April 21, 2017 - 2:36pm
A coalition of labour and human rights organisations and global unions has urged global apparel companies to publish information about their production sources.
The coalition, in a recent report, reveals that at least 29 global apparel companies have published information about the factories that manufacture their products
According to the report, 17 leading international apparel and footwear brands will meet minimum standards for supply chain transparency by the end of 2017.
The 40-page report titled “Follow the Thread: The Need for Supply Chain Transparency in the Garment and Footwear Industry” was released Thursday ahead of the fourth anniversary of the Rana Plaza building collapse that killed more than 1100 garment workers in Bangladesh.
The nine-member coalition endorsed Transparency Pledge last year.
The Transparency Pledge draws upon existing good practices of global apparel companies and sets a floor, not ceiling, for supply chain transparency.
It asks apparel companies to publish important information about supplier factories and their authorised subcontractors.
Transparency is a powerful tool for promoting corporate accountability for garment workers’ rights in global supply chains, the coalition said, adding it allows workers and labour and human rights advocates to alert the company to rights abuses in its supplier factories.
“A basic level of supply chain transparency in the garment industry should be the norm in the 21st century,” Aruna Kashyap, senior counsel for the women’s rights division at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.
“Openness about a company’s supply chain is better for workers, better for human rights, and shows that companies care about preventing abuse in their supply chains.”
Citing Rana plaza building collapse and Tazreen Fashions fire in Bangladesh, the statement added that afterward, labour advocates could not determine which companies’ products were made at these factories and had to hunt for the brand labels from the factory sites and interview surviving workers to determine who were responsible.
“After Rana Plaza and other disasters, human rights groups, unions, and some companies and investors have seen how important transparency is for preventing abuses and for efforts at accountability,” said Ben Vanpeperstraete, lobby and advocacy coordinator at the Clean Clothes Campaign International Office.
“Companies need to put transparency into practice to show that they respect human rights and decent working conditions,” he added.
“Adhering to a minimum level of supply chain transparency in the pledge is important for accountability efforts,” said Judy Gearhart, executive director at the International Labour Rights Forum.
“Companies can do more, but they should at least start with this basic step.”
The coalition urges companies that have not aligned with the pledge to do so by December and to help galvanise the apparel industry toward a basic threshold level of supply chain transparency.
The coalition consists of Clean Clothes Campaign, Human Rights Watch, IndustriALL Global Union, the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable, the International Labour Rights Forum, the International Trade Union Confederation, the Maquila Solidarity Network, UNI Global Union, and the Worker Rights.