Swedish fashion chain H&M aims to get more control over its suppliers in Bangladesh and Cambodia, in order to counter allegations about how factories exploit their employees while they produce most of H&M’s clothing in unsafe working conditions.
Suppliers have to respect international labour conventions
In order to get more control, H&M has set up a test with two factories in Bangladesh and one in Cambodia. All three production facilities, having H&M as their sole client, have to commit to a safe working environment and pay a certain minimum wage. This construction also enables more quality control.
“We see these a little like test centers where we can try out different things that we can then push out on a larger scale in the entire supply chain”, social sustainability manager Anna Gedda said.
Other important suppliers also have to follow stricter rules, as H&M is imposing a code of conduct detailing how they should deal with their personnel. The code of conduct refers to the ‘Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work’, created by the International Labour Organization. One of the rights mentioned in that declaration is that workers have the right to ‘associate freely and bargain collectively’.
H&M had moved part of its production to Bangladesh back in 1982, adding Cambodia in 1988. Two thirds of their global purchases are made in Asia, with the remainder being made in Romania, Turkey and Italy.
(Translated by Gary Peeters)