NEWSLETTER FASHION & SUSTAINABILITY NO. 9 | 29.5.2012Posted: May 29, 2012 | |
Dear readers, it’s relatively quiet on the news front. These are our highlights for the second half of May:
- In the „Regions“ section you can nicely see how, on the one hand, workers strike in demand for higher wages, particularly in Cambodia and Myanmar this month. Workers in Myanmar seem to earn even less than in Bangladesh ($11 a month), demanding threefold $38. And on the other hand, articles indicates that countries (China, Vietnam) lose investments, and that factory managers argue that they themselves should fix the wages …
- In this context, the new Worldbank stuy on women’s wages in Cambodia might be interesting for you.
- Again the German TV showed a quite shocking report on „ poisonous“ shoes. Hence, we decided to very soon issue a „good shoe guide“.
- New reports: Bank Sarasin is taking a very critical look at the luxury sector, arguing that sustainability is not taken very seriously by many luxury brands. And Solidaridad & FLA took a look at the Sumangali Scheme in Tamil Nadu.
- One article (or marketing coverage?) on Bt cotton shows how the Bt cotton yields grow in India and how much India’s government supports this. You might also look in newsletter no. 8 to view a more critical perspective by Mr. Sainath in The Hindu.
- … and professionals: don’t forget to get your tickets for the Ethical Fashion Show in Berlin.
Here you find the PDF of the newsletter.
And finally, Banksy left his critique of overseas child labour in London.
All text below is taken directly from the according articles. We highly recommend to follow the links to an article, if you take interest in an article.
NETZWERK FAIRE MODE & KERN KOMMUNIKATION
1. CSR & SUSTAINABILITY
2. WORKING CONDITIONS
ETI Blog, 16 May 2012
Across many countries in Southern Africa, primary education is neither universal nor mandatory. Add to this some of the highest HIV rates in the world and the result is thousands of orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs), child-headed households, and an incredibly complex, and dare I say compelling, contribution to the child labour debate.
NDR TV, 14.5.2012
Jeder Mensch braucht Schuhe. In Deutschland besitzen Frauen im Durchschnitt mehr als 13 Paare, Männer mehr als acht. Die wenigsten unserer Schuhe werden hierzulande produziert, sie kommen vor allem aus China. Aber auch dort wird bei der Fertigung meistens auf Leder aus Indien zurückgegriffen, das mit Chromsalzen gegerbt wurde. Dieses Gerben unter schlechten Arbeitsbedingungen birgt nicht nur für die Arbeiter Gesundheitsgefahren.
… Die Schadstoffe in Schuhen können Hautreizungen mit nässenden Ekzemen und schwere Allergien auslösen, die manchmal sogar zur Berufsunfähigkeit führen. Das Problem: Ist der Körper erst einmal sensibilisiert, bleibt die Allergie oft ein Leben lang bestehen. Es reichen schon kleine Mengen aus, um eine allergische Reaktion auszulösen. …
… verwenden etliche Hersteller oft billige Kunststoffe und Kleber und achten nicht so genau darauf, ob die Stoffe Allergien oder Hautreizungen auslösen können.
… So wurden zum Beispiel von mehr als 600 Millionen Paaren importierter Schuhe nur rund 1.000 staatliche Proben genommen.
4. COTTON and other fibres
… The introduction of Bt cotton in India brought in a humungous change in the country’s cotton cultivation pattern. The number of cotton farmers cultivating cotton increased significantly from five million in 2002-03 to eight million in 2011-12 after the introduction of Bt cotton. Notably, the number of Bt cotton farmers increased from 50,000 in 2002-03 to seven million in 2011-12, representing approximately 88 percent of the eight million cotton farmers in 2011-12 (Brookes and Barfoot report, 2012).
India’s Agriculture Minister Mr Sharad Pawar praised the introduction of Bt cotton seeds in Parliament this year by saying that it was a great step towards decreasing insecticide usage in the country. “With the use of high quality hybrid cotton seeds, Indian farmers experienced the biggest gain in form of reduced insecticide usage, from 46 percent in 2001 to less than 26 percent after 2006 and 21 percent in 2009 and 2010,” he said.
6. STANDARDS & CERTIFICATES
Global Recycle Standard – GRS v2.1 effective from 1.6.2012
TextileExchange, May 2012
The GRS is intended for companies that are making and/or selling products with recycled content. The standard applies to the full supply chain and addresses traceability, environmental principles, social requirements, and labeling. Developed with the textile industry in mind, the GRS may also be applied to products from any industry.
