BRANDS AND RETAILERS
Chinese prisoners allegedly made products for H&M and C&A: [Ed’s note: this article from Quartz is a follow up to the allegations made in the Financial Times on 16 Feb – see article below. The article here includes a discussion on the ILO’s position on prison labour, and responses from H&M and C&A, which the Financial Times did not.] “H&M said, “To our knowledge, there have been no violations. But needless to say, we take the information published by the Financial Times very seriously.” … C&A responded to questions about Humprey’s account, saying, “We audit all 273 of our suppliers’ factories in China on at least annually basis, and have not observed or been made aware of the use of prison labor in our Chinese supply chain”” (21 Feb).
Global partners commit to develop a circular decision making tool for the fashion industry: “Global partners VF Corporation, … Orta Anadolu and Circle Economy commit to developing a circular decision-making tool for the fashion industry” (20 Feb). [Ed’s note: this initiative is supported by C&A Foundation.]
Virgin Trains zero waste initiative upcycles old uniforms to help homeless: “Virgin Trains has launched a zero waste to landfill initiative for its old uniforms and announced that old uniforms will now be recycled into bags, clothes and blankets for homeless people” (20 Feb).
Kering and London College of Fashion launch the world’s first open-access digital course in sustainable luxury fashion: “Kering and London College of Fashion, UAL (LCF), are launching the world’s first open-access digital course in luxury fashion and sustainability. Entitled “Fashion & Sustainability: Understanding Luxury Fashion in a Changing World”, the course aims to strengthen sustainability education in the luxury and fashion realms in order to promote the wider adoption of more sustainable practices” (20 Feb).
Fur protesters storm the Mary Katrantzou catwalk at London fashion week: “Mary Katrantzou’s autumn-winter 2018 show became a flashpoint for anti-fur protest groups on Sunday evening when one protester crashed the action on the catwalk. Shortly after the beginning of the show, a protester from SURGE, the UK non-profit animal rights organisation, broke onto the runway, parading alongside models and calling out, “Shame on you, London Fashion Week!” (19 Feb).
Allegations of C&A and H&M clothing made in Chinese prison: [Ed’s note: The Financial Times has published a written account by former corporate investigator Peter Humphrey, who was jailed in China for 23 months following his investigation into the 2013 GSK bribery scandal. The account centres on his life in jail, but he also made the following comment.] “The prison was a business, doing manufacturing jobs for companies. … I recognised well-known brands – 3M, C&A, H&M” (16 Feb). [Ed’s note: according to an article by NOS (the Dutch Broadcast Foundation, part of the Netherlands public broadcasting system), “C&A says in a statement … it takes the allegations “very seriously”. The company says it has no knowledge of clothing production in Chinese prisons and wants to find out if this is the case. “We do not tolerate forced labor in our production chain, or labor in prisons, and when we discover forced labor somewhere, the contract with the supplier is immediately terminated.” C&A says it checks the manufacturing facilities of its 273 Chinese suppliers at least annually and has employees who combat the use of illegal subcontractors. H&M and 3M have not yet responded to the reporting.” See here – in Dutch.]
Marie Claire lists best ethical fashion buys: [Ed’s note: from the UK edition.] Toms, Dagny, Rêve En Vert, Stella McCartney, Finisterre, ASOS, H&M, I AND ME, Kings of Indigo, Primark, Fat Face, Taino, Hot as Hell, Minna, Mirabelle, Monsoon, New Balance, Pachacuti, People Tree, Sea Salt, Tales of Thread, Patagonia, Edun, Beaumont Organic, Beyond Skin, Matt & Nat, Chinti & Parker, and Veja (16 Feb).
Richard Malone does ethics by showing exciting fashion: “Was there ever a time when sustainable fashion was in its own special lane for ecologically worthy but slightly meh clothes? When dressing eco-consciously equated with garments the color and texture of wholemeal wheat? Well, look at the colorful, cheerfully chic energy of Richard Malone’s collection and know there’s a change coming: a new generation that does its ethics by showing exciting fashion – almost forgetting to speak about the good practices by which it abides” (16 Feb). [Ed’s note: in this article, Vogue notices the sublimation of sustainable practices, as something barely worth noting or highlighting because – as Malone says – “sustainability is a given for the brand.”]
