NEWSLETTER FASHION & SUSTAINABILITY NO. 13 | 24.7.2012Posted: July 24, 2012 | |
These are the highlights from our newsletter Fashion, Textile & Sustainability No. 13 (PDF):
- As every week, wages is a hot topic: Chinese news report that government wages in China are growing slower than last year, the Bankok Post reports that firms „ignore“ wage hikes, BBC writes that food prices in Bangladesh have increased by more than 50% with wages remaining the same, and the Pakistan Times explains why the government is incapable of even enforcing minimum wages.
- Numerous news focus on Adidas: The company now closed its last own factory in China, and opens 600 new shops in China. On its blog Adidas explains what they understand as „poverty wages“, while the University of Wisconsin has launched a „historic challenge to Adidas over Sweatshop Conditions for College-Branded Apparel“. And a PhD student from Oxford has written an interesting special report about the „Rise (and fall?) of Adidas“.
- We suggest clothing companies to look at what is happening in other sectors. The Guardian argues that getting the supply chains in order could also be an opportunity – as „US legislation will require companies to disclose their use of conflict minerals“ anyhow.
- People working in public procurement have a new guide to „Good verification practices for social standards“ by the Landmark project.
- There is an article in the Guardian about „how activism forced Nike to change its ethical game“ and the Financial Times shows how Jochen Zeitz envisions Puma’s phase out from leather soccer shoes.
If you have any wishes, please do not hesitate to contact us ms(at)netzwerkfairemode.com
NETZWERK FAIRE MODE & KERN KOMMUNIKATION
1. CSR & SUSTAINABILITY
International Resource Politics: New challenges demanding new governance approaches for a green economy (PDF)
Raimund Bleischwitz, Bettina Bahn-Walkowiak, Felix Ekardt, Heidi Feldt, Lili Fuhr, Heinrich Böll Stiftung, 5.7.2012
Natural resources are back on the agenda…This paper…pleads for new approaches, called international resource politics. What is new…is the interconnectivity across critical resource shortages, which presents two challenges: the environmental challenge to cope with impacts from using resources along their lifecycle…[and] the socio-political challenge to cope with human rights, poverty, and freedom internationally.
Jo Confino, Guardian Professional, 16.7.2012
Resource sustainability conference at the University of Oxford, which brought 250 of the most senior global experts in the field of politics, business and finance together to find a way through the sustainability challenges we face.
… What we heard time and time again were the reasons why it is so hard to take radical action.
… So why do many high level speakers believe we are locked into the status quo? …
… “We have got to get back to a stakeholder society where one stakeholder does not get an advantage from the skin they put in the game,” he said.
2. WORKING CONDITIONS
The Times of India, 24.7.2012
In its bid to intensify the fight against child labour, the Rajasthan State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (RSCPCR) has decided to increase the age limit of child labour from 14 to 18 years. …
Daily Star Bangladesh, 21.7.2012
Grim human, labour rights situation presented at congressional hearing; buyers wrote PM 2 letters in 4 months about hiking RMG workers’ wage, probing death of labour leader Aminul …
Hey, Ralph Lauren, sweatshops aren’t chic. Olympic gear shouldn’t come from such factories — ours or theirs.
LA TIMES, Robert J.S. Ross, 18.7.2012
Ralph Lauren, the crown prince of preppy, received more than $30 million in compensation in 2011 from the corporation he founded and of which he and his family control about 73%. He is on the Forbes list of billionaires. …
… As it is, more than 98% of the dollar value of the Ralph Lauren clothing line is made abroad, much of it in China.
… Ralph Lauren and the U.S. Olympic Committee could do some simple things to remove the shadow over their respective images. The company could disclose the locations where the Olympic teams’ clothing is made. It could invite the premier workers’ rights monitoring institution, the Worker Rights Consortium, to inspect these factories.
Workers are busy working in front of sewing machines in a manufacturing workshop in the northeastern coastal city of Dalian as the 2012 London Olympics approaches.
