NEWSLETTER FASHION & SUSTAINABILITY NO. 8 | 14.5.2012

Highlights from our Newsletter Fashion, Textile & Sustainability No. 8 (PDF version):

  • A couple of days ago all eyes turned to Copenhagen, as the Fashion Summit converted the Danish Capital into the hub of the eco-fashion-world. Now the dust has settled, we give our readers a brief overview about the main issues of the conference. To connect the dots and see what the buzz is all about we asked the Berlin based author Maik Günther for an exclusive article about the Nordic Initiative, Clean, and Ethical (NICE). You’ll find his controversial insider-view below and on our blog.
  • The London Olympics forshadow on the most diverse areas. Sad but true it comes as no revelation, that sportswear brands entering the public limelight belie their high promises regarding business ethics, sustainability and fair labour. So in the upcoming months each of us might not only talk about records in football stadiums and on Olympic grounds, but as well put the business models and their worldwide effects that sponser these events and keep the games going in mind of his environment. (Nevertheless we’re looking forward to celebrate all the sportive successes this summer might bring.)
  • P. Sainath accused the Times of India of arbitrarily downplaying the negative effects of BT cotton. P. Sainath writes for The Hindu and he is an expert for rural development.
  • Unsurprisingly Springer-paper „Die Welt“ and liberal weekly „Der Spiegel“ took up different positions on the personnel policy of German discounter Aldi. We show you both of their standpoints in our Brands section.
  • Last but not least: A short & brilliant aricle on how ancient Greek philosophers could postively influence our modern business life by Jules Evans.

Enjoy the newsletter!

Please right-click on the links.

Kind regards,

NETZWERK FAIRE MODE & KERN KOMMUNIKATION

PS Please note that below you only find literal quotes from the articles. If you like an article, we recommend to follow the links behind the orange titles.

1.   CSR & SUSTAINABILITY

The truth about shareholder primacy

Gordon Pearson for the Guardian Professional Network, 27.4.2012

In his interview with Guardian Sustainable Business, Unilever’s Polman calls on business leaders, politicians and NGOs to recognise they cannot deal with the world’s environmental and social challenges by pursuit of Milton Friedman‘s target of maximising shareholder wealth.

… Polman names a few other companies who are moving in that same direction, and suggests their numbers are growing. … “Why,” he asks, “would you invest in a company which is out of synch with the needs of society, that does not take its social compliance in its supply chain seriously, that does not think about the costs of externalities, or of its negative impacts on society?” Sadly, the answer is simple and obvious: to make a quick buck. … The world – business leaders, politicians, academics, and even the people in the street – have come to believe that it is the legal duty of those who run businesses to maximise the wealth of shareholders, and to hell with everything else.

Wachstumskritische Unternehmen. Vielen Dank, dass Sie nicht bei uns kaufen

Der Spiegel, 14.5.2012

Können es sich Firmen leisten, auf Wachstum zu verzichten? Erste Unternehmer und Ökonomen basteln jedenfalls an einer “Postwachstumsökonomie”. Ein Betrieb aus Baden-Württemberg zeigt, wie das in der Praxis funktionieren könnte – und welche Kunden man dazu braucht.

What can business leaders learn from ancient Greek philosophers?

Jules Evans for the Guardian Professional Network, 4.5.2012

To help achieve “the good life” companies can learn from the techniques used by Greek philosophers. Jules Evans explores seven that could help employees live their lives better

2.   WORKING CONDITIONS

Patchy record at garment factories on allowing worker unions – apparel sector study

Sri Lanka Times, Thursday, 12 April 2012 21:43

Whilst Sri Lanka’s relatively easy integration into the global political economy’s ‘ethical turn’ should be acknowledged, it is also important to register that its record continues to be patchy – particularly in the realm of a living wage and in thwarting workers’ freedom to associate and collectively bargain, a study on Sri Lanka’s apparel sector says.

