Behind the Barcode
The new report released in conjunction with the 2nd year anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse revealed that:
- 75% don’t know the source of all their fabrics
- Over 85% of companies are not paying their workers enough to meet basic needs
- 48% haven’t traced where their clothes are being made
The new research, conducted by international aid and development organisation Baptist World Aid Australia has been released to help educate consumers to shop ethically two years after the 2013 Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh, which killed 1,133 and injured over 2,500 workers.
The findings resulted in a graded scorecard of 219 major fashion brands, based on their policies, supply chain transparency and traceability, monitoring programs and worker rights, and looked at what companies have been doing to ensure workers in their supply chains are being protected from exploitation. When these four categories are brought together and implemented well, they should enable improvements to working conditions and reduce the risk and incidence of tragedies across the fashion supply chain.
The report also assessed how much companies know about their suppliers as traceability is the first concrete step a company can take to realising they’re responsible for workers making products in every stage of production. It found that 48% haven’t traced where their clothes are being made at cut-make-trim level. Only 25% of companies had fully traced their inputs, and 9% their cotton.
On a scale of A – F (A being the best and F being the worse) two of the worst overall performers in traceability and transparency were well known brands Skechers and Quiksilver. Quiksilver (Quiksilver, Roxy, DC) was awarded a D grade, whilst Skechers received an overall F grade both for performing very poorly in traceability and transparency. Both companies failed in the ability to supply a public list of suppliers and a list of countries where suppliers could be located.
However, where changes have been made, progress has been encouraging. Improved traceability of suppliers through supply chains and increases in worker wages showed significant impact. Additionally, it was noted that changes like publishing lists of direct suppliers and paying wages that meet workers’ basic needs are high impact with long lasting results. Fruit of the Loom and Inditex (Zara) in particular were praised for their work in creating more transparent supply chains, gaining an A and A- respectively.
The new report is launched to coincide with Fashion Revolution Dayon 24 April, the anniversary of Rana Plaza. A global campaign running in 71 countries worldwide, which encourages fashion lovers to challenge global fashion brands to demonstrate commitment to transparency across the length of the value chain.
“If companies don’t know how and where their products are made, then there’s no way for them to ensure their workers are protected. Transparency is important because it shows a company’s willingness to be held accountable for its supply chain and this builds up public trust.” says Orsola de Castro, co-founder of Fashion Revolution Day.
Fellow co-founder Carry Somers said: “The new report shows why we need a Fashion Revolution. We don’t know the true cost of the things we buy. In Bangladesh for example, the current minimum wage of US $68 per month falls short of the US $104 per month, which is considered a fair living wage. But it doesn’t take much for the end-consumer to make a difference to the lives of those making our clothes. Research shows that an additional 30c per t-shirt would ensure living wages are met in Bangladesh. The fashion industry supply chain is fractured and producers have become faceless. This is costing lives.
“Brands and retailers may not know where their clothes are made, or be listening to what the people in their supply chain are saying, but they will most certainly be paying attention to what their customers are saying. We have incredible power as consumers, if we choose to use it”.
Garment manufacturing is the world’s third largest industry, behind automobiles and electronics, worth some $3 trillion. Fashion and textiles is one of the most labour dependent industries on the planet, employing hundreds of millions of people from cotton farm to final product.
You can download the full 2015 Behind the Barcode report here www.behindthebarcode.org.au