Pacific Brands moving operations overseas – sweatshop conditions ?

2 Apr

In a previous blog posting on Pacific Brands and the shifting of their productions overseas, I questioned their move, ‘

…  moving their manufacturing operations to other South- East Asian countries including China was motivated by lower cost of operations, the decision to do so is more than just that. It knows that it can relocate its manufacturing bases to these countries because of  their less rigorous pro-labour governmental regulations, non-existing or weak trade unions and a distinct lack of respect for worker rights in comparison to domestic Australian labour laws’…

My suspicion was raised again recently as Oxfam Australia pointed out that Pacific Brands have been relying on Hong Kong based Li & Fung to coordinate its overseas factories production. The latter in a recently released Oxfam Hong Kong report, ‘Transparency Report 2: Have Hong Kong Garment Companies Improved their Reporting on Labour Standards?’, was pointed out for being ‘secretive’. Says Oxfam Labour Rights Advocacy Coordinator Tim Connor,”

… Li & Fung refuses to release information about the way that monitoring is done, whether any labour violations are found, and whether any steps are taken to correct problems. Li & Fung also keeps secret the names and addresses of all its supplier factories, which makes it impossible for an external organisation to verify workers’ conditions..’

In moving production overseas, companies such as Pacific Brands are exploiting not just the lower labour costs but very likely the working conditions of employees. While the outrage and public debate has somewhat subsided, anti-sweatshop NGOs and labour unions need to monitor the operations and continue to pressurise companies in upholding their ethical  principles and labour standards when they invoke recession as an excuse to go abroad.

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