… Although management interviews placed great value on welfare councils as giving workers the chance to voice concerns about their work, the field diaries of this research has suggested skepticism at the effectiveness of Workers Councils. “The ability of the workers councils to offer a space for democratic representation of workers was brought to the fore, with the view that management was not taking their complaints seriously. Thus its potential to change working conditions was deemed as relatively limited.” …

  • [PDF] Ethical Codes: Reality and Rhetoric – A Study of Sri Lanka’s Apparel Sector

3.   COTTON and other fibres

Reaping gold through cotton, and newsprint

The Hindu, P. Sainath, 10.5.2012

Three and a half years ago, at a time when the controversy over the use of genetically modified seeds was raging across India, a newspaper story painted a heartening picture of the technology’s success. “There are no suicides here and people are prospering on agriculture. The switchover from the conventional cotton to Bollgard or Bt Cotton here has led to a social and economic transformation in the villages [of Bhambraja and Antargaon] in the past three-four years.” (Times of India, October 31, 2008). So heartening was this account that nine months ago, the same story was run again in the same newspaper, word for word. (Times of India, August 28, 2011). Never mind that the villagers themselves had a different story to tell.

“There have been 14 suicides in our village,” a crowd of agitated farmers in Bhambraja told shocked members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture in March this year. “Most of them after Bt came here.” The Hindu was able to verify nine that had occurred between 2003 and 2009. Activist groups count five more since then.

  • Reaping gold through Bt Cotton, Snehlata Shrivastav, TNN Aug 28, 2011

  • The Times of India response, 10.5.2012: ‘This was not paid news but editorial coverage’

4.   TRANSPARENCY

Beyond Surveys & Rankings: Can Transparency Improve CSR Results?

CSR Wire, 4.5.2012

The demand for more transparency is clear. But are rankings helping or offering yet another marketplace for greenwashing?

… Do Consumers Care for Transparency? One survey of consumer attitudes toward corporate citizenship – 25,000 people in 26 countries – found that more consumers form their impression of a company on the basis of its corporate citizenship practices than they do on brand reputation or financial factors. Moreover, a majority said their view of a company was influenced by factors including labor practices, business ethics, responsibility to society, and the company’s environmental impact. …

… Connecting Consumers with the Long Term View. Rather than focusing on moving the sales needle as a result of publicizing CSR, it may be more important to consider the intangible benefit earned over time – building public trust in the company’s efforts to do the right thing. As Clare Melford, CEO of the International Business Leaders Forum, wrote recently in The Guardian, companies must become more transparent and accountable when it comes to ethics and corporate policies to rebuild trust.

Tough EU transparency laws could change lives in resource-rich Congo

The Guardian, Joseph Banga, Bishop from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 30.4.2012

New EU legislation introducing mandatory transparency for multinational companies could do a lot to help billions living in poverty in resource-rich countries. It could contribute to turning their natural resource wealth from a curse to a blessing if approved in its current form, but it would fail to make a difference if it is watered down.

5.   STANDARDS & CERTIFICATES

Global Recycle Standard update

Oecotextiles Blog, 1.5.2012

Textile Exchange, which administers the new Global Recycle Standard, has introduced what it says is a “minor but important” change in GRS version 2.1, according to the April/May 2012 issue of Ecotextile News.  (If you’re wondering what the Global Recycle Standard is all about, please see our blog post on the subject:  click here .)

The new change removes the allowance for the use of pre-industrial waste.  The Version 2.1 will only recognize pre-consumer and post-consumer waste.

6.   CONSUMERS & MARKETING

Studie: Infos zu öko-sozialen Konsumfolgen entscheidend für Nachhaltigkeit

Konsumgüterhersteller, die nachhaltige Kaufentscheidungen fördern wollen, sollten ihre Kunden angemessen über die öko-sozialen Folgen ihrer Produkte informieren. Zu diesem Schluss kommt eine neue Studie des Kölner Dienstleisters GS1 Germany, für die viele Nachhaltigkeitsexperten befragt wurden. Um Konsumenten nicht mit zahllosen Angaben zu überfrachten, plädieren die Autoren dafür, den Infogehalt auf den Kern zu reduzieren.

Nachhaltiger Konsum: Neuer Bericht dokumentiert gute Beispiele aus aller Welt

Wie weit nachhaltige Produktions- und Konsumweisen weltweit schon gediehen sind, zeigt ein neuer Bericht des Umweltprogramms der Vereinten Nationen UNEP. Die 220 Seiten starke Publikation stellt insgesamt 56 gute Projekte und Vorhaben aus aller Welt vor. Neben politischen Initiativen skizziert der Bericht auch solche aus der Wirtschaft und der Zivilgesellschaft.