Topshop and M&S urged to follow Tesco and Primark in pledging to protect factory workers: “Topshop, Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury’s and Debenhams are among some of Britain’s best known brands yet to sign a new legally binding agreement to protect garment makers in Bangladesh, according to labour rights campaigners who have described the situation as “disappointing”. While John Lewis and Tesco have both become signatories to the 2018 Bangladesh Accord in recent weeks, many other British retailers are lagging behind despite pleas from unions and campaigners” (16 Feb).
G-Star RAW launches the most sustainable denim ever: “After years of analyzing every facet of the denim production chain, G-Star has developed techniques and technologies that significantly reduce, if not eliminate in some aspects, the environmental impact of creating a pair of jeans” (15 Feb).
Timberland’s Eco-Love Survey: “[A]ccording to new survey findings from Timberland, individuals practicing eco-conscious behaviors could have a better chance of scoring a date than those who don’t. In its 2018 Eco-Love Survey, the outdoor lifestyle brand revealed that four-in-five Americans find it attractive when someone partakes in sustainable practices” (14 Feb). [Ed’s note: you can see a fact sheet on the survey from Timberland here.]
Birkenstock voted most vegan-friendly footwear brand in the world: “Germany’s largest footwear manufacturer, Birkenstock, famous for its signature sandals, has received the Libby Award “Most Vegan-Friendly Shoe Company 2017” from PETA USA’s youth wing, Peta2” (14 Feb).
Primark’s Global Sourcing Map emphasises the importance of brand transparency: “Primark’s decision to publish a Global Sourcing Map to its website is part of an ongoing journey of supply chain transparency, and a reflection that there is a greater appetite amongst retailers to collaborate on societal and environmental issues” (14 Feb).
Marc Jacobs hit by animal cruelty protest at final show of NYFW: “Marc Jacobs’ closing show of New York Fashion Week traditionally comes with drama and controversy. Wednesday’s was no different, as animal rights protesters massed at the Armory. … “Marc Jacobs, shame on you,” the chorus of anti-animal cruelty protesters were shouting. “Only assholes wear fur!” A PETA-branded placard read: “Wear your own skin” (14 Feb).
CanopyStyle initiative has 20 new companies: “The 20 new companies will eliminate the use of endangered forests in their textile supply chain by 2020. With the addition of companies zLabels, MQ Retail, Koala, TAMGA Designs and Spell & The Gypsy Collective, the CanopyStyle initiative has now surpassed 125 brand partners representing over $134 billion in annual revenue” (13 Feb).
H&M digs deeper into sustainability in new Conscious Exclusive collection: “H&M is launching this spring a new Conscious Exclusive collection, featuring accessories made from discarded candlesticks and a white lace wedding dress crafted from regenerated fishnet fibre” (13 Feb).
Four apparel industry-related companies make new ethical ranking: “Since 2007, Ethisphere has honored the World’s Most Ethical Companies who recognize their critical role to influence and drive positive change in the business community and societies around the world and work to maximize their impact wherever possible. In 2018, 135 companies are being honored from 23 countries and 57 industries.” In the list this year are: Eastman (chemicals and fibres), Marks & Spencer, VF, and Connor (William E. Connor & Associates, a Hong Kong-headquartered sourcing company active in the fashion, garment and apparel sector) (12 Feb).
Fashion-related companies in Barron’s 100 Most Sustainable Companies: US financial information magazine Barron’s has published its first ranking of the most sustainable companies in the US. Included are: Target (31), PVH (37), VF (43), Macy’s (59) Avery Dennison (72), and Nordstrom (95) (03 Feb).
REPORTS, GUIDELINES AND STANDARDS
Model Guidelines on Government Measures to Prevent Trafficking for Labour Exploitation in Supply Chains: The OCSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) Office of the Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings has published “model guidelines … to provide a practical tool to assist OSCE participating States and Partners for Co-operation to implement concrete measures to prevent trafficking in human beings in supply chains. It highlights how States can implement legislation and policies that promote transparency to ensure that public supply chains are free from trafficked labour; and promote the fair and ethical recruitment of workers” (Feb 18).
