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This holiday season, Oxfam have published a ‘naughty and nice list’ exposing clothing brands and outlets. Many of us simply buy clothes not thinking twice about where they were made. What we don’t realise is that many unethical issues are occurring in the factories where our clothes are produced.
The list published by Oxfam has two groups – naughty and nice. The ‘nice list’ contains companies that publically announce where all their clothing factories are located such as Kmart, Coles and H&M. Companies that do not disclose where their clothes are made, such as ASOS and Peter Alexander, are placed on the ‘naughty’ list.
Following the collapse of a Bangladesh garment factory building in 2013, the garment industry has come under severe scrutiny. Rana Plaza was an eight story building located in Dhaka containing several garment factories. One day before the disaster, cracks began to appear in the walls of the building, and occupants were evacuated. However, garment factory workers were later advised to re-enter the building to resume work. More than one thousand people died when the whole building collapsed, and thousands more were injured. The tragic event was believed to be caused by the vibrations of four large generators on the upper floors. As a result, the proprietors of the garment factories were arrested and charged with negligence causing death (BBC, 2013).
Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. Many of the garment factories in countries such as Bangladesh and China operate under extremely poor working conditions. Not only are the buildings often unsafe, but the staff are usually underpaid and overworked. These factories are more commonly called sweat shops.
Whilst the companies on Oxfam’s ‘nice list’ reveal where the factories are located, the working conditions of these factories are still questionable. However, by disclosing the locations of the factories that make their products, the company is providing transparency. This transparency allows for the factories to be monitored. Inspections can then be performed to ensure workplace health and safety. It also means that any problems occurring in the garment factories can be explored and hopefully resolved.
The companies that appear on the ‘naughty list’ are not permitting this transparency. Therefore, the location and working conditions of the factories where their garments are produced is being withheld. If these factories are operating under unsafe or unfair practices, the issues are not likely to be addressed.
Disclosing factory locations to allow for proper regulation is vital. Without this transparency and regulation, another event like the 2013 collapse of the Bangladesh garment factories could occur.
Oxfam urges shoppers to write to loved brands on the ‘naughty list’ and ask them to disclose their factory locations. This will hopefully influence these retailers to improve their practices, so garment factory workers can have their rights protected.
Shoppers can also buy second-hand clothes to avoid involvement in unethical garment factories. Op-shops and second-hand shops raise money for charities and do not contribute to keeping sweat shops in operation.
To see the Published Oxfam list refer to this link: