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Report: H&M has failed to secure garment workers' rights

Publicerat måndag 23 maj 2016 kl 15.30
H&M: The issues in the report are industry-wide problems
(1:41 min)
HM: "The report raises important issues" Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT
HM: "The report raises important issues" Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Workers in H&M supply chains in Cambodia and India face exploitation and abuse, according to a new report from the Asia Floor Wage Alliance, an international alliance of trade unions and labor-rights activist.

Workers in the Swedish fashion retailers’ garment factories face problems such as low wages, fixed-term contracts, forced overtime and losing their jobs if pregnant, according to the Asia Floor Wage Alliance (AFWA) report.

AFWA conducted interviews with 251 factory workers in Cambodia and India between August and October 2015 and found that overtime was expected in all of the factories, with some workers reporting 9 to 17-hour workdays.

Workers from 11 out of the 12 H&M factories in Cambodia and from all four factories in India told AFWA that women had been fired or forced to take unpaid leave during their pregnancies.

The fashion industry has been pressured to improve workers' rights and conditions after the collapse of a factory in Bangladesh in 2013 where over 1,000 people were killed.

H&M employs 1.6 million factory workers, according to the company’s website. In recent years, the fashion giant has set itself apart in its commitment to cleaning up its supply chain, but AFWA has accused H&M of failing on its promises.

In a statement to Radio Sweden, H&M said: "The [AFWA] report raises important issues and we are dedicated to contributing to positive long-term development for the people working in the textile industry in our sourcing markets. The issues addressed in the report are industry-wide problems. They are often difficult to address as an individual company and we firmly believe that collaboration is key".

AFWA cites the need for global mechanisms to monitor and regulate garment supply chains and production, including the recognition of a living wage as a human right and the promotion of sector-based and transnational collective bargaining.

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