Garment Worker Diaries reveal struggle for low-income female garment workers: “The year-long Garment Worker Diaries project gives the most comprehensive picture yet of the living and working conditions faced by female garment workers in Bangladesh, Cambodia and India” (20 Feb). [Ed’s note: from Microfinance Opportunities (MFO) and Fashion Revolution (and funded by C&A Foundation), Garment Worker Diaries is the result of interviews with 450 workers at their homes. In the case of Bangladesh, “there was significant evidence to suggest that the more they worked the less they earned. Outside of work, men controlled earnings [which] were spent on basics like food and rent and rarely improved a household’s quality of life.” Click the link in the headline to see all three reports.]
Buckingham Palace opens its doors to sustainable fashion: “The Duchess of Cambridge hosted a reception at Buckingham Palace on Monday evening to celebrate The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange” (19 Feb). [Ed’s note: see more here from Vogue.]
Partnership for supply chain due diligence: “The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) and the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles [have] announced a strategic cooperation that will contribute to better working conditions and increased environmental protection across global textile supply chains. Both parties have signed a letter of intent expressing their ambition to align requirements, tools, and verification systems. In addition, joint member companies can make use of joint activities and shared information in the future” (19 Feb).
Four ways to ensure sustainable fashion is here to stay: i) Clarity; ii) planning for endings (waste and recycling); iii) make smarter use of fashion tech; and iv) rethink the business model (16 Feb).
Not easy being green: Dilys Williams talks sustainability and fashion: “Although progress has been made, there’s a still a long road ahead, says [Professor Dilys Williams] founder and director the Centre for Sustainable Fashion (16 Feb).
Real vs. Plastic: Is natural fur” sustainable”? “Mark Oaten of the International Fur Federation talks to WWD about the sustainability of fur and misconceptions about the fur industry: MO: To me it makes no sense to use a product [faux fur] full of chemicals and plastics when you can have a natural and biodegradable fashion like real fur” (16 Feb).
London Fashion Week protested by PETA activists: “London Fashion Week was protested by topless women in the UK’s capital city [last week]. The group of eight half-naked women chose to lose their tops in a bid to protest against the use of fur and leather in the fashion industry” (16 Feb). [Ed’s note: see also The women behind the topless protest from PETA UK, Anti-fur groups target London Fashion Week, and Anti-fur protesters cause mayhem at London Fashion Week show (which mentions Christopher Kane and Burberry).]
London Fashion Week and clothes made from recycled plastic: “Two designers at London Fashion Week say their clothes made from plastic bottles and sustainable wool have a "political message". Vin and Omi say it’s almost impossible for low-cost high street clothes to be ethical” (16 Feb).
US gives three East African states ultimatum to reverse used clothing ban: “East African nations that are en-route to banning the importation of used clothes may soon pay the price after Washington said it will impose trade penalties in retaliation to what it sees as a blockage of free trade” (15 Feb).
‘Responsible down’ committee blasted for secrecy, failing to protect animals: [Ed’s note: press release from PETA.] “PETA withdraws from workgroup that’s more interested in protecting companies than ducks and geese. After learning that the Textile Exchange’s (TE) misleadingly named Responsible Down Standard (RDS) International Working Group (IWG) Charter requires a confidentiality agreement and allows discussions to be off the record, PETA sent a letter today to TE and dozens of global retailers who sit on the IWG calling foul on the shady lack of transparency and withdrawing its participation in the group” (15 Feb).
Tech startup gives workers the tools to report supply chain slavery: [Ed’s note: the article contains a reflection worth pondering.] “While technology can play an important role in protecting vulnerable workers and preventing abuses, it should not be seen as a "silver bullet", said the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI). “Some software platforms may well improve traceability and transparency, and be a useful mechanism to flag risk,” said Cindy Berman, head of modern slavery strategy at ETI, a group of trade unions, firms and charities promoting workers’ rights. “But resolving workplace grievances or rights violations cannot lie with technology”” (15 Feb).
New research report offers insight into ESG risks facing 10 sectors: “ Sustainalytics, a provider of ESG and corporate governance research, ratings and analytics, [last week] released a new thematic research report titled, 10 for 2018: ESG Risks on the Horizon. … Select apparel firms are moving their production facilities to Africa due to wage increases and mounting scrutiny over working conditions in Asia. Sustainalytics assesses 117 firms on their supply chain standards and management practices given they are crucial to sustainably expand into new regions where local labor issues are sensitive. Based on 10 companies from the sample, H&M demonstrates leadership toward improving supply chain management and transparency” (15 Feb).
