which gave us a community. We were welcomed here to work with other brands. They put this time in that we could benefit from”” (24 Jan).

Boots, Tesco Direct and FatFace are caught selling 'faux fur' items which actually include real animal fur: “Real fur was found in products from UK retailers Boots, Tesco Direct and FatFace. Boots withdrew a £3.99 hair slide featuring a furry pompom found to include mink; Tesco Direct’s £16 fur pompom keyring was found to have rabbit fur used in it” (23 Jan).

In just four days, top fashion CEOs earn a garment worker’s lifetime pay: [Ed’s note: Two weeks ago, Oxfam released a report with the headline “richest 1 per cent bagged 82 per cent of wealth created last year - poorest half of humanity got nothing.” This story from Quartz picks up on parts of the report focussing on Bangladesh apparel factory workers and fashion brand CEOs.] “One way to understand the size of the discrepancy: it takes a CEO from one of the world’s top five fashion brands just four days to earn the same amount a Bangladeshi garment worker will earn over her lifetime, Oxfam says in a new report.” CEOs mentioned in the article are: Stefan Persson, chairman of H&M, and Amancio Ortega, founder of Inditex (24 Jan).

VF achieves textile industry first: Following its announced plan to scale up sustainability efforts – amounting to an average 35 per cent reduction in environmental impact of its ‘key materials’ by 2025 – VF Corporation has become the first company to use the Higg Materials Sustainability Index (MSI) to assess its entire textile portfolio (24 Jan – subscription required to read full article). [Ed’s note: On Twitter, VF’s Director of Sustainable Business Value Barruch Ben-Zekry was quoted as saying, “We want the textile industry to become more efficient in adopting the MSI, it will help everyone become more transparent”.]

Nike goes 100% renewable in North America: Nike will be powering all of its North America-based operations with renewable energy sources after it signed a major agreement to procure large amounts of clean power from a giant wind farm in Texas (23 Jan).

Arcadia accused of pushing suppliers too far: “The Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) has raised concerns over the suggestion that Arcadia Fashion Group will pay suppliers 2 per cent less on existing and future orders” (23 Jan – subscription required to read full article).

Launch of first fashion subscription service focusing on sustainability: Material World is announcing the official launch of the first fashion subscription service that focuses on sustainability, Material Box. Material Box pairs customers with their own personal stylist, after completing a style profile that expertly narrows down their style based on preferences, fit and budget (23 Jan).

Victims of factory fire in Pakistan to be paid compensation: [Ed’s note: This article is from INKOTA, a German development organisation that often works with Clean Clothes Campaign.] “Five and a half years after the devastating fire at KiK textile supplier Ali Enterprises in Pakistan, which resulted more than 250 victims, there is now a long-awaited breakthrough in the payment of compensation pensions. The five million dollars of the textile discounter KiK can finally be paid to those affected. Survivors receive a monthly pension of the equivalent of 55 euros, a widow with two children the equivalent of 96 euros a month. We are glad that the time has finally come – but there is still an urgent need for action so that compensation can be provided quickly and effectively in the event of a disaster” (22 Jan – in German).

Basque fashion brand signals circular future: “Ethical fashion label SkunkFunk has released a new report – Sustainability in fashion. Is it really possible? – which details the company’s environmental progress, where it has moved from using 10 per cent ‘environmentally conscious’ raw materials in its collections to around 90 per cent today” (19 Jan – subscription required to read full article).

G-Star RAW unveils its most sustainable jeans ever: “G-Star RAW is launching its most sustainable jeans ever, created in partnership with Dystar, Artistic Milliners and Saitex. [The jeans] were developed using alternative indigo dyeing processes which ultimately reduced the use of toxic chemicals, salt, and water” (17 Jan).

