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Behind the 'Made in Europe' label

Nov 27

Written by:
27/11/2017 11:24  RssIcon

Guest blog from our remote researchers 

Given the recent spotlight on the Asian garment industry, many consumers may equate the label, 'Made in Europe', with fairer working practices.

However, Europe's Sweatshops, a new report from the campaign group Clean Clothes Campaign highlights how scores of companies are sourcing garments from countries in Eastern European where workers have limited rights and poverty wages are the norm.


Image; Clean CLothes


The report points out that designer labels, including Stella McCartney, Armani and Gucci, as well as high street brands, like TopShop and H&M are now using factories in Georgia, Serbia, Ukraine and Hungary.

Sourcing garments from these countries allows their goods to be labelled 'Made in Europe'  which may reassure consumers keen to distance themselves from the sweatshop conditions normally associated with Asia.

Yet, the CCC report found that in all of these countries, the minimum wage was set well below subsistence levels. For example, the minimum monthly salary in Ukraine is a mere 89 Euros (although the research found it was common practice not to pay the minimum wage in Ukraine as well as Serbia). As elsewhere, women form the majority of workers in Eastern Europe's garment industry, however CCC estimates that they earn between 18-17% less than their male counterparts.

“Sometimes, we simply have nothing to eat”, one woman working in a garment factory in Ukraine told researchers. Another worker in Hungary complained, “Our wages are just enough to pay for energy, water and heating bills”.

Interviews by CCC with over 100 garment workers in Serbia, Hungary and Ukraine also unearthed intolerable working conditions, such as being forced to work in temperatures of 30 degrees without air conditioning and unpaid forced overtime. Workers in Serbia reported being threatened with violence or the sack when they complained about such conditions.

A host of high street and designer brands were cited in the research as using factories in Eastern Europe, including Armani, Benetton, Burberry, Dolce & Gabbana, Esprit, Gucci, Hugo Boss, H&M, Liz Clairbourne, Marks and Spencer, Mango, Next, Prada, Tesco, Topshop, Tommy Hilfiger, Triumph, Versace and Zara.

The Clean Clothes Campaign is calling upon these brands to start paying a living wage, and to work together with their suppliers to eradicate illegal and inhumane working conditions.

The full report can be found on the Clean Clothes Campaign website. 


This blog was written and added to our corporate database by Una Bartley from the Ethical Consumer remote researchers project. Find out more.










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