Blog: Leonie BarrieRhetoric or reality?

Leonie Barrie | 11 February 2004

Hollywood actress Minnie Driver is helping to publicise the plight of Cambodian garment workers in a new Oxfam campaign, but perhaps the finger of blame should be pointed closer to home. The charity has released a report accusing retailers of inflicting poor working conditions on millions of women workers around the world to feed ever-rising consumer expectations of cheap produce, and says they increasingly pass on costs without paying more for the end product. It wants to encourage consumers to "not only buy smart but buy ethical,” and is calling on large corporations to reconsider their buying practices.

While most business leaders applaud the rhetoric of global corporate social responsibility, the reality of the corporate business model is somewhat different when faced with shareholders demanding returns on their investments and consumers who have learnt to shop around for the best deals. 

And even legislation isn’t infallible. Little coverage has been given to the fact that Cambodia was praised by Oxfam for a unique factory inspection system set up by the UN's International Labour Organisation which it has helped abolish the country’s sweatshops. By contrast, in the UK last weekend 19 cockle pickers, reported to be labouring for as little as £1 per day, were swept to their deaths. Even in supposedly developed countries, with a network of legislation to prevent such incidents, it seems that some people labour beyond the reach of the law.

CAMBODIA: Minnie Driver Champions Textile Workers' Rights


BLOG

US border tax a contentious issue

Fresh from their disappointment at seeing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade deal abandoned last month with an executive order by President Donald Trump, the US apparel and footwear sector...

BLOG

Primark's sustainable cotton programme takes shape

With the ultimate aim of ensuring all the cotton in its products is sourced sustainably, value clothing retailer Primark is adamant that having a business model focused on offering the lowest prices o...

BLOG

Trump administration starts to shake up trade

Last week we marked the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States by taking a closer look at what's at stake for the textile and apparel trade – especially his promises t...

BLOG

Likely shifts in the sourcing landscape in 2017

Continuing our look at what lies ahead for the apparel industry and its supply chain in 2017, the panel of industry experts consulted by just-style last week tackled likely shifts in the sourcing land...

just-style homepage



Forgot your password?