Protestors hand over petition to Birkenstock for transparency in shoes industry: German NGO INKOTA has handed over 13,606 signatures on a petition calling for “Transparency instead of hide and seek" to Birkenstock. … Birkenstock said at the signing ceremony, “We understand the increased consumer demand for information that the petition expresses. The CADS initiative is an important tool to counter the use of hazardous substances in the manufacture of footwear. As a manufacturing company, we pay close attention to working conditions, especially to occupational safety” (17 Jan – in German).

VF Corp exploring servitisation to champion circular economy: “VF Corporation is exploring rental and service-based business models to promote the circular economy to its consumers, as the company pushes ahead with a new corporate strategy that commits to science-based targets and 100% renewable electricity” (16 Jan).

REPORTS, GUIDELINES AND STANDARDS

Improving Paths to Business Accountability for Human Rights Abuses in the Global Supply Chains: A Legal Guide: “As part of its project on human rights accountability in the global supply chain the University of Essex Business and Human Rights Project has published a legal guide on business accountability for human rights abuses in supply chains. The purpose of the guide is to identify paths to accountability for human rights abuses in global supply chains by looking beyond the ‘arm’s length transaction’ between certain contractual parties in a special relationship. It aims to provide advocates with an informative and interpretive tool supporting them to push the boundaries of civil liability, for human rights abuses in global supply chains, grounded in existing legal principles” (29 Jan). [Ed’s note: the 32-page report can be downloaded here].

Have Hong Kong designers made world’s ‘most sustainable shirt’? Cosmos Studio is the process of building a sustainable and ethical line: ““When people talk about creating a sustainable brand, they mention fair trade, organic cotton or ethical sourcing. We want to do all that but also aim to tackle the most hideous and neglected part of textile manufacturing – the dyeing and processing.” … [using] an exclusive colour diffusion technology called Gidelave that prints colour onto the cotton threads first, before they are woven into a piece of fabric.” (27 Jan).

Investors urge big brands to back safety of Bangladesh garment workers: Thomson Reuters Foundation reports “[a] group of socially responsible investors has urged 160 major retailers who source clothes from Bangladesh to back the extension of an agreement which promotes the safety of millions of workers in garment factories in the South Asian nation. The Bangladesh Investor Initiative, whose members are shareholders in several retailers, has asked the companies to support a three-year extension of a legally-binding accord to improve building and fire safety across the textile industry” (27 Jan). [Ed’s note: the Bangladesh Investor Initiative, organized by ICCR in May of 2014 in response to the tragic collapse of the Rana Plaza building outside Dhaka, encourages apparel companies to sign The Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety.]

Is faux fur as bad as real fur? “Sure, acrylic isn’t sourced from animals. That doesn’t quite make it cruelty-free though. … I started by turning to vegetarian fashion brand Stella McCartney, who has been leading the industry change to faux fur (sometimes even dubbed the “Stella effect”). It was somewhat of a shock to find their Fur-Free-Fur is “...non-biodegradable, made from either acrylic, polyester, wool or mohair.” Even stranger still, their supposedly eco-friendly Fur Free Fur Bomber Jacket (costing £1,165) is made from 100% acrylic. Acrylic fibre is made from a combination of coal, air, water, oil and limestone - a peculiar mix, and definitely not a green one” (26 Jan).

Singapore team finds new way to make aerogels faster: “In a world first, a team of researchers from the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Faculty of Engineering has found a “fast, cheap and green” way to convert cotton-based fabric waste from unwanted clothing into cotton aerogels, a highly porous and light material with strong absorption capacity and low thermal conductivity” (25 Jan).

Sustainable fashion, on a tightrope? “A pioneering initiative of the European Commission to legislate in favour of a truly sustainable textile sector may succumb to the influence of lobbyists … “The Commission is in a state of conscious and premeditated paralysis, it seems more concerned with safeguarding the exorbitant corporate profits of a small group of sectoral multinationals than with putting into practice the fundamental values f the Union,” laments Lola Sánchez Caldentey, MEP of Podemos” (25 Jan – in Spanish).

