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Thursday, 25th September 2014

Workers' Conditions in the Textile and Clothing Sector: Just an Asian Affair?

Source: European Parliamentary Research Service

From Summary:

More than 70% of EU imports of textile and clothing come from Asia. Many Asian workers have to work in sweatshop conditions, but the issue appears in global media only when major fatal accidents occur, like that at Rana Plaza in Bangladesh, in 2013.

Long working hours, low wages, lack of regular contracts, and systemically hazardous conditions are often reported. Trade unions, when allowed, are unable to protect workers.  Not all Asian countries exporting textile and clothing to the EU have ratified "Fundamental" ILO conventions and their concrete application is far from the norm.         UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises fix good standards of corporate social responsibility for Western brands operating in such countries, but are not binding and do not provide for sanctions if not applied. In practice, they have failed to defend workers' rights.

A number of measures have been suggested to change this situation, including in repeated European Parliament resolutions. Such measures would require action by Asian governments, international brands and the importing countries.

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Having begun his career in academic libraries, Adrian Janes has subsequently worked extensively in public libraries, chiefly in enquiry work as an Information Services librarian. In this role he has had particular responsibility for information from both the UK Government and the European Union. He wrote a detailed report on sources for the latter which was published by FreePint in 2007, and has contributed articles to FreePint and ResourceShelf. He is involved in training in information literacy and the use of online reference resources.

A Contributing Editor to DocuTicker, he also write reviews for Pennyblackmusic.

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