7.   REGIONS

INIDIA

‘Over 50,000 kids from south Tamil Nadu deployed as child labour’

Times of India, 1.5.2012

MADURAI: Over 50,000 children from Madurai, Theni and Dindigul continue to be sent to the northern states to work in factories run by local merchants in violation of the Right To Education (RTE) Act and need to be identified and brought back, members of the Campaign Against Child Labour (CACL), Tamil Nadu and Puducherry said at the state-level conference on child labour held in Madurai on Monday.

BANGLADESH

Police-RMG workers’ clash leaves one dead, 100 hurt

Financial Express Bangladesh, 12.5.2012

SAVAR, May 12 (UNB): A female garment worker was killed and 100 people, including six journalists and 15 policemen, were injured in a fierce clash between garment workers and cops at Ashulia Saturday.

Bangladesh’s Garment Workers Brave Deadly Fires To Make Luxury American Clothing

GlobalPost, 2.5.2012

His death sent a chill through the ranks of labor rights advocates who operate here in Ashulia, including Babul Akhter of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity, who suspects Bangladeshi government security forces of killing Islam, who had been arrested and tortured before in connection with his work.

“No one wants to join unions out of fear,” said Khorshed Alam, the executive director for Alternative Movements for Resources and Freedom, a labor rights organization.. “The local owners, the brands, the government, their positions are all the same on this. They know that if the workers get organized, they will have to start listening to them.”

The garment manufacturing sector wields enormous influence here. Last year, the industry accounted for almost 80 percent of the country’s exports according to data from the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exports Association (BGMEA).

Finding that competing countries like China, India, and Vietnam are now too expensive, foreign brands are flocking to Dhaka to take advantage of the lowest wages in the world — less than half of the new minimum wage expected to be implemented in Cambodia, its closest competitor in terms of cheap labor. The typical Chinese wage minimum wage is now four to five times that of Bangladesh.

CAMBODIA

Cambodia: ITUC Expresses Concerns for Trade Union Rights in the Garment Sector

30 April 2012: For years, trade unions and the workers they represent in the garment sector have been subject to numerous serious violations of their rights. Excessive hours of work and poor working conditions have led to several episodes of mass fainting. Collective bargaining agreements are being breached, and employers are refusing to negotiate with certain independent unions.

Workers are fired for anti-union motives and are not reinstated, despite binding arbitration awards in their favour. The industry has shifted to using short, fixed duration contracts in an effort to create employment instability and undermine the exercise of fundamental rights. This year, workers have also been the victims of violence, including a shooting outside of a garment factory earlier this year; the perpetrator has been charged on a minor offense yet still remains free.

As May Day approaches, Cambodian unions are mobilising to demand respect on the job. The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) fully supports Cambodian trade unions in their efforts to overcome these many challenges.

At the same time, the ITUC is appalled to learn that GMAC (Garment Manufacturers’ Association in Cambodia), the members of whom are responsible for many of the labour violations in the garment industry, has lashed out at the workers rather than engaging in good faith dialogue.

Sharan Burrow, the ITUC General Secretary, reacted, stating “It is simply unacceptable that employers are calling on the authorities to ‘crack down’ on legitimate strikes and worse that they are publicly demonising independent unions who have had the courage to stand up for their members and demand respect on the job.” The ITUC has launched an urgent call for mature industrial relations in Cambodia, as genuine dialogue with the workers is the only way forward. Decent work and social dialogue are the pillars for sustainable development and social peace.

8.   FAIRS, CONFERENCES

Expert Conference: Business and Human Rights – Principles to Practice

Institutes for Human Rights and Business, 08.5.2012

This week European officials, businesses and other stakeholders are meeting in Copenhagen for a conference entitled “Business and Human Rights – Principles to Practice” under the auspices of the Danish Government … Designed to initiate national implementation plans in all 27 EU countries for the UN Guiding Principles, the conference is being co-facilitated by the Institute for Business and Human Rights.

One of the keynote speeches [5 pages] was delivered by Richard Howitt MEP … argues that although the Guiding Principles have transformed the debate on corporate responsibility in Brussels, the European Union is suffering from its own failure of policy coherence in major areas where it could and should be promoting Business and Human Rights. He seeks to help those who argue faster progress should be made, by warning of the dangers to European business and to the EU economy as a whole, if the European Union fails to implement the Guiding Principles.