Sustainability and natural fibres to take centre stage at Pitti Filati: “Yarn makers are approaching the 82nd edition of the Florence-based trade show with a renovated sensibility toward the planet, which inspires sustainable processes, earthy color palettes and multiseasonal features” (24 Jan – free subscription required to read full article).[Ed’s note: manufacturers named include Filpucci (with a yarn made from biodegradable fibre from cotton scraps), and Botto Giuseppe (using sustainable energy at its Italian plant, and launching a sustainable and cruelty-free silk).]

11 billion pieces of plastic are spreading disease across the world’s coral reefs: “A new study of more than 100,000 reef-building corals in the Asia-Pacific region found that plastic on reefs promotes “colonization by pathogens implicated in outbreaks of disease in the ocean.” The study, published Thursday in the journal Science, said the likelihood of disease skyrockets from 4 percent to nearly 90 percent when coral comes in contact with plastic. “We estimate that 11.1 billion plastic items are entangled on coral reefs across the Asia-Pacific and project this number to increase 40 percent by 2025,” the authors said” (24 Jan).

How truly ‘responsible’ is your responsible cashmere? “The issue facing the market right now, explains [Sarah Hayes, Patagonia’s senior manager of materials innovation and development], affects both the goats and the pastures on which they're raised. “We know that the goats have sharp hooves that can break through the topsoil. The way they eat is they eat the grass and the plants all the way from the roots up, so that it's really hard for the grass to regenerate," she says. "That combination of having so many goats that the land can't handle – and that [the land] doesn't really have a chance to recuperate – is a big issue, as well as concern for the herders’ well-being and welfare”” (23 Jan).

Uzbekistan district governor seizes farm land over unfulfilled cotton quotas: “On January 7-8, 2018, Akmaljon Jalolov, hokim (governor) of the Izboskan district of Andijan region, held a special session of the district council of people’s deputies to announce that farmers, who did not meet their quotas for cotton or wheat production last year, must give up their land to the state” (23 Jan).

A conversation on Alta Gracia and the anti-sweatshop movement: An interview with John Kline, who co-authored Sewing Hope: How One Factory Challenges the Apparel Industry’s Sweatshops , a book about “the Alta Gracia apparel factory was started in 2010 in the town of Villa Altagracia in the Dominican Republic. This business was established in the abandoned building of an earlier garment factory that had functioned as a typical “sweatshop” before its Korean owners locked the doors and went elsewhere in search of lower-cost production, leaving local workers unemployed” (23 Jan).       

Trashion Forward - The emergence of sustainable luxury: Kenny Jackson-Forrest has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a “limited edition hardback book focused on the future of sustainable luxury including thoughts from a few industry leaders.” The funding campaign will end on 24 February (23 Jan).

Two bills introduced in Congress to enforce labour standards: Senator Bob Menendez has introduced the Labor Rights for Development Act, to promote labor rights and human rights in developing countries that trade with the United States. “The two bills reform the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), a trade program that conditionally allows 120 developing countries to import thousands of products to the United States duty free. The GSP, codified under the Trade Act of 1974, was designed to promote economic development in developing countries by allowing duty-free exports to the United States, while raising labor standards through trade. However, enforcement of the GSP qualification criteria has been weak” (19 Jan).

Why buy fashion if you can rent it? “Each year, Germans buy 60 new items of clothing. But only a small portion of the growing mountain of apparel is worn regularly. All those items you hardly use could be shared; you no need buy them, but could borrow them” (19 Jan – in German). [Ed’s note: the article mentions Tchibo Share (a baby and children’s wear rental service – mentioned in last week’s FSWIR) and Magdeburg online rental service Kilenda (which has been working with this business model since the autumn of 2014, and has around 15,000 items for children, pregnant and breastfeeding women and toys].