Textile Exchange Blog, 24.5.2012
“What are the fees for getting certified?”
“What are the costs to not be certified?”
7. CONSUMERS & MARKETING
Eine aktuelle Umfrage von der Zeitschrift “Brigitte” legt den Schluss “sozial” als neues “bio” nahe. Probleme des “greenwashing” werden sich wohl auf den Bereich “Soziales” ausweiten. Unternehmen sind gefordert, aber auch NGOs, denn “Soziales” und “Transparenz” sind keine Stärken.
“Korrekter Konsum” bleibe für Frauen in Deutschland ein kaufentscheidendes Kriterium. Allerdings reiche die Bezeichnung “Bio” oder “Öko” auf der Verpackung für Unternehmen bei weitem nicht mehr aus, um sich positiv vom Wettbewerb abzugrenzen. Zu diesem Ergebnis kommt die aktuelle “Brigitte” Kommunikationsanalyse 2012 (KA), die alle zwei Jahre die Beziehung der deutschen Frauen zu Marken und ihre Einstellungen gegenüber den gesellschaftlichen Rahmenbedingungen repräsentativ erforscht.
.. Auch beim Kauf von Mode und Kosmetik seien Öko-Aspekte und die Ablehnung von Chemie auf dem Rückmarsch. So sagen in der aktuellen Untersuchung 61 Prozent der Frauen und damit 12 Prozent weniger als noch 2002, am liebsten Kleidung aus natürlichen Materialien zu tragen.
… Legt man diese Ergebnisse um und setzt sie gedanklich fort, dann ist evident, dass das Thema Transparenz, Klarheit und ähnliches mehr und mehr in den Fokus rücken werden. …
8. SLOW FASHION / RECYCLING / DIY / PRODUCTION
New Age, 23.5.2012
A memorandum of understanding was signed on Tuesday by leading textile and garment sector industries for cleaner production practices and investing in technologies that reduce water consumption.
… They said in Bangladesh over 1,700 garment washing, dyeing and finishing units discharge 56 million tonnes of waste water, which poses serious threats to public health and the environment.
The Daily Star, 23.5.2012
The labour and employment minister yesterday asked the garment makers to form “participation committees” at the factory-level to curb labour unrest. Such committees will help develop the relationship between the workers and owners, said Khandker Mosharraf Hossain, the minister. … “You have to form the participatory committees as the workers do not have any platform to hold talks with the owners to address their problems,” the minister told the garment owners.
Phnom Phen Post, 28.5.2012
Just as a solution to a two-week-long dispute at two SL Garment factories seemed over on Saturday, the company’s owner issued a statement refusing to recognise an agreement that had lured more than 5,000 employees back to work.
Phnom Phen Post, 25.5.2012
Workers from SL Garment factories and union representatives held their second round of talks at the Ministry of Social Affairs yesterday as strikes at the Levi’s, Gap and H&M suppliers continued for the 12 day straight. … Ek Sopheakdey, legal officer for the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union (C.CAWDU), said workers lowered their demands from $10 to $8.50 for transport and living allowances, but held firm on their attendance bonus. Legal complaints against union officials had to be withdrawn.
Phnom Phen Post, 24 May 2012
Security guards clashed yesterday with workers from two SL Garment factories that supply Levi’s, Gap and H&M, as the number of employees protesting exceeded 5,500 – or more than 90 per cent of the staff.
Protester Kim Voeun, 32, said security guards, in the presence of about 300 police and military police officers, had prevented workers congregating outside the SL1 factory in the capital’s Meanchey district.
Just Style, 23.5.2012
Talks to try to end an 11-day strike at a Cambodian supplier that makes garments for international brands including Gap, Levi’s and H&M broke down yesterday (22 May) after a day of negotiations. … According to Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodia Apparel Workers Democratic Union (C.CAWDU), who represented for the workers at the talks, the workers reje cted the factory’s offer of a combined transport and living allowance of $7 per month. … Instead, they are calling for an allowance of $10 a month, having dropped this from an initial level of $25. They have also lowered their attendance bonus demands from $12 per month to $10, but the factory is offering just $8. Other demands have also been rejected by factory managers.
Phnom Phen Post, 22.5.2012
Female union leaders in the garment industry – where women constitute 90 per cent of the work force – are effective at bargaining for better working conditions, but their voices aren’t being heard in a union landscape dominated by men, a labour expert said yesterday. Veasna Nuon, co-author of Building Unions in Cambodia: History, Challenges, Strategies, said even in factories where women are elected as union leaders, they are often unable to effect much change because bargaining usually takes place further up the union chain, where men hold most positions of power.
