Blog: A focus on worker welfare issues
Leonie Barrie | 31 May 2011
International clothing brands and retailers including C&A, Carrefour, Esprit, H&M, Inditex and Levi Strauss have collectively imposed a voluntary ban on sandblasting in their global supply chains - and are calling on other firms to join them. Firms who have signed the pledge also say they will work with their suppliers to make the transition to alternative methods, and say they will take the necessary steps to ensure the ban is effectively applied.
US denim giant Levi Strauss is also taking separate steps to improve the everyday lives of the people who make its products, and is working on new terms of engagement (TOE) for its suppliers for the first time in 20 years. The goal is to move on from pure compliance to a more holistic approach that also looks at wider welfare and community issues, with the new conditions set to be in place from May 2012.
Meanwhile, a row has erupted between Indian apparel exporters and textile groups over claims that the government's recent restrictions on cotton yarn exports have led to stockpiles. Around 1998 Indian spinning mills took part in a one-day closure to highlight the sector's problems, and have slashed production by around a third in a bid to reduce inventories. But apparel producers say the mills' problems are of their own making.
India's decision to replace its export ban on cotton yarn with a new notification that requires exports to be registered with the directorate general of foreign trade is just one of a number of new restrictions imposed by G20 economies in the last six months. Collectively the measures are feeding fears that protectionism may be gaining momentum following the recent global crisis, according to the chiefs of three international agencies.
While for UK retailer Marks & Spencer there is a new focus on optimising its store space, from stocking products tailored to local needs to revitalising its clothing ranges, as part of a three-year plan to take the company forward. The changes come after the firm booked an 11% rise in pre-tax profit for the year to GBP780.6m and grew its share of the clothing market.
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