“Soon there won’t be much to hide”: Transparency in the apparel industry: [Ed’s note: This article is by Aruna Kashyap, Senior Counsel, Women's Rights Division, Human Rights Watch. The quote in the heading is from John Ruggie, former UN special representative for business and human rights.] “At the very heart of the guiding principles and corporate responsibility is the notion of ‘knowing and showing.’ If a company does not know and cannot show, or will not show, then it raises questions.… A company that respects human rights … is in a sense shortchanging itself by not being transparent. If it believes its [human rights] practices are strong, they should be disclosing the sites they are monitoring and take credit for that” (18 Jan). [Ed’s note: numerous companies from the industry are mentioned with regard to transparent actions, such as naming suppliers, etc.]

Dutch library where you can borrow clothes instead of books: “Lena fashion library is a store and web shop, set up by three sisters and a friend, that wants to ditch the idea of fast fashion and encourage people to borrow clothes instead” (18 Jan).

“‘Low cost’ creates a vicious circle of precariousness”: [Ed’s note: an interview with Kavita Parmar, designer and founder of IOU Project. Much of the interview focuses on transparency, or the lack of it, in the industry.] Interviewer: “What is the traceability system of your garments?” KP: “We have resorted to technology so that by each label the consumer can know, through a QR code, where the cotton has grown, who has woven it, who has dyed it, and who has sewn each of the garments. I wanted to rethink the supply chain and turn it into a chain of prosperity. I wanted to involve the consumer with each stage of production so that he was aware of what it implies and what it costs. Industrialization has turned artisans into production machines, and I wanted humanize production, so we can put faces to the people who have made the clothes we wear. The more knowledge we have, the more responsible we will be when buying” (09 Jan – in Spanish).

World Employment Social Outlook, Trends 2018 – new report from ILO: The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has released a report on employment trends, the main points of which are: i) global unemployment will remain at 190 million; ii) vulnerable employment is on the rise; iii) pace of working poverty reduction is slowing; iv) inequalities in the labour market persist; v) ageing population set to add further pressure to labour market challenges (Jan 18).

MANUFACTURERS

Gone green – fabrics pivot toward sustainable, responsible fashion: WWD notes change in textiles. “People are going more and more for social enterprise. They want product that has a purpose behind it and that is made more ethically and sustainably … Even the big giants are looking for companies that doing sustainable sourcing.” So says Jyoti Jaiswal, cofounder of OMSutra, a fabric supplier. In the same issue, WWD also published “Japanese textiles lead in techniques, sustainability,” which noted the Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) hosted its first-ever Japan Textile Salon in New York. The words natural, craftsmanship, ecology and sustainability featured prominently. Among the fabrics presented were examples of plant-based material and dyes and paper yarn (31 Jan – free subscription required to read full article).

Research to study breakdown of wool fibres in seawater: “[New Zealand’s] AgResearch and Scion are to embark on a study of how woollen clothing and carpet biodegrades in seawater – research which may boost the appeal of the natural fibre as concern grows about synthetic microfibres entering the food chain” (29 Jan).

Tirupur garment makers shift fabric dyeing to Mysuru: “Garment makers in Tirupur are now increasingly getting their fabric processed in Mysuru to cut costs with about 25% of the work now being done in the neighbouring state [of Karnataka]. “Many knitwear garment manufacturers in Tirupur prefer unauthorised fabric dyeing units, which have not adopted 'Zero Liquid Discharg'e (ZLD) in villages near Mysuru in Karnataka and other districts of the state,” industry sources said” (27 Jan).

Archroma adds to biodegradable, non-PFC based durable water repellent protection series: Archroma, a colour and specialty chemicals company, has introduced a new addition to its range of highly biodegradable, non-PFC based durable water repellent protection, the Smartrepel Hydro series. Smartrepel Hydro is a nature-friendlier protection agent based on distinctive micro-encapsulated, highly biodegradable, non-PFC based technology offering exceptional, durable water repellency to polyester, polyamide and cotton-based textiles (26 Jan).