The China Post, 23.5.2012
… “Our orders dropped to half from a year ago, mainly because overseas orders fell significantly … while export prices have fallen.” But at least her company, based in the fast-developing western city of Chongqing, has not collapsed yet — unlike “a lot of textile producers around here,” she said. From more failing companies to new data suggesting that industrial output, property and other sectors risk slowing to 2008 crisis levels, signs are that one of the global economy’s key growth engines is losing steam fast. Analysts are saying China faces a rougher road to recovery than expected.
The Hindu, 18.5.2012
Mapping of mining, vulnerable areas to be done to find children working in mines, quarries. The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has decided to conduct mapping of mining areas and vulnerable regions in different States to find out about child labourers working in mines and quarries and to evolve a new child labour tracking system with emphasis on rescue and rehabilitation.
Daily Times, 21.5.2012
SILENCED for decades under military rule, Myanmar’s workers are now daring to speak out to demand better pay and conditions after a new law gave them the right to strike. Workers in the country formerly known as Burma are already testing their new-found power with a string of walkouts, emboldened by legislation that is considered among the most progressive in the region. Hundreds of employees from three garment factories at Yangon’s Hlaing Thar Yar Industrial Zone went on strike last week demanding improved working conditions, picketing outside the plants. … Earlier this month around 300 workers at a wig factory in the same industrial zone went on strike, demanding that their basic salaries be raised from around $12 a month to roughly $38. “We have faced this problem for a long time but we couldn’t stand it any longer,” said 23-year-old Thingyan Moe. The South Korean employer granted all of the staff requests.
The Irrawady, 22.5.2012
More than 5,000 workers in five different factories at Rangoon’s Hlaing Tharyar Industrial Zone have been striking for better pay for two weeks. The strikers are demanding a wage hike from 15,000 kyat (US $17.90) per month to 30,000 kyat ($35.80), which their employers have so far refuse to pay. … Aung Kyaw Thu, a worker at Nay Min Aung garment factory for one year, told The Irrawaddy that, “they still do not agree our demands to pay 30,000 kyat ($35.8) per month but have only agreed to our minor disciplinary demands.” He added that he currently earns around 9,000 kyat ($10.8) per month, which amounts to a daily wage of 350 kyat ($0.42), and has to work for 26 days a month.
Uzbekistan: Rights Defender Threatened, Attacked. End Practice of Harassing Rights Activists Through Government Proxies
May 25, 2012, Human Rights Watch
Uzbek authorities should ensure the security of the human rights activist Gulshan Karaeva, who was attacked and threatened after she publicly refused to become a government informant, Human Rights Watch said today.
Karaeva, head of the Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan (HRSU) branch in Kashkadarya, a region in southern Uzbekistan, published a letter on the internet on May 5, 2012, to report that she had refused a demand by Uzbekistan’s National Security Services (SNB) to cooperate with the agency as an informant. Days later, she experienced a series of attacks and threats on the street.
UZNET, 19.05.12 15:15
Schoolchildren and college students have been involved in spring field works in cotton fields in Tashkent Region, the Human Rights Alliance of Uzbekistan has said.
Asian Business Daily, 24.5.2012
European companies operating in Vietnam may cut their investments there as most continue to be cautious about the outlook of business in the Asian country. A survey carried out recently reveals about 28% of European firms are planning to cut back their investments raising concerns about the country’s economy.
… Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), the organization representing businesses, also believes that it would be better to let businesses define their payrolls. Tran Chi Dung from VCCI said the decisions by the government to raise the minimum wage level always have impacts on businesses. Every time when the decision on new minimum wage levels is made, the market would be shaken with the prices of goods and services all increasing. Once the input material prices increase, businesses’ production costs would increase which would make products less competitive. … “We need to recognize that the wage adjustment would heavily affect businesses and indirectly affect the social security and the national economy,” Dung said.
… However, the suggestion has raised controversy. Dang Nhu Loi, former Deputy Chair of the Social Affairs’ Committee, if businesses have full power to define wages for their workers, the labor market would be absolutely floating. Meanwhile, the Vietnam Labor Confederation remains not powerful enough to negotiate with bosses and protect the interests of workers. According to Loi, in many enterprises, the average wages are very high, while in fact, the salaries workers receive are very low. Therefore, it would be a big trouble if the State does not make intervention in this case.
