The disregard for human rights in fashion

The democratically elected government of Myanmar was overthrown by the army in a coup on February 1st, 2021, and the National League for Democracy party leaders were detained. Since then, the country’s Civil Disobedience Movement has been led by textile workers, most of whom are women, who risk their lives every day to call for the end of the dictatorship and the restoration of democracy in Myanmar. Some people, including the H&M Group, even stopped supplying the Southeast Asian manufacturing powerhouse after the violent results.The halt did not last long, either, as H&M soon resumed placing orders there in an effort to safeguard the livelihoods of textile industry workers, according to the business.

Since then, factories have partnered with the military to target garment workers and restrict workers’ rights, while scores of union activists have been slain and hundreds have been detained for exposing pro-democracy. More than 100 instances of abuses of human and labor rights have been discovered in factories connected to fashion firms, including Inditex, owner of Zara, H&M Group, and Mango, according to a report by the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre published this week.According to BOF, some of the most common incidents have involved harassment, intimidation, pay theft, and attacks on unions. However, Mango said that they no longer employed in Myanmar, and the H&M corporation opted to remain silent about what transpired.Myanmar only makes up a small portion of the global textile market, but the circumstance is representative of the growing difficulty that companies must overcome to strike a balance between supply security and morality in a world that is becoming more fractious and uncertain.Trade unions in Myanmar have urged businesses to leave the nation, claiming it is difficult for major fashion retailers to do business there without going against their own codes of ethics.

In the fashion supply chain, child labor, slavery, wage theft, and worker repression have been on the rise for years, and the pandemic, according to a research published by risk consulting firm Verisk Maplecroft last year, has made the issue worse.As a result of the pandemic’s effects, climate change, economic winds brought on by the crisis in Ukraine, and other factors that make the situation more challenging and worsen it in other areas of the fashion supply chain, the problem is growing more complex and serious. Not that inertia doesn’t play a significant role: Investors are demanding more information about potential hazards, and regulators are pressing businesses to accept greater responsibility for misbehavior in their supply chains.Therefore, brands should actively work to change how they interact with suppliers, while companies should concentrate on enhancing traceability so they can identify and manage issues. This will enable them to more fairly distribute the production risks and costs associated with running a responsible business. The local trade union movements that could intervene by defending workers from a legal standpoint are not ignored in this address.

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