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Armani, Calvin Klein and other big brands implicated in forced labor

  • Published on
    January 9, 2024
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  • Category:
    Forced Labor, Supply Chain
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Leading fashion brands, including Barbour and PVH (Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger owner), have pledged over $400,000 to compensate garment workers following revelations of exploitative labor practices, including forced labor, at five factories in Mauritius.

Big brands implicated in forced labor

Transparentem, a U.S.-based workers’ rights organization, conducted an investigation into conditions at five factories in Mauritius. The report, ‘”I Came Here with So Many Dreams”: Labor Rights Abuses & the Need for Change in Mauritius’, exposes multiple signs of forced labor, including migrant workers paying illegal recruitment fees, facing deception, intimidation, and living in unsanitary conditions without access to clean drinking water.

One worker shared with Transparentem, “If I had any idea or any understanding of any of this. I would never work at this company.”

The five factories implicated in the report supply popular fashion brands, including Boden, Asos, and the Foschini Group (Whistles, Hobbs owner). Transparentem reached out to 18 buyer brands supplied by these factories. After learning of their supplier factory’s working conditions, PVH and Barbour, immediately commissioned their own audits.

Annie Kelly for the Guardian reports,

PVH said it was committed to ensuring migrant workers were reimbursed for recruitment fees and related costs.

Barbour said it was taking Transparentem’s findings seriously and was working with other brands at REAL Garments to resolve the situation as soon as possible. “As an immediate action, we have made a commitment to contribute towards the remediation of impacted workers,” it said.

“We are also expanding our audit processes to ensure that we do everything possible to prevent this happening in the future,” a spokesperson said.

Some of the buyers stated they no longer sourced from the implicated factories. Seven brands, including Armani, Asos, Boardriders, Foxcroft/The Apparel Group, John Lewis Partnership, Kontoor Brands, and Western Glove Works, reportedly declined outreach for remedial action.

“The cost of reform is high. But the cost of failure to reform is higher.”

Ben Skinner, President of Transparentem, commended the migrant workers for their courage in revealing these exploitative conditions. While we applaud the crucial work Transparentem has done, it should not fall to civil society to keep companies accountable.

Further, the likelihood of comprehensive reimbursement for most workers at all five factories is uncertain. The path to ensuring ethical practices and eradicating exploitation in the fashion industry will continue to require sustained advocacy until workers everywhere are safe from exploitation.

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5 months ago

I’m praying they WILL actually receive it

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