10. BRANDS & CSR reports
Los Angeles Times, 24.5.2012
Patagonia executives say that sales have soared despite the struggling economy, and that its environmental focus is key to its success. High-end outdoor clothier and gear maker Patagonia Inc. is out to prove that a company can generate strong sales while being nearly fanatical about environmental concerns.
… Chief Executive Casey Sheahan said customers were willing to pay $25 for a T-shirt, $20 for wool socks and $180 for a light jacket because they knew Patagonia inflicted less damage on the environment than other clothing makers did. … “I think a lot of big companies are doing things like this because it’s a better way of doing business,” he said as he strolled company headquarters where clothing designers shuffle around in flip-flops while other workers shape surfboards that they test off a nearby beach.
… But no matter how the business fares in the future, Chouinard wants the commitment to the environment to continue. In fact, he took a step to try to ensure that it does, even beyond his demise.
On Jan. 3, the first day of business this year, Chouinard marched into the office of the secretary of state in Sacramento to be the first head of a company in California to file “benefit corporation” papers. … Traditionally, for-profit companies are required to serve the interests of shareholders above all. But a law passed by the state Legislature last year created the category of “benefit corporation” to allow such companies to adopt policies that “create a material positive impact on society and the environment.” The law took effect this year.
Evidero, Volker Eidems, 22.5.2012
Von Apple bis Zara, von Zalando bis AEG, Unternehmen hinterlassen Spuren – nicht nur im Markt, sondern auch ökologisch, gesundheitlich und sozial. Diese Fußabdrücke nimmt evidero-Autor Volker Eidems unter die grüne Lupe. Er richtet in seiner Serie den Fokus auf die unternehmerische Verantwortung von Marken und Marktführern, stellt Fragen nach dem Stromverbrauch von bofrost, den Arbeitsbedingungen bei Hess-Natur oder der Umweltverträglichkeit von North-Face-Jacken.
… Ein Manager dieser Firmen erklärte, es sei „unter dem Zeitdruck und für die Bezahlung nicht möglich, andere Techniken zur Produktion einzusetzen“. Zara wird dennoch nicht vom „Used Look“ absehen oder mehr Zeit und Lohn investieren. … Auch beim Thema Biobaumwolle gibt sich Inditex zurückhaltend und will keinen Anteil am Gesamtsortiment nennen, sondern nur die Gesamtmenge: „Im Jahr 2011 hat Zara zwei Millionen Kleidungsstücke aus Biobaumwolle verkauft. Diese Teile entsprechen OE100 Standard und Zertifizierung […].“
Gegenperspektive: Die Angst vor der Markenrandale
Envidero, Matthias Leier, 22.05.2012
Dass man das Thema auch ganz anders sehen kann zeigt der gleichzeitig startende evidero-Blog von Matthias Leier. Er schreibt aus der Sicht der wohlwollenden, aber leidgeplagten Unternehmer.
… Wenn es denn nicht sofort etwas auf die Mütze gibt, so wird es doch zumindest erst mal kritisch beäugt. Unternehmen haben es in Deutschland nicht leicht, nachhaltiges Engagement zu kommunizieren. Dabei ist es in vielen Fällen tatsächlich gut gemeint, am Ende häufig nur nicht mit letzter Konsequenz oder suboptimaler Sprechblase umgesetzt worden. … Die Unternehmen haben schlichtweg Angst oder nicht die Kraft, sich auf unendliche Diskussionen einzulassen. Kein Unternehmen kann von heute auf morgen alle Stellschrauben in Richtung „nachhaltig“ drehen. Das wissen …
Straight Times, 21.5.2012
Workers at a large Cambodian garment factory that makes clothes for Levi’s, Gap and other well-known international brands are striking for more pay and better working conditions. … The director of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers said workers are demanding an increase in their US$61 (S$77) monthly salaries. He said they want a US$5 salary hike and an extra US$25 a month for transportation and housing. SL Garment’s website says it makes clothes for labels that include J. Crew, Banana Republic, H&M and Levi’s, whose website in turn lists the company as a supplier.
Dm ist die führende Drogeriekette in Deutschland und hat ein beneidenswert gutes Image. Die Reportage Der dm-Check fragte, was dahinter steckt und fand Risse im positiven Außenbild. Die beginnen damit, dass die Dauertiefpreise nicht überall gleich sind, und enden in Billiglohnländern wie Indonesien und Bangladesch.
Nike released its annual sustainability report this month, which reveals that the brand sees social innovation as central to its good business practice to improve itself as a company and put it to good use for the planet.
