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How do we know which retailers have ethical practices? Related to the Bangladeshi factory tragedy

(265 Posts)
Cristiane Sun 28-Apr-13 07:15:05

The news from Banglaesh gets worse and worse - 352 people dead so far in the collapses factory where people made clothes for Matalan, Primark and ther names.

I don't want to buy from labels that don't use sweat shops and don't use suppliers that have coercive or dehumanising working conditions. Does anyone know if there is a list prepared of the most ethical retailers?

Cristiane Sun 28-Apr-13 07:16:24

I want to buy not don't want to buy...

<slaps self>

StupidFlanders Sun 28-Apr-13 07:20:36

I'm curious about this too, it seems so complicated that I've often chosen the least bad.
I'm not even sure if the body shop is still ethically manufactured.

missmartha Sun 28-Apr-13 08:17:16

I don't know how you can tell. Obviously some brands sell stuff dirt cheap so that's pretty much a give away.

On the other hand, I've heard that some designer clothes are made in sweat shops too, the companies that sell them just charge more and make a bigger profit per garment. So you can't go by price alone.

Maybe we need Fair Trade label for clothes.

mercibucket Sun 28-Apr-13 08:23:42

I buy m and s for this reason as I trust them more

mercibucket Sun 28-Apr-13 08:23:42

I buy m and s for this reason as I trust them more

sleepdodger Sun 28-Apr-13 08:30:28

I have involvement in this through work
Essentially all companies have an ethical code, and how good it is bears no resemblance to the price you pay for a garment, but clearly lower prices will put pressure on factories
In uk most companies have a good leek of conduct, the horrific issue in Bangladesh was caused by people saying a building wa safe when they knew it wasn't, and sadly you cannot legislate for that
If the lack of clarity make you think you won't buy clothes from Bangladesh that actually compounds the issues as ethically people then lose jobs and slide further down the appalling poverty chain hmm
Fwiw I buy my clothes from most uk highest stores confidently but I avoid heavy embellishment from cheap stores, it's hand done and likely to be sub contracted in unknown places by unknown people hmmconfused
Feel free to ask any questions, if I can answer without outing myself I will

DeafLeopard Sun 28-Apr-13 08:49:58

That is interesting to know sleepdodger.

I agree that if we all stop buying then people lose their jobs, I guess it needs pressure putting on the retailers / manufacturers to ensure that their clothes are ethical.

How well they do that is another matter entirely.

HilaryM Sun 28-Apr-13 09:11:08

HilaryM Sun 28-Apr-13 09:12:57 - better link

TigerseyeMum Sun 28-Apr-13 10:44:49

A link I read on the subject yesterday suggested American retailers had avoided a global agreement up check welfare standards because it 'wouldn't make economic sense' (ie would cost them money), this would allow premises and working conditions to be checked independently and internationally agreed standards to be upheld.

Companies named in the report were Gap and H&M but they were not alone. I can't do a linky on my phone, it won't let me post.

It's long been known that cheap high street brands have low standards as do sports brands. If its cheap, someone somewhere has to pay.

TigerseyeMum Sun 28-Apr-13 10:48:43

It's on

TapselteerieO Sun 28-Apr-13 11:02:26

It is strange to see Asda scoring 3.5 out of 5 on your labour behind the label link Hilary

TapselteerieO Sun 28-Apr-13 11:09:07

Oops got that wrong, no company scores higher than 3 out of five in that list. The list is very limited.

I stopped shopping in Topshop etc after the tax avoidance came to light. I suppose my budget being so small means I won't have much impact on these shops. Really disappointed but not surprised about H&M - I do shop there, I can afford to, I like Zara but our nearest one closed down and I am not keen on shopping online, it is way too much of a hassle.

TapselteerieO Sun 28-Apr-13 11:16:56

These things need to be known for people to start to shop more ethically mass faintings happening in Cambodian factories "due to poverty pay and malnutrition in workers who sew Gap, H&M, Zara and Levi's fashion items."