An eco-London fashion week: “Cleaner, brighter, greener! The … London Fashion Week five-day season kick[ed] off Friday morning; with a major drive to turns things ever more ecological … Leading the eco move is the British Fashion Council Positive Fashion initiative” (15 Feb). [Ed’s note: The British Fashion Council Positive Fashion initiative Fashion SWITCH to Green is encouraging apparel brands to switch to a green energy supplier by 2020, to which Belstaff, Christopher Raeburn, E.Tautz, Harvey Nichols, Kering, Marks & Spencer, Oliver Spencer, Selfridges, Stella McCartney and Vivienne Westwood have committed.]
Tech startup gives workers the tools to report supply chain slavery: Thomson Reuters Foundation reports “[g]iving staff the tools to report workplace abuses, including forced labor, should improve data for brands that are striving to ensure their products are slavery-free, a tech startup [called Ulula] said” (15 Feb).
New solution for textile waste launches: Circle Economy’s first Fiberstorted materials are now commercially available with the launch last week of the Fibersort (“a technology able to automatically sort large volumes of mixed post-consumer textiles based on fiber composition”). “The Fibersort project partners Circle Economy, Valvan Baling Systems, Reshare, Procotex, Worn Again, and Smart Fibersorting are working with industry stakeholders to better understand end-markets for sorted textiles, optimise the machine and validate the business case” (15 Feb).
How a new generation of designers is changing the face of eco-fashion – at last: “Eco-friendly fashion might have a worthy reputation, but a new generation of pioneers is set to change that. And not a moment too soon” (15 Feb).
My fashion life – Livia Firth: [Ed’s note: the article in an interview with Livia Firth.] ““[Question] If you could write an open letter to brands and designers who want to make positive changes and they don’t know where to start, what would you advise?” [Livia Firth] “I would say don’t stop having curiosity about your supply chain. The people who make the clothes matter. Designers are under so much pressure to produce faster and faster and the first thing they lose is that connection. There’s a production department, there are people who go and source the material – once that happens you lose control of your supply chain. Put the positive environmental and social impact in balance with your production. You would be surprised how many designers have not been to the factory where their clothes are made” (15 Feb).
What does good fashion look like? ““The good in fashion is not a judgement. We approach it through five pillars – good materials, good lives, good water, good energy, good economy,” said Jessica Radparvar of Fashion for Good. Principles of a circular economy are central to each of the pillars” (15 Feb).
HSBC on sustainability initiatives and ‘investment fashion’: “Kelly W. Fisher discusses HSBC’s work in the apparel sector, effective sustainability practices and tactics for supply chain transparency” (15 Feb – free subscription required to read article).
Evaluation of the Better Mills Initiative: “In 2013, the international network organisation Solidaridad, in partnership with C&A, H&M and other leading fashion brands launched the Better Mills Initiative (BMI) in response to an environmental push in the apparel industry. The initiative, co-funded by C&A Foundation, aimed to empower textile mills in China to clean up their production processes and improve their sustainability in a climate of tightened environmental legislation. Recently, C&A Foundation evaluated the initiative to measure if mills did in fact improve their environmental impact. The results of the six-month study show that a difference can be made going forward” (14 Feb). [Ed’s note: you can download the lessons note or the full report.]
Man-made fibres getting popular among Bangladesh garment manufacturers: “The import of man-made fibres such as polyester staple, viscose, and [T]encel is on the rise as a substitute for cotton as their demand is increasing amid changes in global fashion trend” (14 Feb).
Textile Exchange investigates aligning wool and meat standards: “Textile Exchange’s international wool assurance system, the Responsible Wool Standard, is investigating alignment with a global sheep meat standard (14 Feb).
Forgotten no more: a new move to protect women in the fashion industry’s supply chain: [Ed’s note: an article about C&A Foundation’s work in the fashion supply chain assisting women.] “One grantmaker on the case is the U.K.-based C&A Foundation, the charitable arm of the international retail clothing chain C&A. As we’ve reported, the funder supports initiatives to improve the fashion industry by creating more transparency in the industry’s supply chains” (14 Feb).
