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Urgent need to root out exploitation in garment industry - ITGLWF
Aug '11
The news that clothing for the Spanish multinational Inditex was being produced by illegal immigrants in appalling conditions in a Brazilian sweatshop should be a wake-up call for all brands and retailers sourcing in the country and wherever else subcontractors are being used, the global union representing garment workers said.

“Clearly Inditex needs to do more to implement its code of conduct and ensure that its suppliers are not subcontracting production without their prior authorisation”, says Laura Carter of the International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers' Federation.

“In reality, though, all brands and retailers who subcontract their production are vulnerable to abusive behaviour down the supply chain, and the situation is likely to be worse where uncontrolled subcontracting is permitted. At least Inditex placed a contractual obligation on suppliers to abide by a set of standards in their own premises and those of their subcontractors. Many other brands and retailers don't even properly control their direct suppliers let alone think about subcontractors.

“This week's revelations should prompt all brands and retailers to map their entire supply chain and review working conditions to ensure that every supplier and every subcontractor provides decent work.

“They should be insisting that subcontractors are used only in exceptional circumstances and after prior approval of each individual facility. They should be disclosing their entire supply chain, ensuring that sound industrial relations exist at each workplace and that workers have the right to organise and to bargain collectively. And if they are really serious about avoiding exploitative practices in their supply chains they should do business only with unionised workplaces.

“Finally, they need to commit to maintaining their supply base in countries where they are currently sourcing and stick with individual suppliers, working with them to bring them into compliance, only cutting orders when the supplier refuses to improve. In such extreme cases orders should be switched to other local suppliers willing to provide decent work”.

The International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers' Federation (ITGLWF), which has signed a Global Framework Agreement with Inditex, is looking to work with the multinational and with its affiliates in the country to stamp out exploitation in the company's Brazilian supply chain.

The International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers' Federation

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