Clothes manufacturers goal Bangladesh suppliers to offset inflation: research

Clothes manufacturers goal Bangladesh suppliers to offset inflation: research

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May resurface questions in regards to the outsourcing practices of Canadian firms

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A few of the world’s greatest clothes retailers are offsetting surging prices for uncooked supplies by squeezing their suppliers in Bangladesh, the world’s second-largest exporter of garments, a brand new research by a bunch of British researchers alleges.

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The report, based mostly on interviews with 1,000 Bangladeshi clothes producers, states that about 70 per cent of the manufacturers sourcing from these factories have been paying suppliers about the identical as earlier than the pandemic, suggesting they’ve completed little or nothing to assist their suppliers offset surging prices of uncooked supplies over the previous couple of years, nor the burden of guarding towards outbreaks of COVID-19.

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No Canadian retailer was named within the research. Nonetheless, new allegations of how Bangladeshi garment employees are exploited by worldwide clothes manufacturers might resurface questions in regards to the outsourcing practices of Canadian firms.

Canadian Tire store in downtown Toronto.
The United Steelworkers filed a grievance with the federal authorities towards Canadian Tire alleging it’s not paying a dwelling wage for employees in Bangladesh factories who make clothes for the chain’s proprietary labels. Photograph by Mark Blinch /Reuters

“It will come as no shock that Canadian manufacturers additionally haven’t elevated costs for the clothes they purchase,” mentioned Doug Olthuis, head of worldwide affairs on the Canadian workplace of the United Steelworkers union (USW). “Employees employed in these factories endure, as manufacturing unit homeowners are unable to pay dwelling wages.”

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In November, the USW filed a grievance with the Canadian authorities over allegations that Canadian Tire Corp. Ltd. was refusing to pay a dwelling wage to the hundreds of employees within the Bangladeshi factories that make garments the retailer sells beneath its Denver Hayes, Dakota, WindRiver and Helly Hansen labels.

Canadian Tire denied the allegations, insisting that it follows the native regulation and that it repeatedly tracks what its suppliers pay their employees. Canadian Tire didn’t reply to questions in regards to the nature of its relationship with suppliers, nor did Aritzia Inc. or Lululemon Athletica Inc., two of Canada’s main clothes retailers.

‘An indication of exploitation’

The brand new research’s lead creator, Muhammad Azizul, mentioned that when suppliers are underpaid, employees are those who’re impacted. He mentioned that the variety of employees employed within the factories that participated within the research after the pandemic was about 10 per cent decrease than pre-COVID ranges in 2020 regardless of an increase in clothes exports from Bangladesh.

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“Which means the present employees have needed to work loads,” mentioned Azizul, a professor on the College of Aberdeen Enterprise Faculty. “This could possibly be an indication of exploitation.”

Activists in the UK are pushing for the federal government to create a style watchdog that will make sure that any model that has shops within the nation is monitored to verify it isn’t concerned in such practices. “This sort of mechanism could possibly be helpful in Canada,” mentioned Azizul, noting that a number of the massive worldwide manufacturers which might be talked about within the report promote in Canada.

H & M Hennes & Mauritz AB, Inditex SA’s Zara, Walmart Inc. and Hole Inc. have been among the many giant worldwide retailers that have been named within the report. None responded to requests for remark.

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Olthuis mentioned his union would help actions that raised employees’ wages. However somewhat than making a watchdog, he mentioned Canada’s authorities ought to work on passing Invoice C-262, which might require companies to sort out human rights violations linked to their actions overseas, as an alternative of making a brand new “style watchdog.”

The Business Division mentioned in an emailed assertion that it remained “dedicated to introducing laws to eradicate compelled labour in Canadian provide chains and to making sure that Canadian companies working overseas will not be contributing to human rights abuses.” 

It added that it was monitoring “indicators of pressure” in provide chains as economies get well from the pandemic.

Shoppers ‘not likely conscious’

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Azizul explored how the shutting down of clothes retailers within the West throughout the pandemic in 2020 impacted producers and employees in Bangladesh, which trails solely China as a clothes exporter, regardless of being about 65 instances smaller than the Asian large.

Bangladesh employs about 4 million employees, who’re principally ladies, based on the report.

Of the 1,138 manufacturers named by the 1,000 suppliers within the research, factories mentioned that 25 per cent cancelled their orders, 19 per cent paid lower than initially agreed, 10 per cent refused to pay for the products that have been produced, and 24 per cent delayed their funds by greater than three months throughout the preliminary months of the pandemic in 2020.

The behaviour of the bigger manufacturers was worse, the report mentioned. Out of the 78 manufacturers that purchased garments from a minimum of 4 factories, 86 per cent cancelled their orders, 85 per cent diminished their costs in contrast with the unique contract, 50 per cent refused to pay, and 85 per cent of the manufacturers delayed their funds by greater than three months.

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In whole, Bangladesh’s clothes business confronted deferrals and cancellations price about US$3.7 billion in export orders by June 2020, based on the research, most of which have been destined for Europe and North America. This in flip led to hundreds of employees dropping their jobs throughout the pandemic.

In line with Moral Buying and selling Initiative, a British alliance of firms, commerce unions and non-profits whose members embrace manufacturers similar to H&M and Primark Shops Ltd., the “unfair practices” talked about within the research weren’t new.

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“There’s a want for higher accountability within the attire and textile sector and suppliers deserve a stronger voice however wanting on the element of any accountability mechanism is essential,” mentioned Peter McAllister, ETI’s government director.

Azizul mentioned he hopes the report makes shoppers in Canada and different Western nations extra conscious in regards to the evils within the world clothes provide chain.

“Shoppers will not be actually conscious of unethical behaviour,” he mentioned. “The way in which world retailers work, marketing campaign and promote, the actual message is in some way missed.”

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