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India: Report finds business practices of major apparel brands are 'undermining' progress on eradicating labour exploitation in garment supply chains

Author: Andrew Crane, Vivek Soundararajan, Michael Bloomfield, Laura J. Spence & Genevieve LeBaron, Published on: 9 September 2019

"Top fashion brands’ business practices are undermining progress on ending garment worker exploitation, reveals new report", 4 September 2019

Research...found that major brands impose short production windows, cost pressures and constant order fluctuations. These make it difficult for local suppliers to comply with the standards of working conditions that companies including Nike, H&M, Adidas, Primark and Walmart expect.

The report... shares...findings from a project that focused on the South Indian garment industry...Suppliers...have improved their working conditions over the past decade. However, heightened competition from lower-cost countries...has meant that brands can force prices down, leaving little scope for further ethical improvements.

The research found that social audits...are frequently manipulated and cheated by suppliers...to retain business...Suppliers complain that...ethical certification systems are too costly and add little value.

Interviews...uncovered...evidence that while top-down initiatives from brands have led to some improvements...they have failed to eradicate labour exploitation....

...The researchers are calling for the formation of a new taskforce in Tirupur to solve the labour issues facing the industry...They highlight three key issues to achieve decent work and economic growth: freedom of movement, health and safety, and worker-driven social responsibility – and have made 12 recommendations to achieve this...

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