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Report on working conditions in sportswear supply chains released
Apr '11
The Global Union representing workers in the garment industry has released a damning report on working conditions in Asian sportswear supply chains.

Says Patrick Itschert, General Secretary of the International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers' Federation (ITGLWF): “This report highlights how factories supplying multinational sports and garment brands, many of whom will be kitting out teams for the London 2012 Olympics, are routinely breaking every rule in the book when it comes to labour rights”.

The report focuses on conditions in 83 factories in Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Indonesia which together employ over 100,000 workers.

Through worker interviews and surveys researchers uncovered a litany of workers' rights abuses, including the widespread suppression of the human right to join or form a trade union by means of harassment, bribes, the failure to renew short-term contracts and even factory closure. In Indonesia the majority of trade union officials reported that they were denied the basic facilities to enable them to adequately perform their duties.

In Sri Lanka the Board of Investment promotes the use of Employee Councils as a form of worker representation, but the workers interviewed had no way of raising concerns at these Councils and unions expressed frustration that they are used to undermine true freedom of association.

Not one of the 83 factories surveyed was reported to pay a living wage, and workers in the Philippines explained that they were so destitute by the months' end they had no choice but to pawn their ATM cards in exchange for loans. Some factories denied workers the legal minimum wage, while others linked the payment of basic wages to unachievable production targets which workers struggled desperately to meet.

Although international labour standards restrict overtime to twelve hours a week on a voluntary basis, workers told researchers they regularly work up to 100 hours of overtime per month. In many cases workers could not refuse overtime. In Sri Lanka workers who tried to leave at the end of their shift were denied permission to go and harassed by their supervisors.

Contract, agency and other precarious workers, who comprised 25% of the workforces covered, were found to be particularly likely to suffer exploitation. Although these workers were paid even less than their permanent counterparts they told researchers they feared they would lose their job if they complained.

Concludes Mr. Itschert: “The multinational companies sourcing from these factories need to live up to their rhetoric and ensure that every single workplace in their supply chains complies with national law and international labour standards”.

Key findings of the report (based on research carried out in the final quarter of 2010):


Freedom of Association is widely suppressed by means of harassment, bribes, the failure to renew short-term contracts and even factory closure.

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