Making uniforms for this year’s U.S. Olympic athletes, Dayang Group Co., Ltd. has encountered controversy following complaints from a group of U.S. lawmakers, led by Senate majority leader Harry Reid, who chided the U.S. Olympic Committee for not providing U.S. Olympians with domestically produced uniforms last week. …
New in Ceasefire, 17.7.2012
Multinational apparel company Adidas has turned itself into a global branding juggernaut whilst simultaneously avoiding any public scrutiny over the working conditions of its factory workers. Ashok Kumar explores the development of the global anti-sweatshop movement and shows how two decades of activism have culminated in a new multi-nation campaign against the company. …
China Economic Net, 16.7.2012
More than 60 percent of the 16 places in China that adjusted their minimum wages in 2012 saw those wages increase less this year than they had last.
Data showed that the minimum wages paid in Beijing, Tianjin, Shenzhen and other places increased less than they had in 2011, Beijing Business News reported.
The minimum wage in Tianjin increased the least among the 16 cities and provinces that made adjustments to the payment standards, going from 1,160 yuan ($181.9) in 2011 to 1,310 yuan this year, up 12.9 percent year-on-year. The year before, the city’s minimum wage had gone up by 26 percent year-on-year. …
Simon Birch, guardian.co.uk, 6.7.2012
Twenty years of campaigning for workers’ rights changed the corporate culture of one of the world’s biggest brands – and the sportswear industry
With three weeks until the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, activists are busy cranking out yet another round of anti-sweat shop campaigns and shock-horror exposes. But do these campaigns really make any difference? Perhaps surprisingly, the answer is yes. …
Firms ‘ignore wage hike law’. Many aren’t paying out new rates, activists say
The Yingluck Shinawatra government has come under fire for its failure to order employers to adopt the 300-baht minimum daily wage policy.
… In the first month after the new wage policy took effect on April 1, the Thai Labour Solidarity Committee, a labour rights and welfare non-governmental organisation, received 73 complaints about employers failing to increase pay. Since then, the number of complaints has mushroomed to 5,134, according to tallies from the committee’s eight complaint centres.
… Meanwhile, up to 2,168 workers, mostly in garment and clothing factories, have complained they encountered unpleasant changes in employment, including job transfers and a cut in fringe benefits. …
Adidas Blog, Bill Anderson, 10.7.2012
Those of you who follow the mainstream media will have seen some not-so-positive-news in the press in recent weeks regarding working conditions in some countries. A series of stories – triggered by the release of reports from some labour rights groups – have run in the newspapers alleging that the sporting goods industry uses “sweatshops” and pays “poverty wages”. adidas, as the Official Sportswear Partner of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, features prominently. These are not new claims. …
But have you ever asked yourself what lies behind a statement or sound bite that claims, for example, that a factory worker earns “as little as 34 pence an hour”. What does it mean? To the western reader it seems unjust, unfair and undeserving. Why are people working for so little? Surely this is exploitation?
BBC News, Dhaka, 17.7.2012
Recent protests by labourers in Bangladesh turned violent and damaged some factories
Majeda Akter Toma had many dreams when she started working in a garment factory near the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka about five years ago. Though her wages were low, she thought the job gave her an opportunity to escape from grinding poverty in her village in north-western Bangladesh. A family of five depended on her earnings. Now she’s decided to go back to her village. “In the last two years, food prices have doubled and our house rent has been hiked by more than 50%,” she tells the BBC. “But our salary did not go up. We are struggling to make our ends meet. …
Pakistan Daily Times, 18.7.2012
The Punjab government is incapable of implementing the Minimum Wages (Amendment) Act 2012 in small factories across the province, Daily Times has learnt. …
In the absence of a proper mechanism to monitor the implementation of the government laws, the exploitation of semi-skilled and unskilled workers has continued unabated in small factories, sources said. …
… It does not matter whether the government sets minimum labour wages at Rs 7,000 or Rs 9,000 because the owners of small factories pay unskilled workers according to their will, he said. He said the minimum wages cannot be implemented where trade unions did not exist such as in small industrial units run by only 20 to 30 workers as the government or its machinery had no presence at the grassroot level to protect the rights of the poor labourers who had already been hit hard by poverty and accept whatever wages were offered to them. …
TE Blog, Liesl Truscott, 18.7.2012
… Biodiversity – So what does the Eco-Index have to say? Currently classified as a ‘placeholder’ on the Eco-Index, the Eco-Index Working Group (EWG) promotes biodiversity in the following way: „As humans strive to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and scale of the production of the raw materials and finished products, there are often species which become victims of progress. This lens is intended to reflect this difficult to measure, but important to recognize, impact. Often the elimination or the pressuring of species can have ripple effects that go way beyond the immediate obvious impact.“ …
China Daily, 17.7.2012
Are your out-of-fashion dresses, shirts and pants still in the back of your wardrobe or in the garbage can?
