Tuesday 29 May 2012

H&M's striking problem with ethical fashion

Interesting news from Cambodia, that show more clearly than ever how H&M's hopes of claiming the title of most ethical high street retailer are unravelling like a badly-made piece of knitwear.

Over 1500 workers at the SL Processing Company have marched on the capital, Phnom Penh, to demand government intervention after negotiations on pay and conditions broke down late last week. Strike action is looking increasingly likely at the factory, which produces clothes for brands like Levi's and Gap as well as H&M.

Pay and conditions are notoriously poor for workers in the fashion trade in Cambodia, with most employees receiving pay of less than $10 a month. Factories are inadequately lit and ventilated, and there is a constant threat of sexual harassment or even rape for the largely female workforce.

If H&M want their ethical claims to be taken seriously, then they should support the people that work for them, and ensure they get a decent living wage, and safe, clean working conditions. That, surely, is the definition of responsible, ethical behaviour.

More on the story at Just Style

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