NICE Consumer Conference / NICE FASHION WEBSITE

Including: Guide for consumers & professionals, NICE’s 10-year plan, NICE Code of Conduct …

Sustainability and fashion: where are we now?,

Ilaria Pasquinelli for the Guardian Professional Network, 10.5.2012

… The project leaders repeatedly emphasised that the main objective of “educating” consumers is to empower them to make the right choices. This does not only relate to buying decisions, but consumer behaviour. The Fair Wear Foundation has managed to explain these difficult issues in a well thought through video.

European Commission handed blueprint for sustainable fashion

Ecotextile News, 4.5.2012

“There will soon be around 3 billion middle-class people on the planet consuming more and more commodities such as clothing,” said Hedegaard. “The way we both create and consume these commodities will soon come into the wider picture,” she said, “so the paradigm of clean and green fashion now needs to move from the margins into the mainstream.”

The NICE document sets out a series of potential options to encourage European governments to back the sustainable fashion agenda. These options include the integration of sustainable fashion into the educational curriculum from the primary to tertiary level, the consolidation of the current plethora of eco-labels, new guidelines to penalise greenwashing; new efforts to support the take-back, upcycle and recycle of garments and fabrics, the exploration of economic incentives for consumers to recycle or tax breaks for sustainable retail practise.

The document also urges the European Commission to revisit policy on harmful substances and take a more in-depth look at new technologies such as nanotechnology and GMO’s used in textiles and clothing.

NICE & COPENHAGEN FASHION SUMMIT

NETZWERK FAIRE MODE, 14.5.2012

… Das ‚Warum’ war allen klar, über das ‚Wie’ wurde debattiert. Im Slang hieß das so: Wie den Konsumenten aware zu bekommen, für die Probleme und negativen Effekte der globalen Bekleidungsindustrie; wie ihn inspirieren, andere Möglichkeiten in Erwägung zu ziehen; und ihn auf welche Art und Weise zu empowern und activaten, diese im Wust der Information aufzuspüren und letzten Endes auch nachzufragen. …

9.   REGULATION

EuGH erleichtert öffentliche Auftragsvergabe nach Öko-Kriterien

afp, 10.5.2012

Die öffentliche Hand darf bei der Ausschreibung von Aufträgen die Einhaltung von ökologischen und sozialen Standards wie etwa einer umweltverträglichen Produktion fordern. Ein bestimmtes Umweltgütezeichen darf aber nicht zur Bedingung gemacht werden, wie der Europäische Gerichtshof (EuGH) in einem am Donnerstag veröffentlichten Urteil entschied. (Az: C-368/10)

Indian apparel manufacturers to take legal compliance seriously to change ‘child labour’ image

India Times, Economic Times, 8.5.2012

Growing pressure from developed countries, especially the EU and the US, to meet global standards on labour has pushed Indian apparel manufacturers to take legal compliance matters in their own hands to change the image problem plaguing the country.

… The drive is part of the bigger initiative launched by AEPC called DISHA, that aims to spread awareness regarding the importance of social compliance amongst textile exporters and define a common code with global endorsement. …

Proposal for Directive on transparency requirements for listed companies and proposals on country by country reporting – frequently asked questions

EU Kommission: Reference:  MEMO/11/734    Date:  25/10/2011

The European Commission has proposed amendments to the existing Directive on transparency requirements for listed companies and to the Directives on accounting rules for annual accounts and consolidated accounts, inter alia to introduce country by country reporting, as part of a Responsible Business Initiative package of measures (see IP/11/1238).

10.       BRANDS

Aldi – Billig muss nicht gleich böse sein

Die Welt, 5.5.2012

Aldi steht in der Kritik, weil der Discounter seine Mitarbeiter angeblich schlecht behandelt. Tatsächlich ist es wohl eher so, dass Aldi konsequent Leistung verlangt und auch belohnt. Von C. Dierig, S. Fründt und H. Seidel

Die Kommunikationsoffensive lässt nur einen Schluss zu: Offenbar hat Aldi Angst, von seinen Kunden abgestraft zu werden. Experten glauben indes, dass der Lebensmitteldiscounter diese Sorge gar nicht zu haben bräuchte. … Zwar zahle Aldi vergleichsweise gut. Dafür müsse das Personal aber unbezahlte Mehrarbeit leisten, und Urlaubs- und Krankheitstage würden falsch berechnet. Das weist der Discounter zurück. “Eine über die offizielle Arbeitszeit hinausgehende, nicht vergütete Mehrarbeit wird weder erwartet noch geduldet”, heißt es. Dies werde durch die Vorgesetzten streng kontrolliert. Auch hier steht letzlich Aussage gegen Aussage. … Dass sich Kunden aufgrund der Vorwürfe abwenden könnten, glaubt Dalibor dennoch nicht. “Verbraucher haben ein kurzes Gedächtnis. Wenn überhaupt, stellen sie ihr Einkaufsverhalten in der Regel nur für einen begrenzten Zeitraum um.”

