As you may have seen in the news today, a Panorama investigation by the BBC has uncovered Syrian refugees making clothes for well known high street chains Marks & Spencer, Next, Zara and Mango and online retailer ASOS.com in Turkey.
Marks & Spencer's have issued a statement, "...we were very disappointed by these findings, which are extremely serious and are unacceptable to M&S. We are working closely with this supplier to take remedial action...". In such circumstances it can be very hard for such big corporations to check their supply chain thoroughly enough to pick up on these human rights issues.
Marks & Spencer's added, "All of our suppliers are contractually required to comply with our global sourcing principles, which cover what we expect and require of them and their treatment of workers." Even with these contracts the rules will be flouted at the gain of a few greedy individuals, things will always slip through the cracks.
Retailers can have considerable pull in suppliers using child labour and paying below the minimum wage. All retailers have a profit margin to adhere to. When margins need to be adhered by large retailers, the cost price of raw materials and manufacturing is pushed to the lowest price possible. Unfortunately, these low prices have an impact on the suppliers, as not agreeing with the low price, the retailer will choose to source elsewhere, however agreeing to the low prices means the supplier could be out of pocket. Therefore, a lot of suppliers outsource to find ways to make the product cheaper, and this leads to a lot of exploitation in the textile industry.
One way to make sure you aren't supporting this exploitative practice is by buying Fairtrade or by buying local. Buying products with the Fairtrade seal means you have peace of mind about where your product has come from and the way it has been manufactured. This is the same when buying local. locally made products made with locally sourced materials or without a big supply chain ensures your products are of the utmost quality and have not exploited individuals when being made.
At BIDBI we believe people are the most important part of any organisation, they should be paid a living wage and enjoy good working conditions, free from harassment. BIDBI are therefore full committed to a supply chain that is ethical and ecologically sound, that's why both our UK factory and our trusted partners in India are registered with Fairtrade or are members of SEDEX (Supplier Data Ethical Exchange).