Reach-restricted substances still widespread in European products, says ECHA report: “An investigation into the composition of consumer products in Europe carried out by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) revealed that nearly a fifth of items surveyed contained materials that are restricted under Reach legislation … 13% of tested leather articles contained chromium VI … 17% of the products in breach of ECHA rules originated from China” (13 Feb). [Ed’s note: you can read the full ECHA report here.]
Decent work for women migrant workers: The ILO has published three useful policy briefs drawing lessons from their Work in Freedom project to reduce trafficking and forced labour among women and girls in garments and textiles. The reports stress the importance of responsible business conduct and sensible reporting. The three briefs are: Policy brief debunking common myths in the garment, textile and footwear sector, Lessons learned from the WIF programme, and Policy brief on recruitment practices and regulations to garment work (13 Feb).
ILO reports important progress on child labour and forced labour in Uzbek cotton fields: “Monitoring team finds strong political will from central government to end fundamental labour rights’ violations during the 2017 cotton harvest: Child labour is no longer an issue, while forced labour is being systematically addressed” (13 Feb).
Clothing industry set to consume a quarter of the global carbon supply by 2050: “The Ellen MacArthur Foundation [is hoping] to reverse the hyper-consumption that is currently promoted in fashion – an industry on track to consume a quarter of the global carbon supply by 2050 – and to recast the whole clothing supply chain into a system based on balanced consumption and less-intensive production methods” (13 Feb).
Millennials mean well but fall short as eco-fashionistas, says study: “Much has been made of millennials’ supposed dedication to sustainable brands but, according to a new study from LIM College, a fashion product’s eco-friendliness may be far from their first consideration when making purchases” (13 Feb). [Ed’s note: a survey by LIM College professors Robert Conrad and Dr. Kenneth M. Kambara found “only 34% of those millennials surveyed reported that they are driven to make a fashion purchase because the apparel or accessory was eco-friendly and sustainably-produced. This compares with 95% for ease of purchase, 95% for price/value, 92% for uniqueness, and 60% for the brand name of the product as factors in making their fashion purchase decisions.” See more here.]
University study suggests compliance with labor standards benefits companies: “The study, [forthcoming] in the American Journal of Political Science, shows that on average, factories that enforce basic labor and environmental standards benefit from a $1.6 million increase in annual purchases. Furthermore, when factories improved their compliance, their orders increased by an average of four percentage points, which roughly translates to $110,000. … These findings were especially “pronounced in the apparel sector,” which faces more social pressure from consumers to comply with labor and environmental standards than others” (12 Feb). [Ed’s note: the study in question will be published as “Does Compliance Pay? Social Standards and Firm-level Trade,” by Greg Distelhorst and Richard M. Locke. Although forthcoming, you can read an online version courtesy of Professor Distelhorst here. The article abstract states: “What is the relationship between trade and social institutions in the developing world? The research literature is conflicted: importing firms may demand that trading partners observe higher labor and environmental standards, or they may penalize higher standards that raise costs. This study uses new data on retailers and manufacturers to analyze how firm-level trade responds to information about social standards. Contrary to the “race to the bottom” hypothesis, it finds that retail importers reward exporters for complying with social standards. In difference-in-differences estimates from over two thousand manufacturing establishments in 36 countries, achieving compliance is associated with a 4% [1%, 7%] average increase in annual purchasing. The effect is driven largely by the apparel industry—a longterm target of anti-sweatshop social movements—suggesting that activist campaigns can shape patterns of global trade.]
Open letter from WRAP on Plastic Waste and Recycling Strategy: “Secretary of State for the Environment, Michael Gove, recently invited WRAP to facilitate a series of cross-sector discussions to inform how the UK could respond and reduce the environmental damage caused by the way we use and dispose of plastic” (12 Feb). [Ed’s note: WRAP will focus on plastic packaging as it accounts for around 70% of plastic waste in the UK.]
IAF releases position statements: The International Apparel Federation (IAF) “has approved a series of IAF position statements on a number of global issues that are crucial for the positive development of the apparel industry. … to unite all stakeholders of the fashion and apparel industry, including brands, retailers, manufacturers, suppliers and country associations from around the world to enable and promote smarter, stronger, more sustainable supply chains” (12 Feb). [Ed’s note: you can see the full position statements here.]