In Shanghai, though old clothes have a future after all, now that 520 clothing recycling bins have been distributed throughout neighborhoods in the city.
Rather than simply being recycled, some of the donated sweaters will be unknit and remade into child-size ones, which will go to poor pupils in Guizhou, Shandong and Yunnan provinces before October, said Yang Yinghong, head of the recycling company, Shanghai Yuanyuan Industrial Co. …
… He is not worried about his source of clothes, since surveys show Shanghai residents spend an average of nearly 20,000 yuan ($3,100) every year on fashion. Meanwhile, they throw out at least 130,000 tons of used clothes every year. …
5. COTTON and other fibres
Daily Times, Pakstian, 18.7.2012
The country exported a record number of 1.5 million cotton bales in July to June 2011-12, which is 50 percent more as compared with 1.0 million bales exported in July to June 2011, besides the textile sector also bought the highest number of bales, exporters said on Monday.
More than 1.5 million cotton bales were exported with proceeds of more than $425 million during July to June 2012, said Pakistan Yarn Merchant Association member and exporter Ghulam Rabbani. …
Jim Witkin, guardian.co.uk, 12.7.2012
US legislation will require companies to disclose their use of conflict minerals and it’s an opportunity to get supply chains in order, says Jim Witkin
… The Dodd-Frank legislation will require publicly-traded companies who use these materials in their products to disclose whether it comes from conflict areas. The US Securities and Exchange Commission is still writing the disclosure rules, which it expects to finalise later this summer. …
… For companies preparing for Dodd-Frank, Radovich also recommends taking the opportunity to consider improving transparency throughout their entire supply chain. “Don’t look at the conflict minerals issue in isolation,” she advises. “Use it to look at your supply chain holistically. There will always be other issues, like labour and environmental concerns, which you may be required to report on eventually.”
Good Practice in Socially Responsible Public Procurement. Approaches To Verification From Across Europe. (PDF)
The LANDMARK consortium, c/o WEED e.V. 2012
University of Wisconsin Launches Historic Challenge to Adidas over Sweatshop Conditions for College-Branded Apparel
Jonathan Rosenblum, Center for Media and Democracy’s PR Watch, 14.7.2012
The University of Wisconsin Board of Regents on Friday filed a precedent-setting breach of contract claim against sportswear brand Adidas, after the company failed to comply with anti-sweatshop provisions requiring they provide certain benefits to workers who produce goods that bear the mark of the university. This is the first time a U.S. university has sought to enforce a global anti-sweatshop code of conduct in a U.S. court of law. However, student and faculty members of a university committee advising Acting Chancellor David Ward expressed disappointment that the university had declined to summarily cancel its five-year, $11 million contract with Adidas. Workers in an Indonesian factory have been seeking more than $3 million in severance pay and other benefits since a contractor working for several U.S. brands abruptly shut down operations. According to the filing, Adidas does not dispute that benefits are owed but “has asserted that the Contract does not require it to guarantee the unpaid benefits” of a contractor. CMD will publish a more detailed account of the action during the coming days. The papers that seek a declaratory judgment against Adidas are attached below.University of Wisconsin Lawsuit vs. Adidas
… Many public entities have asked for better guidance in drafting sweatfree procurement laws to ensure their maximum effectiveness. The Consortium recently took an important step forward toward this goal. The newly elected Board of Directors approved a new Sweatfree Model Policy. The result of many months of research and discussions with experts and stakeholders, this Policy is a recommendation of language for cities and states to consider when crafting their sweatfree procurement laws and rules.. …
… The new Policy provides more clarity on how contractors should meet ILO standards, providing specific examples of non-compliant behavior. There is also more comprehensive language on how public entities could implement a living wage policy for factory workers, including the possibility of utilizing a “wage ladder”, where wages are gradually increased over time. An ongoing challenge is to reconcile the ILO Conventions with local law in various countries that have weaker standards, for example, on freedom of association. The new Policy handles this issue by requiring as much compliance as possible.