11. NGO CAMPAIGNS & PROJECTS
Die Vereinte Dienstleistungsgewerkschaft (ver.di) hat die Textilhandelskette H&M aufgefordert, sich an einem Programm der Firma PVH zu beteiligen, das sich gemeinsam mit Nichtregierungsorganisationen und Gewerkschaften aktiv für mehr Sicherheit der Beschäftigten in Bangladesch einsetzt.
12. BOOKS, REPORTS, REVIEWS, SCIENCE
Bank Sarasin, 02.05.2012
Luxusgüter leben von der Reputation ihrer Marke: Diese stehen für Exklusivität und höchste Qualitätsansprüche. Die zunehmende Nachfrage und die damit einhergehende Erhöhung des Produktionsvolumens bilden jedoch einen zunehmenden Widerspruch zu diesem Anspruch. Noch zu wenig sensibilisiert für nachhaltige Fragestellungen, bergen Mängel in der Produktqualität, fragwürdige Rohstoffquellen und wenig transparente Lieferketten große Reputationsrisiken. Der aktuelle Nachhaltigkeits-Branchenreport der Bank Sarasin hat 15 führende Luxusgüterunternehmen aus den Bereichen Mode, Uhren, Schmuck und Accessoires sowie Kosmetik und Parfümerie unter die Lupe genommen und ortet für die Branche dann im Bereich der Nachhaltigkeit auch entsprechenden Aufholbedarf.
Worldbank Policy Research Working Paper, 1.5.2012
Authors: Savchenko, Yevgeniya; Acevedo, Gladys Lopez
Abstract. The end of the Multi-fiber Arrangement/Agreement on Textiles and Clothing in 2005 was a major policy change that affected the allocation of global apparel productions well as the lives of workers involved in this sector. Since the apparel industry is often the major female employer in developing countries, this policy change was expected to have major implications for women. This paper analyzes the wages and working conditions of women in the apparel sector in Cambodia and Sri Lanka following the phase-out the Multi-fibre Arrangement. In both countries, apparel is a major source of exports, and women constitute 70 to 80 percent of the workers employed in the apparel industry. The paper finds that after the removal of the Multi-fibre Arrangement, apparel prices declined as a result of the increased competition. The theoretical model suggests that a decrease in prices would lead to a decrease in apparel wage premiums relative to other industries in the short run and the widening of the male-female wage gap in the long run. The empirical findings support these theoretical predictions. Wage premiums in the apparel sector relative to other industries went down post-Multi-fibre Arrangement in Cambodia and Sri Lanka and the male-female wage gap increased. The paper finds mixed results in terms of working conditions in Cambodia and Sri Lanka.
China Labour Bulletin, 14 May, 2012
Last week on 8 May, around 1,000 shoe factory workers in Dongguan walked out in protest at management plans to cut their monthly bonus from the usual 500 yuan to just 100 yuan. Management refused to talk so one worker posted their grievances on his micro-blog. China Labour Bulletin contacted the worker and posted an account of the strike on our microblog. This story was then retweeted more than 50 times within the hour and soon five reporters had gathered outside the factory gate demanding to know what was going on. They were refused entry but the very next day the management, under pressure from local government officials to make the story go away, agreed to increase the workers’ bonus to 300 yuan and the strikers returned to work.
Ø A Decade of Change: The Workers’ Movement in China 2000-2010 is now available as a downloadable PDF.
Der Herzogenauracher Sport- und Lifestylekonzern Puma belegt in einem neuen globalen Nachhaltigkeitsranking den ersten Platz. In der vom britischen Beratungsunternehmen Eiris erhobenen Rangliste konnte der Konzern sich vor das britische Reiseunternehmen FirstGroup und die National Australia Bank setzen. Die Analysten loben die vorbildlichen Umwelt-Managementsysteme Pumas und deutliche Verbesserungen in der Ökobilanz.
Solidaridad & FLA, 8.5.2012
The textile and clothing industry in India employs an estimated 35 million people, and much of the country’s production occurs in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. Behind the scenes of this bustling industry, a troubling practice called the Sumangali Scheme continues to put the rights and lives of millions of young women at risk.
In May 2012, the Fair Labor Association (FLA) and Solidaridad-South & South East Asia released a research report on the Sumangali Scheme – the practice of paying young women a lump sum to be used for a dowry at the end of a three-year term. Written by Solidaridad with support from the FLA, this report provides an overview of the Sumangali Scheme, presents stakeholder views, and offers the perspectives of some of the women and their families who are affected by this practice. The report also presents a set of recommendations for improvements including: raising awareness of the Sumangali Scheme at the community level; strengthening government support; and involving stakeholders of the overall supply chain.