CSOs ask the European Commission to adopt a legislation on binding due diligence for supply chains in the garment sector

On 27 April,  the report “EU flagship initiative on the garment sector”, led by MEP Lola Sánchez Caldentey, was adopted in the European Parliament (EP) plenary with a big majority of votes.

The report’s adoption  comes at  a very symbolic time: just a few days after the commemoration of the Rana Plaza disaster (24 April 2013) where more than 1100 people died and at the veil of the World Day for Safety and Health at Work (28 April).  

SOLIDAR welcomes the report as it reflects the demands of its members and their partners in the field calling for binding EU legislation in the sector, among others to prevent producing countries from being exposed to social dumping from other countries offering cheaper labour and cheaper working conditions.

Apart from promoting voluntary initiatives, the EP report calls on the European Commission to present a legislative proposal on binding due diligence obligations for supply chains in the garment sector in line with the new OECD “Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible business conduct Responsible Supply Chains in the Garment and Footwear Sector” and on the mandatory disclosure of production locations. The report also stresses the need for collecting and publishing comprehensive data on corporate sustainability performance through the elaboration of common definitions and standards in a harmonized manner for the collection and collation of statistical data, notably on general imports.

In line with this call, SOLIDAR has co-signed – together with many other civil society organisations including the ITUC, IndustriAll, etc. – a Clean Clothes Campaign letter addressed to the European Commission  with the request to propose a legislation obliging companies to disclose, on a regular basis, the names, addresses and contact details of all production units and processing facilities in their supply chain. This includes, when applicable, the parent company of the business at the site.

The CSOs letter, available in English and French, highlights that:

  • Poor working conditions and workers' rights violations are a distinguishing feature of the garment industry. The widespread labour and human rights violations in the garment supply chains make it a moral duty for the EU to act.
  • When the Rana Plaza building collapsed on 24 April 2013, identifying the companies that were sourcing from one of the five Rana Plaza factories was crucial in establishing responsibility. This ultimately enabled the delivery of compensation to the injured survivors and killed workers’ families. However, neither the European Union nor its Member States were able to provide such information. This was in sharp contrast to the United States of America and Canada, where labour organizations could identify the companies sourcing from Rana Plaza within hours, due to the existence of detailed import databases.
  • Supply chain transparency empowers companies in their capacity to identify, assess, mitigate and provide remedy for the actual or potential adverse human rights impacts
  • The European Union – as the biggest consumer market in the world – is extremely well-placed to level the playing field. The EU can achieve this by requiring that garment companies in its internal market carry out a strong human rights due diligence, and by creating supportive enforcement mechanisms for existing or emerging initiatives.

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