DAILY Mirror, Tuesday, 17 July 2012
THE OUTCRY of American lawmakers about the decision of the US Olympic Committee to source the uniforms of the country’s Olympic athletes from China has given a new spin to US-China relations. While China is yet to respond to the outcry, and rightly so, the debate that’s brewing in US on whether it was right to give Chinese firms the order to manufacture the uniforms presents another side of the globalisation narrative that America has always flaunted.
For the US lawmakers, the fact that Chinese textile units are providing the uniforms is a severe grouse for the simple reason that many textile units in the country are going through a prolonged period of crisis with some having gone belly up and facing bankruptcy. Americans are are losing their jobs, and here is China, stepping in to manufacture uniforms when these surviving units could very well have made them, the lawmakers contend.
The US Olympic Committee says the decision was all about sponsorship support, adding that the US Olympic team is privately funded. …
China Daily, 21.7.2012
Chinese companies are helping to train high-end business talent for Africa, as the lack of such professionals has become a bottleneck for increased China-Africa business cooperation.
According to a recent report by People’s Daily, 31 students from Angola received their bachelor’s degrees in July from Changsha University of Science and Technology in Hunan province.
When they return to Angola, they will be vital to the country’s efforts to improve infrastructure, said Wen Gang, general manager of China Road & Bridge Corp, which sponsored the tuition and living expenses for the students during their five-year study in China. …
Daily Star Bangladesh, 24.7.2012
Production hampered amid clash, vandalism, attack on factories
At least 50 people were injured and production at five ready-made garment factories in Ashulia, on the outskirts of the capital, remained suspended yesterday due to clashes between police and workers. …
New Age BD, 20.7.2012
Clothing workers on Thursday requested the government to revise their wages in keeping with sky rocketing prices. Bangladesh Garment Workers Unity Council raised the demand at a demonstration in the city.
… They asked the government to allow the workers the right to form trade unions at apparel factories.
The council held the demonstration for realizing its six-point demand including providing the workers with low cost housing and transportation. …
Daily Star, 19.7.2012
The world’s top buyers of Bangladeshi garment products yesterday gathered in Dhaka to share their concerns over persistent labour unrest in the industry and to finalise an SOS message to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. …
“Industry disruptions and worker grievances are now impacting our ability to direct businesses to Bangladesh.” It was the unanimous view of the representatives, who attended the unprecedented meeting at Walmart’s Gulshan office in Dhaka in the morning.
… “As significant buyers of apparels and textile products from Bangladesh, our companies have been observing with great concern the current garment factory worker unrest,” began the letter to the PM. “Unrest among the workers in this sector is seen as risk among our companies and could cause damage to the reputation of Bangladesh as a reliable sourcing market.”
Daily Star, 18.7.2012
Things are looking up for the readymade garment sector despite the precarious state of the global economy, as international buyers have considerably increased their orders from Bangladesh this year.
“The confidence of international buyers in Bangladeshi products is increasing,” said a German buyer who preferred not to be named.
Thanks to price competitiveness, improvement in labour laws and skills and upgraded production facilities, many clothing retailers have increased their order volumes from Bangladesh by 15 percent to 25 percent. …
Phnom Phen Post, 20.7 2012
Little more than a week after garment workers were granted a US$10 monthly increase in allowances and bonuses, thousands of workers at a number of factories joined strikes with a clear message yesterday: they need more.
… “The workers demanded five points, including that [management] allow three union officials and six workers who were sacked in May to go back to work, and that they pay workers $15 for transportation and accommodation,” he said.
Auch in der Textilwirtschaft entwickelt sich China von der Werkbank der Welt zu einem führenden Absatzmarkt. Deshalb plant ein Bremer Mittelständler hier den Verkauf eigener Jacken.
