Major fashion brands sourcing garments from Bangladesh for the UK market reportedly undercut production costs, according to a large survey of 1,000 Bangladeshi manufacturers released today. .
Most of the factories in Bangladesh that sell to 24 of the world’s largest retailers say they are paying the same prices almost two years after the start of the pandemic despite rising costs of raw materials. reporting.
A number of high street fashion brands mentioned in the study “Impact of unfair practices of global clothing retailers on Bangladeshi suppliers during COVID-19” are buying from factories facing rising costs of raw materials. nearly 1 in 5 reported suffering. Bangladesh’s minimum wage, he pays £2.30 a day.
A study conducted by the University of Aberdeen and the trade justice charity Transform Trade reported that a total of 90% of large high-street brands that buy from four or more factories were involved in unfair buying practices.
More than 50% of suppliers report experiencing unfair purchasing practices such as cancellations, payment defaults, late payments, and discount requests, with ramifications such as forced overtime and harassment. I’m here. Larger brands that buy from many factories were more frequently involved in unfair purchasing practices than smaller brands, according to suppliers. reportedly involved in at least one of
Bangladesh is the second largest garment exporter in the world, supplying millions of garments to the UK market.
“Two years after the start of the pandemic, garment workers in Bangladesh are not being paid enough to live on, while a fifth of manufacturers struggle to pay the minimum wage. , Many fashion brands using Bangladeshi labor are making profits,” said project leader U Muhammad. Azizul Islam, Professor of Sustainability Accounting and Transparency at his School of Business, University of Aberdeen.
“Soaring inflation rates around the world are likely to exacerbate this.”
The study also found that post-lockdown garment factories employed only 75% of their former workers, suggesting that up to 900,000 workers may have lost their jobs.
Fiona Gooch, Senior Policy Advisor at Transform Trade, said: “When a retailer treats a supplier badly in violation of pre-arranged terms, it is the worker who suffers. Costs need to be reduced in the supply chain, and this is often passed on to the least empowered employees in the supply chain.Rehiring for poor wages and conditions, bullying, reports of unpaid overtime are predictable outcomes. We need a fashion watchdog to regulate UK clothing retailers, much like the existing supermarket watchdog.
“ALDI and LIDL food buying practices are regulated in both the UK and European markets, but their clothing purchases are unregulated, continuing unethical behavior. We need fashion watchdogs to thwart unacceptable buying practices of clothing retailers who profit from large consumer markets, as well as existing protections for food suppliers. Suppliers can only provide good working conditions for their employees if they can plan ahead with confidence that they will earn as expected.”
Nearly two-thirds of the factories reported receiving financial support from the Bangladesh government or Bangladeshi banks to survive.
Of the brands in the report, 12 are members of the Ethical Trading Initiative, which aims to promote workers’ rights around the world.
“Millions of fashion brands are siphoning wealth from the world’s poorest countries in the form of 21st-century neocolonialism,” says Pamela, director and collaborator of the Center for Global Development at the University of Aberdeen. Professor Abbott said. project. “Due to the unequal power dynamics between suppliers and buyers, the suppliers who reported illegal contract breaches in the investigation did not take legal action to recoup their losses.”
The readymade garment industry accounts for 85% of Bangladesh’s export earnings, with more than 12 million Bangladeshis dependent on the sector.
This research was funded by the University of Aberdeen through an award from the Scottish Funding Council under the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).