ethicalconsumer

Workers’ Rights in the Fashion Industry

A Reflection on the International Workers’ Day

As today we commemorate International Workers’ Day once again, it prompts us to pause and reflect on the state of workers’ rights within the fashion industry. International Workers’ Day is synonymous with Labour Day, annual holidays to celebrate the achievements of workers.

Some facts about workers’ rights in the fashion industry:

1. “Luxury brands show poor efforts to reduce forced labour.” (source KnowTheChain). Specifically, KnowTheChain evaluated fashion companies’ adherence to International Labour Organization standards in their supply chain, establishment of internal responsibilities to address forced labour risks, support for worker empowerment, and implementation of programs to address forced labour allegations. So, companies received scores ranging from zero to 100, with the average fashion company scoring 21. Luxury companies rank second lowest in average score among all sub-sectors, making them particularly flagrant offenders.
In short, among the luxury companies assessed:
LVMH: 6 out of 100
Prada: 9 out of 100
Kering: 23 out of 100
Only seven out of 20 disclosed the complete first tier of their suppliers, including names and addresses.

2. Alviero Martini: under investigation for starving wages.

3. Giorgio Armani Operations: put into receivership for labour exploitation.  Workers in Chinese-run workshops paid 2-3 euros/day, judges say. Probe finds migrant workers eating, and sleeping in factories.

4. Zara and H&M‘s cotton suppliers: involved in land grabbing, illegal deforestation and human rights violations (source Earthsight). Also, this revelation is particularly alarming as it implicates Better Cotton, a certified sustainable cotton label.

5. Low wages made Bangladesh the second largest clothing exporter after China, developing a huge industry for the country. There are about four million garment workers, mostly women, whose wages are the lowest in the world. In addition, the inflation and the devaluation of the taka against the US dollar (30% from the beginning of 2023) created unsustainable conditions for workers. Specifically, garment workers in Bangladesh make clothes for large groups such as H&MZaraGapLevi’s, NextAsos, and New Look.

6. After the Jaba Garmindo factory bankruptcy in Indonesia, 2,000 Indonesian garment workers have fought for the $5.5 million legally owed in severance pay since 2015. The workers made clothes for Uniqlo and German fashion brand s.Oliver, among others. (source cleanclothes.org)

7. China is the biggest exporter of ready-made clothes, monopolising nearly 40% of the global garment industry. Driving China’s $187 billion garment trade are over 10 million garment workers. People who toil under oppressive and exploitative working conditions, mostly for high street brands. …While foreign brands’ business is booming, China bans the fundamental human right of workers to form and join independent trade unions. Driving a race to the bottom on wages and working conditions, brands expect low production prices and a compliant workforce and governments allow this along with factory owners out of fear of losing foreign business. Exploiting this arrangement is the Asian retail giant, UNIQLO. (source waronwant.org).

Conclusion: what about consumers’ role?

While we commemorate International Workers’ Day, we’re compelled to confront a shameful truth about workers’ rights in the fashion industry. In fact, workers are often regarded as nothing more than commodities that brands can exploit for their own profit. 

The absence of moral fabric within the industry is evident, as is the disregard shown by consumers who choose to ignore this issue despite the wealth of available information.

But why do people ignore human rights and still support these brands through their consumption choices?

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No Black Friday Manifesto

Towards a healthier lifestyle

No Black Friday Manifesto #formodernhumans
We are against the ‘shop and toss’ habit, impulsive buying, and overconsumption.
A way of life that is harming people and the planet to the point of no return.
Indeed, these are layers of a toxic profit-oriented society that wants to create fake needs for unsatisfied people.
Undoubtedly, this system could not thrive without using tricks to sell the massive overproduction at the base of its reckless structure.

On the contrary, we choose to educate ourselves on thoughtful consumption and a healthier lifestyle.

Quality andless but better’ represent the guiding values. In fact, modern humans are conscious consumers.

We respect people, and we understand the worth of their work.
We appreciate the products we select.
We value quality, and we value our customers.

Don’t buy pointless shit. Say no to Black Friday!

No Black Friday Manifesto


And once you are aware of how things are, let’s spread this consciousness together.

Please, share the No Black Friday Manifesto!

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