New signatories join SLCP: The Social & Labor Convergence Project (SLCP), an initiative led by the world’s leading manufacturers, brands, retailers, industry groups, (inter)governmental organizations, service providers and civil society organizations, has secured more than 100 signatories in the year since it launched. … New signatories include the American Apparel & Footwear Association, lululemon … and Sri Lankan apex body [Joint Apparel Association Forum] JAAF” [ (08 Feb).
Eight sustainability trends that will define 2018: University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL). (2018, January). Eight sustainability trends that will define 2018. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership: 2. “Sustainability to shape the face of business: Growing public consciousness of sustainability issues and political leadership gaps will increasingly open the way for business to step up to the challenge of sustainability leadership, and either lead, adapt or fail; 6. The end of an era for plastics: Packaging is set to be key battleground in addressing the environmental impacts of business on oceans, land and air” (Jan 18).
Swazi union condemns garment company for not respecting workers’ rights: “Management at Tex Ray companies in Swaziland are thwarting workers’ rights, including the right to freedom of association and to collective bargaining, by pushing for a sham union trying to organize members of IndustriALL Global Union affiliate, the Amalgamed Trade Union of Swaziland (ATUSWA)” (20 Feb). [Ed’s note: Tex Ray is a Taiwan-based company manufacturing dyed yarn, woven fabrics and garments.]
Activists allege plan to scuttle green monitoring of industrial areas in Indian city: “Environmental activists have written to the prime minister’s office and the ministry of environment & forests, alleging that some officials of government agencies and industrialists were trying to jeopardize the ongoing environmental monitoring of industrial areas in and around [Surat] by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) (18 Feb). [Ed’s note: the area in question is home to numerous textile-related manufacturers, including dyeing and printing houses, and weaving and yarn spinning units.]
OrganoClick introduces OrganoTex for water repellency: “OrganoClick has since several years supplied biodegradable industrial impregnation products for textiles under the brand OrganoTex. OrganoTex will now be launched as a textile impregnation product for consumers used for making garments and fabrics water repellent. The products will be sold as a Spray-On product that is applied by hand or as a Wash-In product that is applied in a washing machine” (17 Feb).
Eco friendly Canepa textiles presented at Première Vision: Based on its patented SAVEtheWATER Kitotex manufacturing process, Canepa’s latest line shown at French trade fair “drastically reduce[s] toxic substances for the environment and water consumption in the manufacturing processes of weaving yarn” (16 Feb).
Japanese energy-saving initiative for Bangladeshi factories: “The Japanese International Co-operation Agency is offering textile manufacturers in Bangladesh a loan programme to support the purchase and adoption of energy-saving technology” (16 Feb – subscription required to read full article).
PET recycling up in Europe after China import ban: “New research has highlighted a growth in the capacity of European plastic recyclers, providing a boost to manufacturers of fibres derived from recycled PET. The latest figures provide some optimism for the sector following the uncertainty instigated by the Chinese government’s decision to ban the import of plastics from abroad” (15 Feb – subscription required to read full article).
Roica stretch fibre certified as Gold-level for Material Health: Asahi Kasei’s Roica – a premium stretch fibre – has received a Cradle to Cradle Gold-level Material Health certificate (15 Feb).
Bangladesh Government and the Ramisa Group mull PPP ‘textile village’: “[The] Ramisa Group has proposed … a "textile village” on 28 acres of land belonging to Tangail Cotton Mills under Bangladesh Textile Mills Corporation (BTMC) through a public-private partnership (PPP) initiative. … the project was envisaged to be a composite textile mill having facilities for production of yarn, spinning, dyeing, sizing, weaving, washing, finishing and garments making” (14 Feb).
Female employees fast tracked from line workers to supervisors: “Bangladeshi garment company DBL Group are supporting career progression of its female employees through an accelerated leadership training programme. They share their experience of implementing the programme and the positive impact it’s had on both female employees and the business” (09 Feb).