EasterHoliday Sun 28-Apr-13 11:17:30

Here's the thing; a retailer can have pretty stringent checks and codes in place relating to payment / treatment / working hours / age of staff engaged to manufacture your clothes, but unless they're actually going to go through the same process with the building companies who make the factories for a third party (quite possibly years before they start to use that supplier), is a building collapse really an indication of poor ethical standards? There are frequent news stories of buildings and roads collapsing /disintegrating in China where expansion is happening at such an accelerated pace that things are done quickly / overloaded - isn't it more a government issue to regulate building processes rather than the haulage companies who send their workers out in lorries on those roads / bridges? When a nightclub in Brazil goes up in flames with fire exits bolted shut, it's no indication that the workers weren't treated very well - I don't think that the integrity of a building belonging to a third party is necessarily indicative of the way workers are treated. The Bangladeshi factory workers may well have had regular breaks, food, decent pay and the structural integrity of the building does not necessarily demonstrate degrading / dehumanising working practices.

TapselteerieO Sun 28-Apr-13 11:22:47

I know people in this country are cash strapped and time poor but we all have blood on our hands if we continue to buy clothes from unethical companies willing to profit from starvation wages "The building contained 3 separate clothing factories, which locals say housed around 6,000 workers. Following the collapse, activists were able to enter the ruins and discovered labels from brands including Primark and Mango, indicating that they were sourcing from the factories. Rana Plaza also produced for a host of well known brand names including C&A, Matalan and Wal-Mart." Here.

Time for an mn campaign?

TapselteerieO Sun 28-Apr-13 11:27:43

Do you think they were treated fairly Easter? From what I have read workers had staged a protest or walk out a few days before to protest at the state of the building.

In the u.k we have health and safety executive and local environmental health to check that all work places are meeting safety requirements and people can report any companies they think are breaching the requirements.

YoniOno Sun 28-Apr-13 11:33:53

Yy to an MN campaign. It's all very well to say that it's up to us as consumers to make ethical choices, but it's bloody hard to find out and harder still when we need cheap clothes for children etc.

If there are certain standards for workplace safety and conditions in the UK, it doesn't make sense to me that we can buy products here that have been made in sweatshops. I hope that a positive change is made from this horrific incident.

IMO it's much more the responsibility of the UK govt than individual consumers. How can companies trade here, profit here, pay taxes here when their profit is soaked in blood? It makes the whole system corrupt.

TigerseyeMum Sun 28-Apr-13 11:34:13

The workers who walked out days before the collapse were abused and forced to return to work from the owners,, under threat of losing their pay and livelihood.

International, wealthy, western companies can run checks. They choose not to. As western practises improved and became more costly they moved manufacturing out to other countries where workers could be exploited to maintain their profit margins.

All too easy to throw up our hands and say 'not guilty, nothing we could have done'. Entry could have been done if enough people had cared.

TigerseyeMum Sun 28-Apr-13 11:35:33

Plenty, I mean.

TapselteerieO Sun 28-Apr-13 11:52:25

Look at how many have died recently in other incidents - "On 11th September 2012, more than 200 workers perished at the Ali Enterprises factory in Karachi, Pakistan. On the same day workers were also killed in fires at factories in Lahore, Pakistan in Russia. On 24th November 2012 124 workers were killed and over 150 workers were injured in a fire at Tazreen Fashion in Bangladesh. In all cases fire escapes were locked, inadequate or simply non existant. Windows were barred and stairways were blocked. Those workers who escaped had to break through walls and windows or jump out of ventilation shafts." send an e-mail here

We need a PETA style campaign showing the shocking truth of the conditions people work in. The media does not seem too keen to give much space to this kind of news - but who pays to advertise with them?

YoniOno Sun 28-Apr-13 11:55:01

Is it not possible for the govt to make laws to prevent companies trading in the UK, acting as though UK labour laws don't apply?

I don't feel we live in a civilised country if we can pretend we're not essentially using slave labour, just because it's happening beyond our borders. Companies can literally act as though there are no labour standards at all, but happily base and trade in the UK. It's much worse than the horsemeat scandal, this is human life - yet it's getting less media attention angry

FrugalFashionista Sun 28-Apr-13 11:59:26

We had disasters like these in our countries - slavery to pick and process cotton, the Triangle factory fire in New York and the horrific 19th century child labor use in British textile mills. We chose to do something about it and it worked - now we should make sure the same measures are taken in more distant places.

There is no truly cheap fashion - someone always foots the bill.

FrugalFashionista Sun 28-Apr-13 12:01:56

If anyone is interest in organizing a boycott, count me in!

Cotton picking in Uzbekistan not exactly a paragon of fair labor practises either.

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