Friday, 3 May 2013

Supply chains enchaining low cost labour. Consumers need to question.

I have lifted this from Inside Retail because this is such an important issue with life-saving possibilities.
Retailers urged to disclose suppliers
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Retailers urged to disclose suppliers
Posted Date: 03/05/2013
By Inside Retail


Australian retailers Target, Myer, Just Group, Sportsgirl, and Kmart are being targeted by international aid agency Oxfam in the wake of Bangladesh's latest garment factory disaster.

According to Oxfam Australia, these retailers are just some of the big names working with contractors in Bangladesh; the world's second largest garment exporter outside China.

Oxfam is urging all Australian retailers to follow the lead of international brands like Nike, Adidas, and Puma, who disclose the locations of all their supplier factories globally.

"We urge Australian garment companies to take this next step in transparency and allow independent verification of conditions inside their factories," says Daisy Gardener, labour rights advocacy coordinator, Oxfam Australia.

According to information given to Inside Retail by the aid agency, Just Group, which owns Just Jeans, Jay Jay's, and Portmans, and Sportsgirl, Target, and Myer, have major suppliers in Bangladesh.

The retailers are connected with the unregulated market via Mac Group, a major sourcing agent for the local fashion industry that is based in Melbourne.

Oxfam says Mac Group is now one of the largest exporters to Australia from Bangladesh.

Target, Just Group, and Myer have also been connected to Li & Fung, another sourcing agent that has emphasized Bangladesh as a key centre of growth since 2011.
Last November, Li & Fung was connected with another devastating factory disaster in Bangladesh, where over 100 workers lost their lives in a fire while producing garments for Wal-Mart, the world's biggest retailer.

Pacific Brands is also in the spotlight to disclose it's supply chain. Although the majority of its products appear to be sourced in China, it also sources from Bangladesh, namely for Workwear Group.

“These big brands are operating behind a veil of secrecy. As factory locations are kept secret, there is no way of independently verifying that people are working in safe and decent conditions," says Gardener.

“Unfortunately, more than 17 years’ of research and experience has made it clear to Oxfam that sweatshop conditions are the norm in the global clothing industry throughout Asia, not the exception."

Last week's garment factory collapse outside Bangladesh's capital city, Dhaka, has officially killed almost 400 workers, with the final toll expected to reach over 1000.

Clothing destined for the stores of global retailers Primark, Benneton, and Mango, which is currently teaming up with local department store, David Jones, have since been found in the rubble.

British chain Primark has since said it will compensate the families of victims of the disaster and that it takes responsibility for any failures in its supply chain.

According to news reports, the factory's 2,500 workers were told to go to work the morning of the disaster, despite worrying cracks having appeared in the foundations of the large garment factory.

Rana Plaza's owner, Mohammed Sohel Rana, quickly disappeared as the building began to crumble, but was captured by local police on Sunday and charged with negligence.

Rana now faces up to seven years in jail, with his father also arrested on suspicion of aiding his son to force people to work in a dangerous building.

The widely publicised disaster has renewed calls from international organisations for an overhaul of the way retailers work with subcontractors globally, many whom allegedly work with unregulated factories in developing nations.

Tens of thousands of people joined May Day protests in Bangladesh this week, with reports some angry protesters in the last week have even tried to set fire to other garment factories.

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