THE SUPPLY CHAIN
Bangladesh Alliance factories completing upgrades 14 Feb to 21 Feb: Bando Fashions Ltd., Denim Plus (BD) Ltd., Zakmars Fashion Ltd., Campex (BD) Ltd., Raj Washing Plant Ltd., Winsome Fashion Wear Ltd., Simba Fashion Ltd., Standard Stitches Ltd. (Woven Unit), and Geebee (Bangladesh) Ltd. (21 Feb). [Ed’s note: this list is gleaned from the Bangladesh Alliance Twitter feed.]
Global unions, international human rights and workers’ rights organizations call for end to politically motivated prosecution of Tola Moeun: “Four global unions and more than 30 national and international human rights and worker rights NGOs from around the world have joined together to call for an end to the politically motivated prosecution of Cambodian human rights defender Tola Moeun” (19 Feb).
Factory owners to be sued if they flee Cambodia: “Senior officials from the Ministry of Labour confirmed on Monday that employers who run away from their factories will face lawsuits after some unions complained that many employers leave the country without compensating their employees” (19 Feb). [Ed’s note: this article notes the result of an ongoing case of employer flight – involving Yu Fa Garment Industry, Yu Da Garment Industry and S.R.E Garment Company – with 700 workers from Yu Da and S.R.E. receiving 65 per cent of owed wages after selling machinery from the shuttered factories.]
Motivated workers lead workplace improvements in Chinese garment factory: “Huasheng Garments Co Ltd., a factory in China’s Zhejing Province, has a fresh look, thanks to SCORE Training. Employees now enjoy a cleaner working environment, higher morale and more harmonious working relationships” (19 Feb). [Ed’s note: The ETI-ILO SCORE project began in February 2017 and will run until February 2019 with funding from Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).]
Bring Bangladesh EPZ unit inspections under labour inspectorate: “An expert committee of International Labour Organisation has recently urged the government to bring the draft of Export Processing Zones Labour Act in line with the ILO conventions to provide equal rights of freedom of association to all workers and bring the EPZs within the purview of the labour inspectorate” (19 Feb). [Ed’s note: see also, ILO panel once again calls for a robust labour law (16 Feb).]
Bangladeshi apparel workers get low wages in Mauritius, Jordan: “Apparel workers from Bangladesh are paid relatively low wages in Mauritius and Jordan compared to their Sri Lankan and Indian compatriots. Bangladeshis are also provided with poorer accommodation facilities though they are required to work more and are not paid for the overtime they put in” (18 Feb).
Automation threatens jobs for garment workers in Bangladesh: “Mohammadi Group Managing Director Rubana Huq says her company’s garment factories have replaced about 500 workers with machines and may replace more as part of a growing industry trend toward automation … “It doesn’t make sense for us to slow ourselves down” by not automating, said Huq, whose company provides apparels to H&M, Zara and other Western brands.Even a few years ago hundreds of workers were standing at the Mohammadi Fashion Sweaters Ltd in Dhaka. But in 2012, the owners began phasing out labour. In 2017 the knitting process became fully automated. Now the factory has only a few dozen workers overseeing 173 knitting machines” (17 Feb).
Striking garment workers in Myanmar return to work after deal: “Nearly 200 garment factory workers on Wednesday [last week] returned to work after the management agreed to fulfill some of their demands, worker leaders and factory executives [from] One of Front garment factory [said] … The management agreed that the company will not be rude to workers, is willing to hire a local supervisor instead of a foreigner, will repay reduced wages and remove CCTV cameras from the ladies toilets … factory management declined to rehire the workers’ leader who was sacked on February 1” (16 Feb).
Indian union appeals to global brands over fair wages, jobs: Thomson Reuters Foundation reports “[a]n Indian trade union has asked 130 global garment brands for help in a dispute with [Avery Dennison] in a rare move by workers that campaigners say spotlights an unmapped part of the supply chain” (15 Feb).
Trail of workers’ suicides and deaths in South India’s textile spinning mills: “In the latest incident, on 6 February Dharshini Balasubramani’s body was found in the hostel at Dollar Spinning mills in Tamil Nadu” (15 Feb). [Ed’s note: the article is from trade union IndustriALL.]