Otto family buys Sympatex Technologies: The Otto family, owners of the Otto Group, has purchased Sympatex, a producer of breathable, windproof and waterproof materials manufactured using climate-neutral and recyclable membranes. The company is bluesign and Öko-Tex-Standard 100 certified. It is also PTFE- and PFC-free, with technologies and procedures “based on the principles of ecological responsibility and sustainability with a special focus on the optimal carbon footprint.” The press release announcing the buyout states: “In Germany, no other name represents credibility in terms of social and ecological corporate responsibility better than the Otto family”, explains Dr. Rüdiger Fox, CEO of Sympatex Technologies. “With our consistent alignment towards innovation for sustainable functional textiles, we cannot image a better choice. We are already looking forward to continue to enhance the relations with the growing number of customers taking their ecological responsibility and the apparent future market requirements seriously” (25 Jan).

Cone Denim & Thread unveil sustainable denim fabric: “Cone Denim, a leading supplier of denim fabrics to top denim apparel brands, has partnered with Thread International to expand its S GENE collection with socially sustainable denim fabrics made with post-consumer recycled content. Thread is on a mission to end poverty by utilising waste as a resource and supporting responsible, traceable supply chains” (25 Jan).

Filpucci launches the ‘Responsible Innovation” line: “[Italian yarn manufacturer Filpucci’s] “Responsible Innovation Collection” represents a new level of smart innovation linked to responsible, eco-centric production. The collection uses the best high-tech, natural-based materials, combined with the company’s dying & finishing expertise” (24 Jan).

New insulation has 35 per cent recycled materials: “Capitalizing on consumer demand for performance and sustainability, the mainland China-based Ziran Non-Woven and the Taiwan-headquartered, globally focused Shinih Enterprise – have chosen the Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show in Denver, Colorado, to launch the first commercially available Thermolite T3 EcoMade insulation by Invista … using a minimum of 35% in recycled materials” (23 Jan).

Project to provide industrial wastewater reuse technology to Hong Kong-based textile firm: “Boston-based Gradiant Corporation has signed a project to provide industrial wastewater reuse technology to Hong Kong-based textile firm, Esquel Group. As part of the project, Gradiant will supply its humidification and dehumidification (HDH) system to remove harmful pollutants and recover clean water during the textile manufacturing process” (22 Jan).

THE SUPPLY CHAIN

In Cambodia, more than 60 factory staff in mass fainting: “More than 60 workers at the Juhui Footwear factory in Kampong Cham province’s Cheung Prey district fainted on Friday [last week] due to a lack of air in the workplace” (29 Jan).

Minimum wage for Bangladesh cotton textile sector proposed at only Tk 5,710: “The minimum wage board formed for the cotton textile sector has finalised its recommendations, setting Tk 5,710 [US$68.57] as gross monthly pay for the sector workers. Currently, the minimum wage for the textile sector workers is Tk 3,302 [US$39.65] set in 2011. … the owners and workers representatives to the wage board said that the board made the recommendation ‘unanimously’ while labour leaders said that the proposed amount was not acceptable” (28 Jan).

BGMEA wants to have joint proposal over minimum wage: “The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association [last week] expressed its intention to reach a settlement over the minimum wage for garment workers through negotiations with labour leaders before submitting the agreed amount as a joint proposal to the newly formed wage board. … At the meeting, Garment Tailors Workers League general secretary Badruddoza Nizam alleged that leaders of some left leaning trade unions were instigating workers to take to the streets over the minimum wage” (26 Jan).

Second summons for former Cambodian union leader: “Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday issued a second warrant summoning former Free Trade Union president Chea Mony to appear in court in early February, for allegedly inciting foreign countries to impose sanctions on Cambodia. The second summons came after Mr Mony failed to appear in court on Monday [last week]” (26 Jan).

Bangladesh factories in Bangladesh disregarding environment: “While the garment and leather industries have immensely contributed to the national economy, their waste disposal mechanism remains a grey area. A photograph published in this newspaper [the Daily Star] on January 24 demonstrates why, as it shows waste materials being burnt as fuel to heat bitumen for road repair at Chittagong’s CRB Satrasta Crossing” (25 Jan).