Ex-Aldi-Manager “Das System lebt von Kontrolle und Angst”

Diskretion ist bei Aldi das oberste Gebot. Nun bricht ein ehemaliger Manager mit dieser Regel und liefert einen Blick hinter die Kulissen des Discounters. Im Interview schildert Andreas Straub Schikanen gegen Mitarbeiter und erklärt, warum der Konzern ihn dennoch faszinierte.

Nike reveals a new, innovative game plan for sustainability

Oliver Balch for the Guardian Professional Network, 4.5.2012

Earlier versions of Nike’s sustainability reports read like audit statements. That’s because they were: data charts about underage workers employed, safety rules violated, and so forth. All peppered with some pretty pictures of smiling children, of course. So what’s changed?

… First, Nike feels it’s done more or less all it can to ensure supply chain compliance. Its record will never be perfect. Ethical issues will continue to crop up, especially among sub-suppliers. But most of the retailer’s major suppliers are on board, if only because of Nike’s big-stick approach. (It still employs 70 full-time compliance officers, plus a host of third-party auditors.) … Which brings us to the second point: when it comes to saving the planet, compliance doesn’t cut it. “We can’t just be less bad”, says Hannah Jones, vice president of sustainable business and innovation at Nike. The big thing that’s changed at Nike is therefore the focus of its ambition. It is “upping its game”, to use the company’s own sporting parlance. In cricket terminology, its new “game plan” for sustainability is the difference between a forward defence and a full-on hoick out of the ground. “There’s never been such an urgency for scale as we see today … CR [corporate responsibility] programmes that incrementally chip away at things aren’t going to be enough”, explains Jones.

Bei den erreichten Ergebnissen will es Nike nicht belassen: Ein Instrument, um die Bedingungen weiter zu verbessern, ist der „Manufacturing Index“, mit dem der Konzern künftig die Fortschritte bei seinen Zulieferbetrieben bewerten will. Er soll nicht nur die traditionellen Kriterien – Qualität, Kosten oder Pünktlichkeit – berücksichtigen, sondern auch Faktoren wie Umweltfreundlichkeit und Arbeitsbedingungen. Die werden nun in einem eigenen Bewertungssystem, dem „Sourcing & Manufacturing Sustainability Index“ (SMSI), untersucht.  … Die Ergebnisse sollen auch konkrete Folgen haben: Bis 2020 will Nike nur noch mit Zulieferern zusammenarbeiten, die hinsichtlich der Arbeitsbedingungen bestimmten Kriterien des Indizes entsprechen. Wesentlich sind dabei Sicherheitsstandards, maximale Arbeitszeiten, Mindestlöhne und grundlegende Arbeitsrechte. … Andere Zielstellungen beziehen sich auf die Umweltbilanz: So sollen der CO2-Ausstoß pro Produkt bis 2015 gegenüber dem Niveau von 2011 um 20 Prozent, der Wasserverbrauch um 15 Prozent und die anfallenden Abfälle um 10 Prozent reduziert werden. Bis 2020 will Nike zudem Umweltbelastungen durch schädliche Chemikalien im gesamten Produktionsprozess komplett vermeiden.

PPR outlines sustainability targets

Ecotextiles, 27.4.2012

PPR Group … has strengthened its long-term commitment to sustainability with the introduction of environmental and social five-year targets across its luxury and sports and lifestyle brands and the acquisition of a stake in a carbon offsetting company.

The 2016 targets are expected to function together with PPR’s existing Environmental Profit & Loss Account (E P&L) program to help identify new opportunities across the supply chain. The aim is also to enhance the sustainability of its products and to ultimately implement efficient and innovative initiatives to reduce the environmental impacts from the sourcing of raw materials, processing, manufacturing, and distribution of the Group’s products. … Key areas of focus during this period will be the reduction of CO2, waste and water; sourcing of raw materials; hazardous chemicals and materials; paper and packaging; and the supply chain.

