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9 Sep 2019

Clean Clothes Campaign

Report alleges "systemic failures of corporate-controlled social auditing"

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"FIG LEAF FOR FASHION: How social auditing protects brands and fails workers", September 2019

...Evidence presented throughout the report clearly shows how the social audit industry has failed spectacularly in its proffered mission of protecting workers’ safety and improving working conditions. Instead, it has protected the image and reputation of brands and their business models, while standing in the way of more effective models that include mandatory transparency and binding commitments to remediation.

The report offers glaring examples of corporate negligence through case examples from the past decade including the Ali Enterprises factory fire in Pakistan in September 2012... the devastating collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh in April 2013... and the July 2017 boiler explosion in the Multifabs factory in Bangladesh... Each of these factories had been assessed and declared safe by several of the prevailing auditing companies, including TÜV Rheinland, Bureau Veritas, and RINA, using the standard, methodology and guidance of leading compliance initiatives such as amfori BSCI and SAI...

These foreseeable and avoidable disasters exemplify systemic failures of corporate-controlled social auditing; an industry which in the words of one auditor goes “as far as the brands want us to go”. This industry is operating with impunity... [and] these initiatives continue to grow, with revenues and profits of the industry key players increasing over the years, in tandem with the growing number of audited factories. The industry has been able to keep these many failings under the radar because of its notorious lack of transparency and... accountability... The structural causes of these social auditing failings... are explored throughout the report, with extensive recommendations offered to numerous industry stakeholders, including calls for more transparency, accountability, and genuine worker involvement...