… „China ist kein Billigstandort mehr“ … Das hat etwas mit der Qualifikation des Personals zu tun, mit der besseren Anbindung Südchinas an den Weltmarkt und mit dem schlechten Ruf von „Made in Bangladesch“. Aber es liegt auch an den Kosten. „China ist kein Billigstandort mehr“, sagt der zweite Ospig-Eigentümer Peter Jasching. „Unsere Arbeitskosten steigen um 15 bis 20 Prozent im Jahr, und die chinesische Währung wertet immer mehr auf.“ Der Mindestlohn in der Provinz Guangdong (Kanton) beträgt 1300 Yuan im Monat (170 Euro). Doch dafür finde man keine guten Leute, weiß Morley Hui, der Geschäftsführer der Hongkonger Tochtergesellschaft Ospinter, die das Werk betreibt. Deshalb zahlen die Deutschen das Doppelte bis Dreifache.
Rechnet man die Sozialabgaben, das Essen und die Unterkunft der Wanderarbeiter hinzu, dann betragen die Kosten rund 4500 Yuan im Monat (580 Euro). „Das ist so viel wie in Tunesien oder Rumänien“, sagt Jasching, „deutlich mehr als in Bangladesch“. …
WAGES OF SLOWDOWN PART -1. Season of layoffs
The Financial Express, India, 23.7.2012
India’s economic slowdown, coupled with global uncertainty, has begun to cost jobs. A close look at key centres hit, from Mumbai’s financial markets and Bangalore’s tech firms to Tirupur’s garment factories and Keonjhar’s mines. …
Financial Express, 17.7.2012
In the last one and a half months, as many as 10 textile processing units have closed down in Surat as they failed to cope with the rising prices of gas and raw materials like colour and chemicals. Three of these 10 processing houses — Bhagwati Dyeing and Printing Mills, Rajlaxmi Mills, and Silver Dyeing House, all at the Pandesara GIDC — downed their shutters in the last few days, taking the number of closed gas-based units in the last six months to 30. Besides rising prices of gas and raw materials, experts say, shortage of manpower has also led to the closure of these units. …
Business Standard, 18.7.2012
Two years ago, the narrow roads from the railway station to the Tirupur Exporters Association (TEA) office in Tirupur would take around 40 minutes to navigate. Today, devoid of traffic, it takes just 15 minutes. Back then, an occasional BMW, or a Mercedes, would whiz by. Today, none can be seen; what dots the roads instead is a plethora of godowns with rental signs.
Towns used to unprecedented booms — erstwhile mining Mecca, Bellary, is another example — invariably have to weather the onslaught of a bust, if the very underpinnings of their success are threatened. With Bellary, it was a mining ban that reduced it to a ghost town. For Tirupur — a town that booked Rs 12,000 crore in business last year — the Damocles sword that finally fell was a Madras High Court diktat in 2011 which ordered the 720-odd of the 3,000 dyeing units, which include manufacturing of knitwear products, in the textile town to shut down, because they were polluting the Noyyal river that runs through it. …
The Hindu, 18.7.2012
Calling for regulation of Sumangali or camp labour scheme that provides work for young women in spinning and garment factories, a regional consultation of NGOs and civil societies working in the field, has appealed for monitoring committee by the labour department to periodically visit companies to ensure compliance with standards of International Labour Organisation. …
The Minimum Wage Order 2012, which was gazetted today, will take effect on Jan 1 for employers who employ six workers or more. …
… According to the gazette, the minimum wage rate was fixed at RM900 per month or RM4.33 per hour for the peninsular and RM800 per month or RM3.85 per hour for Sabah and Sarawak.
The Express Tribune Blog, 23.7.2012
Throughout the history of football world cups and other major FIFA events, the world has seen one brand deliver the most astounding soccer balls, carved to perfection and tested in adverse conditions to exceed all FIFA standards for an ‘Official Match Ball’.
Yes, we’re talking about the German brand, Adidas. …
Express Tribue, 19.7.2012
Textiles constitute the bulk of Pakistan’s exports which have declined by over 9.64% during the last 11 months.
Focus Taiwan, 20.7.2012
The Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) has not yet decided on whether or not to adjust the basic wage upward, or on how high such a raise would be, an official of the Cabinet-level agency said Friday. Chen Huei-ling, head of the CLA’s Department of Labor Standards, said the issue will be discussed in a basic wage screening committee Aug. 2. …
… The United Daily News reported that the minimum hourly wage will be raised by 11 percent from NT$103 (US$3.4) to NT$115 this year, citing Labor Affairs Minister Wang Ju-hsuan. As for the minimum monthly wage, Wang said the scale of adjustment will not be as high as that for the hourly wage. …
Financial Times, 22.6.2012
Puma will have to stop using leather in its famous football boots and trainers because it is such an environmentally damaging product, the sportswear company’s executive chairman has said.
