On 22 November, my office attended a drop-in session about the UK’s unfair purchasing practices. These unfair and often hostile practices have a significant effect on the lives of people in countries around the world, and especially young women in the industry.
A new report entitled ‘Re-fashion. Building Forward Worse.How COVID-19 has accelerated the race to the bottom in the global garment industry’ produced by Royal Holloway, University of London and University of Nottingham, documents the impact on Covid-19 on the lives of 200 women garment workers in Cambodia. https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5f7633793f2e972ebf0667a0/t/6378aac33c3e2b6745e222f2/1668852426530/Building-Forward-Worse.pdf
As the report states: ‘From early 2020, manufacturing shutdowns and consumer lockdowns around the world led global brands and retailers to cancel orders with their suppliers, forcing frequent halts to production. The effects of this disruption were devastating for the workers who usually cut and stitch the world’s supply of clothing and shoes, triggering global alerts of widespread unemployment, debt, hunger, desperation, and destitution.’
The report makes a compelling case for the need to improve social protection for just and sustainable global supply chains in the aftermath of the pandemic.
Following the drop-in session, I asked the following question:
To ask HMG, what is HMG doing to put an end to fashion’s unfair purchasing practices, including the exploitation of suppliers and their workers by brands selling into the UK market, and what considerations HMG has done in relation to introducing a Fashion Watchdog and a fashion supply code adjudicator for this industry?