Apparel workers’ leaders want Tk16,000 as minimum wage in Bangladesh: “[Apparel industry] trade unions’ federations affiliated with global trade union Industriall have demanded Tk16,000 per month [US$192] be fixed as minimum wage for the country’s RMG workers. … Industriall Bangladesh Council (IBC) General Secretary Md Towhidur Rahman said: “Of Tk16,000 we demand, Tk10,643 has to be fixed as basic wage, Tk4257 (40% of the basic wage) as house rents, and Tk1100 as transportation and medical allowances.” They also demanded increasing annual pay increments to 10-15% from the existing 5% and classifying all workers into four grades, instead of the existing seven grades” (25 Jan). [Ed’s note: the current minimum wage is Tk5,300 (US$63.64]. Comments on the article from local readers included one stating: “[F]oreign agents are trying to create labour unrest.”]

Working conditions improving in garment factories, says ILO: “A report released [last week] by Better Factories Cambodia (BFC), a programme of the International Labour Organisation, found that compliance in the garment industry with working conditions regulations has improved substantially in the last four year” (24 Jan). [Ed’s note: Rival newspaper The Phnom Penh Post had a different take on the report: Report shows little sign of improvement at factories: “A Better Factories Cambodia report shows little improvement in the continued use of short-term contracts and safety and health conditions for workers at surveyed factories, with total compliance of all exporting factories still stuck at less than 50 percent” (25 Jan).]

Jute mill workers on strike in Bangladesh: “More than 25,000 workers of eight jute mills in Jessore and Khulna began continuous protests to press home their 11-point demand, halting the production of these factories” (24 Jan).

Fainting in Cambodian factory blamed on machinery oil and smoke: “More than 100 workers at the KKN Apparel factory in Koh Kong province’s Special Economic Zone fainted yesterday after the smell of oil spread inside the building. Yuk Sangvat, director of the provincial labour and vocational training department, said 127 workers fainted due to the smell of oil and smoke from machinery that was clearing land nearby” (24 Jan). [Ed’s note: Another article - More than 120 workers faint at Adidas supplier in Koh Kong – names Adidas as a buyer.]

Fire guts garment scrap warehouse in Bangladesh: “Fire gutted valuables, worth Tk 3 lakh, at a jhut (scrap fabrics from garment factories) warehouse in Aturar Depot area in Chittagong city [last week]” (23 Jan).

Cambodian garment sector looking to tackle road accidents: “Garment sector stakeholders [have] mulled over a strategy to tackle the high number of road accidents involving factory workers, an issue that has been a matter of concern to labour rights advocates for years. The new strategy is being put together by the road safety group AIP Foundation under the auspices of the International Labour Organization’s Better Factories Cambodia (BFC) program and focuses on four major areas: road safety management, safer infrastructure, better transportation options and educating road users (23 Jan).

The app teaching Cambodian garment workers about their sexual health: “How Chat! is making contraception and STD information into a game and helping women at the same time … The program uses a blend of soap-opera-style videos of Cambodian factory women facing critical sexual choices. Chat! delivers those videos through in-factory screenings and via mobile devices. It also facilitates trust-building sessions in the workplace, along with a mobile app that provides once-daily quiz questions with the opportunity to build points and raise your rank within the game” (23 Jan). [Ed’s note: you can see more on Chat! here and here, and some subtitled soap-opera-style videos mentioned in the article here, here and here.]

(Photo evondueCCO)

Disclaimer: The Fashion Sustainability Week in Review (FSWIR) is a weekly roundup of sustainability news items relevant to the fashion, apparel, textile and related industries. The views and opinions expressed in the FSWIR by individual authors and/or media outlets cited do not necessarily reflect the position of GoBlu or any individual associated with the company.

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