Blog: Michelle RussellApparel brands implicated in Cambodia unrest

Michelle Russell | 31 March 2014

Western brands and retailers are "deeply implicated" in the current unrest gripping the Cambodian apparel sector - but they can also be part of the solution, a new report suggested last week.

The analysis by the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) highlighted the recent deaths and arrests of striking workers in Phnom Penh, the underlying causes, and what action should be taken. Among the suggested steps to tackle the situation are making sure that supplier factories do not take retaliatory action against workers for their role in the unrest.

Meanwhile, concerns of a different nature were being voiced in Bangladesh. The impending anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster has highlighted that less than 20% of the amount required to make compensation payments has so far been received into the Rana Plaza fund.

On the issue of safety, a delegation of the European Parliament last week visited Bangladesh to discuss the implementation of factory safety measures and workers' rights. On their return, they voiced concerns on the progress being made to improve conditions, concluding that more needs to be done.

Elsewhere, just-style took a closer look at Africa as the next frontier in apparel sourcing. A webinar by the American Apparel & Footwear Association highlighted the opportunities and challenges the continent offers, as rising manufacturing costs in China force companies to look at alternative sourcing destinations.

With that in mind, another emerging trend is the 'Made in the UK' movement, which appears to be gaining momentum. While there has been little robust evidence to date on the scale of any such shift, new figures from PwC suggest re-shoring has the potential to create up to 200,000 extra UK jobs over the next decade - with sectors such as textiles and clothing among the main beneficiaries.

Elsewhere, year-end results continued to roll in last week, with PVH in particular unable to report uplifting figures. The company swung to a fourth-quarter loss, but highlighted Calvin Klein as a business that will receive investment this fiscal.

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