‘Retailers must introduce more transparency into supply chains’

Gurjit Degun
1 May 2014

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1 May 2014 | Gurjit Degun

The UK government has called on all retailers to address their sourcing procedures and introduce more transparency into supply chains.

Department for International Development (DFID) minister Alan Duncan was speaking during a debate in Westminster yesterday on the working conditions in the garment industry. It follows the one-year anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Dhaka, Bangladesh, which killed 1,133 and injured thousands more.

“At the heart of the issue is the idea that companies must take responsibility for all the workers in their supply chain,” said Duncan. “The best brands do the best things, and British companies can be a force for good by enforcing improvements in their supply chain.

“I urge all brands, companies and retailers to think about their sourcing practices and to introduce more transparency into supply chains. Those standards have to go all the way from the till at which a garment is sold right back to the sewing machine where it is made.”

He told the House of Commons that the garment industry is having a “positive impact” on social change and women’s empowerment. Therefore the government would like to see growth “rather than boycotting or abandonment”.

Duncan added: “The UK will continue to support work towards the goal of building a healthy, safe and sustainable garment sector in Bangladesh that benefits everyone. The priority now, assisted by today’s debate, is to maintain momentum and use this first-year anniversary to push for continuing further progress.”

On compensation for the families impacted by the disaster in Bangladesh last year, Duncan praised budget fashion brand Primark. “Primark – which first of all got attacked in the press – has in fact been an absolute market leader and exemplar in how it has paid out long-term compensation to workers and their families," he said.

“I am aware that some other companies have made smaller additional contributions. I use this opportunity today to ask other UK companies to step up and contribute to help the Rana Plaza workers.”

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