H&M to probe violence, sex abuse in Asian fashion factories

In this Sept. 2, 2017, photo, North Korean workers walk into the Hong Chao Zhi Yi garment factory after visiting a street market in the city of Hunchun in northeastern China's Jilin province. (AP)
Updated 06 June 2018

H&M to probe violence, sex abuse in Asian fashion factories

  • All forms of abuse or harassment are against everything that H&M group stands for
  • The charities said they had found widespread sex harassment, verbal and physical abuse

LONDON: Fashion giants H&M and Gap Inc. vowed on Tuesday to investigate reports that Asian garment workers who supply their high-street stores routinely face sex abuse, harassment and violence.
Based on interviews with some 550 workers in 53 H&M and Gap supplier factories in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka, rights groups said women were at “daily risk” of violence, and faced retaliation if they reported the attacks.
The coalition has investigated the factories for several years as efforts mount to push Western brands into improving safety along their supply chains and render them slave-free.
Clothes stitched by low-paid Asian workers — part of a complex global supply chain — end up on high-priced Western high streets, with some 4,750 H&M stores located in 69 countries and about 3,700 Gap shops operating in about 90 nations.
Sweden’s H&M — the world’s No. 2 clothes group after Zara owner Inditex (ITX.MC) — said it would review the findings of the recent report by the civil society groups and unions.
“We will go through every section of the report and follow up on (a) factory level with our local teams based in each production country,” a company spokesman said in a statement.
“All forms of abuse or harassment are against everything that H&M group stands for.”
US retailer Gap said it was “deeply concerned about the troubling allegations raised by this report.”
“Our global team is currently conducting our due diligence to investigate and address these issues,” a spokeswoman said.
The charities said they had found widespread sex harassment, verbal and physical abuse — such as slapping — and threats of retaliation when women refused sexual advances from bosses.

FORCED LABOUR?
A separate report published last month by the coalition of rights groups found similar abuse of women at supplier factories in Asia for US-based Walmart, the world’s largest retailer.
Walmart said last month that it was reviewing the “concerning” accounts cited in the report.
The Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), a group of trade unions, firms and charities of which both Gap and H&M are members, said it expected the retailers to work with the suppliers to ensure that women have swift access to remedy.
“These allegations are deeply concerning,” said Debbie Coulter of the ETI. “Gender-based violence is unacceptable under any circumstances, and brands need to make sure that women working in their supply chain are protected.”
Campaigners told the Thomson Reuters Foundation last month that the level of pressure and harassment faced by the workers in the three separate reports was approaching forced labor.
“Any time you have retaliation against workers, and coercion and control ... you are coming close to the line of forced labor,” Jennifer Rosenbaum of Global Labor Justice (GLJ), a network of worker and migrant organizations, said last month.
The reports have been published amid meetings hosted by the United Nations’ International Labour Organization (ILO) to work on the first global convention against workplace harassment after the #MeToo campaign thrust the issue into the spotlight. (Editing by Lyndsay Griffiths (Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience.


Trump laments G-7 move from Doral after bipartisan pushback

Updated 21 October 2019

Trump laments G-7 move from Doral after bipartisan pushback

  • Trump said it would have been the greatest G-7 ever if held at his Doral resort outside Miami

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump lashed out Monday at critics who prompted him to move next year’s Group of Seven summit from his private golf club in Florida, claiming he would have hosted it for free and now it will end up costing taxpayers “a fortune.”
Speaking at a Cabinet meeting, Trump said it would have been the greatest G-7 ever if held at his Doral resort outside Miami, but “Democrats went crazy” with criticisms that he would have violated the “phony” emoluments clause in the Constitution banning presidents from receiving gifts from foreign countries.
“I was willing to do this for free,” Trump said Monday, comparing it to his decision not to take his $400,000 presidential salary. “It will cost a fortune for the country.”
Trump brushed aside the criticism that hosting the summit would have been one big promotion for his brand. “You don’t think I get enough promotion? I get more promotion than any human being that’s ever lived.”
Trump reversed course Saturday on hosting the G-7 at Doral after Republicans joined Democrats in raising alarm. His acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, said that the president had realized that “it looks lousy” to steer business to his own property.
Mulvaney said last week that Doral was “far and away” the best venue because of its location near the Miami airport and separate buildings to host each country’s delegation.
Mulvaney listed more than a half dozen states visited in the screening process, including Tennessee, North Carolina, Hawaii and Utah. But convention, economic development and tourism officials in several of those states said they were unaware of any visits, and some didn’t even know their state was in the running.
Trump had earlier tweeted that the presidential retreat at Camp David, Maryland, was an alternate location but wasn’t specific when asked at the Cabinet meeting where the summit will be held now.
“I don’t think it will be as exciting,” he said.