In a resounding condemnation of the grave human rights abuses unearthed within Pakistan’s garment industry, Geneva Council, stands firm in its commitment to spotlight these atrocities.
Recently, Labour Behind the Label, a dedicated advocacy group for garment workers, in partnership with the esteemed human rights law firm Global Rights Compliance, exposed a distressing panorama of human rights violations in the supply chains of major retailers operating in Pakistan.
Geneva Council emphasizes that the findings of this investigative report have brought to light a deeply troubling state of affairs. The report illuminates a harrowing landscape within the industry, where minimum wage breaches, the enforcement of excessive working hours, negligence towards health and safety concerns, and the failure to compensate injured or deceased workers have become alarmingly commonplace.
Factories affiliated with global brands such as Gap, Adidas, Asda, H&M, Marks & Spencer, Puma, Levi’s, Primark, Boohoo, and Inditex, the parent company of Zara, have all been implicated in these shocking revelations. This revelation is particularly astonishing, given that these companies, despite their claims of rigorous social auditing processes, were found to be sourcing products from suppliers implicated in the report, thereby exposing a significant gap in their supply chain monitoring mechanisms.
The report’s damning findings reveal a disturbing trend whereby these factories exploit their workforce by engaging them in informal and less regulated work arrangements, with the aim of cutting costs and reducing risks. The consequences of this exploitation are dire, with more than a third of the surveyed workforce earning less than the minimum wage due to these informal employment practices.
Furthermore, the report raises grave concerns about the health and safety of workers, who reported perilous working conditions, including exposure to hazardous substances like cotton dust and fumes. Shockingly, the report alleges that one worker’s death, attributed to workplace conditions, was concealed by factory management, and the family received no compensation.
Lara Strangways, the head of business and human rights at Global Rights Compliance, has expressed her profound concerns regarding these findings. She stated, “The revelations in this report should serve as an urgent wake-up call to brands, exposing significant shortcomings in their due diligence processes when it comes to identifying violations of human rights and labor rights in the production of their goods.”
Strangways further emphasized, “Social auditing has proven to be inadequate in detecting these violations and is evidently ill-suited for the task. Brands must take immediate action to reevaluate their approach to sourcing and engage in constructive discussions with the labor movement to determine appropriate remedies.”
Geneva Council calls upon all stakeholders, including governments, international organizations, brands, and consumers, to join in condemning these human rights abuses and demanding immediate action to rectify this grave situation. The protection of the rights and dignity of workers in the global garment industry is a collective responsibility that must not be ignored.