Tchibo spürt höhere Beschaffungskosten

Tchibo hat die Erlöse im Geschäftsjahr 2011 um 5% auf 3,54 Mrd. Euro gesteigert. Das Betriebsergebnis (Ebit) des Vorjahres konnte das Hamburger Unternehmen jedoch nicht erreichen. Grund dafür seien die höheren Beschaffungskosten, insbesondere für Baumwolle und Rohkaffee, teilt Tchibo-Eigner Maxingvest mit.

“Natur ist das Geschäftsmodell”

Welt am Sonntag 13.05.12

Die Chefin des Outdoor-Ausrüsters Vaude, Antje von Dewitz

Ist denn die Outdoor-Branche so grün und so sauber? Einerseits ist Natur das Geschäftsmodell. Andererseits werden Textilien hergestellt. Und Textilien sind per se problematisch, alleine wenn man nur an die chemischen Zutaten in der Herstellung denkt. Bei Outdoor-Bekleidung kommt aber hinzu, dass sie funktionell sein muss. Und um diese Funktionalität zu erreichen, ist es nicht immer möglich, durchgehend umweltfreundliche Materialien und Produktionsstandards zu haben. … Studien zufolge ist die Bereitschaft da, für umweltfreundliche Produkte fünf bis acht Prozent mehr zu bezahlen. Tatsächlich liegen unsere Mehrkosten durch die Zertifizierungen, die Audits, das zusätzliche Personal und die teureren Materialien zwischen zehn und 15 Prozent. Wir kompensieren das zurzeit durch stärkeres Umsatzwachstum.

Walmart Explains Introduction of Sustainability Scorecards for Product Categories

Sustainable Brands, 2.5.2012

Walmart released its latest CSR report highlighting progress on goals for reducing waste, increasing locally grown produce, and developing sustainability rankings for its products. The report will likely stir the ongoing debate over whether or not the giant retailer, which has a core business model of providing the lowest cost products to the largest possible number of people, can ever be truly sustainable.

 “There are multiple suppliers and multiple products within a product category,” Thomas explains. “This allows us to understand the sustainability hotspots within those categories and rank the suppliers based on information they provide us on their practices around those hotspots.” … During the Milestone meeting, several members of Walmart’s merchandizing organization explained the critical role the company’s buyers will play in leveraging the scorecards, because they are the ones who “own the relationship” with suppliers and ultimately pick the products that will be sold in stores around the world.  

11.       NGO CAMPAIGNS & PROJECTS

Fair Games? Not for workers making sportswear for the Olympics

Playfair 2012 Campaign

The Fair Games? report investigated working conditions in 10 sportswear factories in China, Sri Lanka and the Philippines where they produced sportswear that will be bought by consumers and used by athletes and volunteers at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Researchers uncovered worrying facts indicating continued systematic and widespread exploitation of workers in sportswear factories:

  • Poverty wages were found across the board. In Sri Lanka, some workers have to survive on around £1.78 a day, little above the UN’s official poverty line, and only 25% of the amount needed for a living wage, enabling workers to live in dignity. In the Philippines, 50% of workers were forced to pawn their ATM cards to loan sharks for pay day loans to get them through the month.
  • Workers had legal benefits systematically denied to them by repeated use of short term contracts. Employers used these to avoid paying social insurance including pensions, sick leave and maternity benefits.
  • Workers were forced to perform overtime under threat of losing their jobs.
  • In all 10 factories there was no recognised union or credible workers’ representatives, meaning workers had no voice on pay and conditions. In China workers were threatened with job losses for distributing leaflets that could ‘hamper employer-employee relationships; and in the Philippines all workers interviewed said that they were scared to join a union as they would lose their jobs.
  • Living conditions showed the poverty levels experienced by workers. Chinese workers shared cramped and overcrowded rooms with hot water only available after 23:00, when their shift finished.

This catalogue of human rights abuses in both Olympic supply chains and the supply chains of multinational companies must be addressed by the Olympic movement and by sportswear brands and retailers.

Abuses still exist in Olympic supply chains

ITUC, 7.5.2012

Workers making Olympic sportswear for London 2012 for top brands and high street names including adidas and Next are being paid poverty wages, forced to work excessive overtime and threatened with instant dismissal if they complain about working conditions, according to a new report from the Play Fair 2012 campaign.