Union reps in Cambodia charged for ‘organising illegal strike’: “Four union leaders from the Workers Friendship Union Federation (WFUF) who were arrested on Monday [last week] were charged and sent to prison [on Wednesday 14 Feb] for allegedly organising an illegal strike … Two of the unionists at Cosmo Textile Co, Ltd, … were dismissed last Thursday after allegedly failing to stamp their attendance cards five days in a row, and went on strike inside the factory the following day” (15 Feb).
Bangladesh Government eases conditions of trade unionism: “The percentage of workers whose consent is required for forming trade unions in garment factories will be brought down from 30 to 25, a government move apparently resulting from pressure from international communities” (15 Feb). [Ed’s note: see also this earlier story, ILO finds govt step on membership threshold for trade union inadequate: “An ILO expert committee has expressed its dissatisfaction over the recent labour law amendment proposals by the Bangladesh government, saying that the proposal of minor reduction in the minimum membership requirements would not contribute to the free establishment of workers’ organisations in a large number of enterprises in the country” (09 Feb).]
GMAC asks for delay on truck ban: “The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) has appealed to Prime Minister Hun Sen to delay a crackdown on oversized trucks, which has already forced more than half of the vehicles serving the garment industry off of the roads since it was called for by the premier on Friday [last week]” (15 Feb). [Ed’s note: see also, Hun Sen orders crackdown on overloaded trucks: “Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday ordered a crackdown on overloaded and modified trucks, threatening to fire officials who let drivers off easy and to imprison drivers who protest” (12 Feb).]
Workers protest wage arrears owed by shoe factory in China: Workers have protested wage arrears owed by shoe factory in Gaomi, Shandong. Three photographs of the protest available here – in Chinese (15 Feb).
MPA Rauf Siddiqui, nine others indicted in Baldia factory fire case: “An antiterrorism court indicted on Wednesday Muttahida Qaumi Movement lawmaker Rauf Siddiqui and nine others in the Baldia factory fire case. Over 250 workers were burnt alive when a multistorey garment factory was set on fire in Baldia Town in September 2012” (14 Feb).
Union in Ghana calls for 50 per cent reduction of utilities: In Ghana, “the Textile, Garment and Leather Employees Union (TEGLU) is demanding a 50% reduction in prices of utilities to save the sector from total collapse” (14 Feb).
Bangladesh plans more labour courts: “[The] Government has chalked out a plan to set up two labour courts in Sylhet and Rangpur – taking the total number to nine. State Minister for Labour Md Mujibul Haque … revealed, “We struck a deal with investors that trade unions would not be allowed in EPZs. The Workers Welfare Association was set up later. Now, a separate law for EPZ, in line with the international labour law, is underway”” (14 Feb).
European MPs expect ‘less confrontation, hostility’ in coming months from Bangladesh: “[A European Parliamentary delegation] welcomed progress related to the Sustainability Compact, but recalled that a number of relevant issues in that context remain pending, notably in the area of labour rights. The MEPs recalled the need to fully align the Labour Act and the EPZ Labour Act with ILO standards, in particular Conventions No. 87 and 98 on freedom of association and collective bargaining” (14 Feb).
Cambodian committee on factory faintings convenes for first time: “A new committee to prevent mass faintings met [last week] for the first time, [releasing] statistics on mass faintings, which show that after a drop in 2016 the number of workplace faintings shot back up last year, to 1,603 in 22 factories. From the start of this year until February 11, 342 workers have fainted in two factories” (13 Feb). [Ed’s note: see also Committee to probe factory faintings, 14 Feb.]
Train Bangladesh garment workers to save their jobs amid automation, say experts: “Bangladesh should train its garment workers to improve their skills as 80 percent of them could lose jobs in the next 15 years due to automation, said fashion experts yesterday” (13 Feb).
‘Housing for all’ means nothing for India’s migrant workers: “Earning less than a living wage, migrant workers resort to living in the open, in shared and cramped rented rooms, or within the workplace” (11 Feb). [Ed’s note: the article makes special reference to garment processing units.]
Third power loom worker dies in 15 days in India, protests break out: “A power loom owner was booked for murder on Thursday [8 Feb], a day after a labourer was found dead inside the factory’s premises in Kasba Road in Muradnagar [Uttar Pradesh]. The body of Ravinder (40) was found in a storehouse in the power loom” (09 Feb).
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