In these guides we notice that nearly half of the big clothes shops
companies are now scoring our best rating for their supply chain management, an improvement since we last looked at the sector.
This has been the result of many years of campaigns against clothing retailers to improve working conditions of workers within their supply chains.
Journey towards transparency: (click to enlarge)
Yet, even with companies achieving high scores for having best practice policies for workers’ rights in their supply chains, investigations are still finding issues. Virtually all of the clothes shops still get a worst rating in our Workers’ Rights column as do half of the outdoor gear
For example, a report by SOMO and the India Committee of the Netherlands, in October 2014, highlighted the abuse of girls and women workers in the South Indian textile industry. Companies such as H&M and Next, who get our best rating for supply chain management, were said to be sourcing from these factories. Subsequently, H&M stopped using the factories but nevertheless it highlights the complexity of supply chains and the need to closely monitor what is going on.
Made in Europe
Due to complex supply chains and poor workers’ rights issues in Asia, it is perhaps unsurprising to find that many clothing companies are now looking to bring production back to Europe and in some cases back to the UK. Plus, as the Guardian reported
, “When a country such as Turkey, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia or Bulgaria appears on a label, the brand may also get a boost to their reputation, as consumers assume the ethics behind a skirt made in Portugal are better than those behind one made in China.”
But, sadly, it seems that this doesn’t guarantee that the clothes are made in decent conditions. In 2014 the Clean Clothes Campaign released a report on clothing factories in eastern Europe
. It details appallingly low wages, long hours and abuse. Safety issues may not be at the same rock-bottom level as in parts of Asia, but Bulgaria, Macedonia and Romania all have lower minimum wages than China.