CHINA: Ban urged after factories found sandblasting
Campaigners are calling for a mandatory global ban on sandblasting
Renewed calls are being made for a global ban on the practice of sandblasting denim jeans, after research by labour rights groups found the finishing process is still widespread in China.
The calls follow a new report into conditions in six denim factories in the Chinese province of Guangdong, a region responsible for half of the world's entire production of blue jeans.
The report, 'Breathless for Blue Jeans: Health hazards in China's denim factories,' finds that sandblasting is still widespread in China in order to give jeans a worn or 'distressed' look.
This is despite most Western brands banning the practice three years ago because of its link to silicosis, a deadly lung disease that has already caused the deaths of many garment workers.
The new research, based on interviews with workers in the factories themselves, also revealed that workers are exposed to other dangerous finishing techniques to distress denim, including hand sanding, polishing, dye application and spraying chemicals such as potassium permanganate, with limited protective gear and inadequate training in the proper use of equipment.
Activists say factory workers are forced to endure these dangerous conditions for up to 15 hours a day in order to make ends meet, with the basic minimum wage often as low as GBP116 (CNY1,100) a month.
Campaigners are calling for a mandatory global ban on sandblasting in the garment industry, along with improved protection for workers involved in all other denim finishing techniques.
"Only a complete ban on sandblasting will end this deadly practice," said Dominique Muller from Clean Clothes Campaign and author of the report.
"Despite brands' promises to the contrary, this lethal method continues to be used. It is clear that voluntary bans by brands are not enough to protect workers. Brands have failed to undertake due diligence in ensuring alternative methods are safe and workers protected."
The report was produced by IHLO, the Hong Kong liaison office of the international trade union movement; Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM), also based in Hong Kong; the Clean Clothes Campaign; and the workers' rights pressure group War on Want.
An interactive databank with intelligence on the major apparel sourcing countries
- Supply chain takeaways from Sourcing at MAGIC
- Why voters don’t want more global supply chains
- Denim and athleisure top picks for back-to-school
- What's 3D-printing doing for apparel and footwear?
- Labelling – The importance of the fine print
- H&M takes action over Myanmar child labour breach
- Vietnam garment industry calls for strategy update
- US Q2 in brief - Express, The Buckle, Stein Mart
- Zara USA faces US$5m deceptive pricing lawsuit
- Li & Fung joins FTA in sustainable sourcing pledge
- Too Many Standards
- Southeast Asia strategic sourcing review – a focus on Cambodia, Vietnam and Myanmar
- Under Armour, Inc. (UA) - Financial and Strategic SWOT Analysis Review
- Central America strategic sourcing review - a focus on Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras
- Myanmar's Garment Sector in 2015 - now with updated members' directory