Forced labour claims dent image of London 2012

The Independent, 6.5.2012

They were supposed to be the most ethical Games yet, but research in Asian factories supplying official clothing has led to allegations of sweatshop conditions

Official Olympic clothing sold by Next is claimed to have been produced in sweatshop conditions in Sri Lanka. The allegation comes days after the high street chain unveiled the formal outfits that Team GB will wear at the opening ceremony. The claims emerged in a wider investigation into Olympic brands that found “widespread abuse of the human rights of workers” in eight factories around the world. Research by the Playfair 2012 campaign also cited allegations of mistreatment of staff working for the sportswear manufacturer Adidas in the Philippines and China. …

Olympic stress for Indonesian labourers who allege they endure sweatshop conditions

The Atlantic, Kathy Marks, 29.4.2012

Mirna works up to 60 hours a week in an Indonesian factory, stitching tracksuits and T-shirts for adidas, the official sportswear partner of the London Olympics. While the German company expects to make tens of millions of euros from this summer’s Games, Mirna earns just 8,125 rupiah (Dh3.28) an hour, and has had to send her son away to be looked after by grandparents.

RESOURCES

Chinese Sweatshop in Bangladesh

Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights

For the last several months, we have travelled back and forth to Bangladesh to confront some of Europe’s and Australia’s most prominent retailers.  They have excellent codes of conduct, which are also completely useless.  In fact, the high end retailers handed over their production, lock, stock and barrel, to the secretive South Ocean Group-(they do not even have a website)-which is one of the world’s largest knitwear manufacturers.  South Ocean in turn, sent production to the Rosita and Megatex factories, located in the North Bengal region of Bangladesh.

The Chinese-owned Rosita Knitwears and Megha Textile (Megatex) factories in Bangladesh produce sweatshop sweaters for: Peek&Cloppenburg, Van Graaf – Germany, British Home Stores /Arcadia Group – United Kingdom, Coles / Wesfarmers – Australia, Dressmann/Varner Group – Norway, Celio – France, de Bijenkorf – Netherlands,  Fynch-Hatton – Germany, Smart Set / Reitmans – Canada (produced in 2010 and part of 2011)

  • Sign the Petition

RAGS (Responsible and Accountable Garment Sector): Implementing Social Standards in the Indian Ready Made Garment SectorSAI,

Project Partners: Gap Inc., Timberland, PGC Switcher, ETI-UK
Project Location: India (Bangalore, New Delhi, Tirupur)

Project Description: “RAGS: Improving Social Standards in the Indian Ready-Made Garment Sector” is a program of SAI to improve working conditions of workers by reducing gender discrimination and improving factory level processes of engagement with homeworkers in supply chain. The program is supported by UKAID from the Department for International Development (DFID). Activities will focus on classroom and onsite trainings of suppliers and subcontractors on gender discrimination issues and engagement with homeworkers.

The project includes the participation from global retailers such as Gap Inc., Timberland and PGC-Switcher— who will assist SAI to select and engage with group of suppliers based in India. RAGS also works in collaboration in SAI’s PPP with BSCI and GIZ, “Scaling Up Indian Responsible Business Initiatives.”

  • Brochure[Download, 385KB]

  • One-page summary [90 KB]

  • “SAI Launches RAGS to Uplift Home Based Workers in Garment Sector” – Article in Perfect Sourcing Magazine, Nov 2011

12.       BOOKS, REPORTS, REVIEWS, SCIENCE

EU: Zögerliche Fortschritte in der nachhaltigen Beschaffung

Via Kompass Nachhaltigkeit: Centre for European Policy Studies, 20.04.2012

Eine Studie im Auftrag der Europäischen Kommission zeigt den aktuellen Stand der Umsetzung einer nachhaltigen öffentlichen Beschaffung in der EU auf. Nach EU-eigenen Zielen von 2008 sollten bis 2010 die Hälfte aller öffentlichen Aufträge Nachhaltigkeitskriterien beinhalten, d. h. allen EU-Zielen für ein “grünes” öffentliches Beschaffungswesen (Green Public Procurement – GPP) entsprechen. Dieses Ziel wurde laut einer neuen Studie des Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) nicht erreicht, obwohl es Fortschritte gab. Viele öffentliche Einkäufer haben der Studie zufolge weiterhin Schwierigkeiten bei der Aufnahme grüner Kriterien in die Ausschreibungen.