“I think eventually we’ll have to look at alternative materials, there’s no question about it,” Jochen Zeitz told the Financial Times in an interview at the UN Rio+20 earth summit. “We should eat less meat, all of us, and we should use less leather, I mean that’s reality.” ….
China Daily, 19.7.2012
Adidas Group China, a unit of German sports clothing manufacturer Adidas AG, is continuing its aggressive push into Chinese lower-tier cities with the planned opening of up to 600 stores. …
Sporting goods and apparel maker Adidas AG is closing its only company-owned sportswear factory in China later this year to streamline manufacturing, a company spokeswoman said on Wednesday. …
Guardian Professional, 17.7.2012
When Patagonia became California’s first benefit corporation or B-Corp in January this year, it marked the pinnacle for a new corporate form that commits companies to include environmental and social factors in their business decisions. …
But for Patagonia, its new articles of incorporation are just a waymarker on a long journey since its founder, pioneering rock climber Yvon Chouinard, started making equipment to replace pitons, the metal spikes that damaged rock walls in the 1950s.
10. NGO CAMPAIGNS & PROJECTS
Industrial Unions, 17.07.2012
The international Play Fair Alliance has today called on international sportswear brands and their suppliers to participate meaningfully in discussions to advance an important agreement on freedom of association in Indonesia.
The protocol on freedom of association was signed last year in Jakarta by textile, garment and footwear unions, sportswear MNCs and key manufacturers. The protocol contains a number of provisions, all with the aim of creating time and space for trade union activities and promoting better industrial relations in sportswear producing factories. To date adidas, Nike, Puma, New Balance, Pentland and Asics, as well as a number of their Indonesian suppliers, have committed to abide by the agreement. …
Playfair 2012, July 2012
“We are forced to take overtime work so at least it supplements our take-home pay. Otherwise, how can I survive with such meagre income, how can I pay rent for the small room where I stay, cope with my daily necessities, and send some money for my family in the province? At the end of the day it is zero balance; there are no savings left for whatever uncertain things may happen to me and my family.”
A worker at an adidas Olympics supplier factory in the Philippines, working on minimum wage for 10 years without a pay-rise. …
11. BOOKS, REPORTS, REVIEWS, SCIENCE
Indonesia Baseline Report: Worker Perspectives from the Factory and Beyond
Better Work Indonesia, 19.7.2012
This report synthesizes worker survey results with country, regional and industry-specific trends. The purpose of this is to identify how Better Work Indonesia could affect workers’ lives inside and outside of the factory, and devise programme innovations accordingly.
Workers reported many concerns with health issues. Thirst emerged as a serious issue with 53.5 per cent of workers reporting severe thirst often or every day. …
An alarmingly high percentage (85.2 per cent) of workers reported concerns over sexual harassment. …
Bonded (child) labour in the South Indian Garment Industry. An Update of Debate and Action on the ‘Sumangali Scheme’
SOMO – Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations & ICN – India Committee of the Netherlands, July 2012 (PDF)
In a year time, the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) and the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN) have published two major reports documenting the exploitation of Dalit girls in the South Indian garment industry that produces for European and US markets.
This update zooms in on on-going abuses in the Tamil Nadu garment industry, as well as on the debate and actions to tackle the `Sumangali Scheme´, that is fuelled by the findings and recommendations of the SOMO and ICN reports.
Der Idsteiner Outdoorausstatter Jack Wolfskin hat seinen zweiten Lieferanten Sozialbericht veröffentlicht und erlaubt in diesem Jahr noch tiefere Einblicke in Auditsystem und Lieferantenperformance. …
Blog Shirahime, 18.7.2012
Fashion & Sustainability – Design for Change
By: Kate Fletcher, Lynda Grose
… In Summary: The book is a pleasure to read as an expert, as a student, and even only as an ‘interested outsider’.
Across the full length there are numerous details, insights and facts that are, if not unknown even to people from within the world of sustainability in fashion, at the very least presented in a way and context that invites to further reflection. …