Dalit girls exploited in Indian garment industry

Posted on 26/04/2012

European and US garment brands and retailers have failed in their attempts to structurally improve labour conditions at their suppliers in Tamil Nadu, South India. Despite corporate promises and a range of well-meaning initiatives, workers, mostly very young women, continue to suffer exploitative working conditions. Up until today, thousands of women in the garment and textile industry in Tamil Nadu work under recruitment and employment schemes that amount to bonded labour. These are the findings by the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) and the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN) – partner in the Stop Child Labour campaign – presented in the report

Ethical codes: reality and rhetoric – a study of Sri Lanka’s apparel sector

Kanchana N. Ruwanpura, Univ. of Southampton (UK), 19.4.2012

This report provides initial findings from a three year study, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, on evolving labour practice responses to ethical trading initiatives at sites of production which focuses on the Sri Lankan apparel sector (Grant number: RES-061-25-0181). The report focuses on what the Sri Lankan apparel sector’s evolution into value-added apparel production implies for labour conditions and practices at production sites. It is also interested in exploring what local institutional factors enables Sri Lanka to position itself as a supplier engaged in ethical production and the extent to which the ‘garments without guilt’ initiative rests upon legitimate adherence to global ethical code regimes. Issues of paramount importance as the world economy go through a downturn. This report is intended as a sole key point summary primarily targeting the non-academic community as its readership; those interested in detailed findings of the project should contact Dr. Kanchana N. Ruwanpura (k.n.ruwanpura@soton.ac.uk)

GlobalPost’s special report, ‘WORKED OVER: The Global Decline Of Worker Rights’

Global Post (Website)

It’s been called a “race to the bottom.” The hyper-accelerated movement of capital, jobs and resources from the world’s international corporations — manufacturing, agriculture, service — to the lowest bidder. GlobalPost explores the human cost of such a race in an era of diminished expectations, broken promises and sleight of hand between governments, emp loyers, unions and their workers.

This GlobalPost ‘Special Report,’ titled “Worked Over: The Global Decline of Labor Rights,” explores the way the forces of free-market capitalism have rapidly eroded hard-won protections negotiated between governments, labor unions and activists in countries with developed economies, like Spain, the United States and Canada.

13.       CALL FOR PAPERS & PROPOSALS

Bundespreis Ecodesign

Bundesumweltministerium und Umweltbundesamt haben im Januar 2012 erstmalig den „Bundespreis Ecodesign“ ausgelobt. Ziel ist es, gute Beispiele für Ecodesign bekannter zu machen und Innovationen auf diesem Gebiet zu fördern. Der Wettbewerb richtet sich an Designer/-innen und Unternehmen. Er wird in den Kategorien Produkt (Produkte, Dienstleistungen und Systeme) sowie Konzept (Prototypen und Konzeptstudien) ausgelobt, zusätzlich wird ein Nachwuchspreis verliehen.
Für die Konzeption und Durchführung ist das Internationale Design Zentrum Berlin (IDZ) verantwortlich.
Die Bewerbungsfrist läuft ab sofort bis zum 25. Mai 2012. Weitere Informationen und Anmeldung zum Wettbewerb unter: http://www.bundespreis-ecodesign.de

14.       WORKSHOPS ETC.

MAI 2012

Evolving Textiles Conference at North Carolina State University

RALEIGH (USA), 17.05.2012

Impactt Conference 2012: Finding the Sweet Spot: Smarter Ethical Trade that delivers more for all

LONDON, 25.05.2012

ISEAL Conference 2012

BONN, 29.-30.05.2012

KarmaKonsum Konferenz

FRANKFURT, 31.05-01.06.2012

JUNE 2012

EBEN Research Conference Newcastle, Newcastle University:
‘Accountability, transparency, sustainability’

NEWCASTLE, 07.-09.06.2012

The Continuum Show

NEW YORK, 24.-25.06.2012

JULY 2012

Berlin Fashion Week Berlin BERLIN, 04.-06.07.2012

Green Showroom

BERLIN, 04.-06.07.2012

InnatexLounge

BERLIN, 05.07.2012

AUGUST 2012

Innatex

HOFHEIM / FRANKFURT, 04-06.08.2012

SEPTEMBER 2012

oeko-foire (fair)

LUXEMBURG, 14.-16.09.2012

OKTOBER 2012

Sustainable Textiles Conference. Messe Frankfurt, Textile Exchange, Ecotextile News

HONG KONG, 04.-05.10.2012

Ethical Fashion Night 2012

GENEVA, 28.10.2012



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