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Fashion Logistics and Human Rights

guatemala-labor-laws.jpgSeveral heavyweights in the apparel world – including Gap, Nike, Adidas and Liz Claiborne – are calling for the Guatemalan government to better enforce its labor laws in light of concerns over a string of labor rights violations.

According to MR Magazine:

The apparel companies all source in Guatemala and say they want to see the “timely resolution” of a complaint filed in 2008 by the US government under the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA).

The 2008 complaint was the first labor complaint filed under CAFTA, alleging that the Guatemalan government has failed to enforce laws guaranteeing workers the right to organize and bargain collectively, as well as the right of association and acceptable conditions of work.

Subsequent reviews by the US confirmed “significant weaknesses” in Guatemala’s enforcement of its labor laws — but consultations failed to agree on an adequate enforcement plan.

“We hope that your Administration will move swiftly to reach a resolution that is satisfactory to the parties involved,” the apparel firms say.

Here at The Apparel Logistics Group, we wholeheartedly support this move, and we think our third party logistics services can help companies contribute to improvements across the globe.

Labor rights are a tricky issue, but one that no company with a multinational supply chain can fully avoid confronting. Apparel supply chain networks are simply too far-reaching and too diverse these days to float above some of the darker realities that emerge sometimes when engaging with certain distant corners of the earth.

And it’s not always clear what should be the best thing to do. For example, what might seem like shockingly low and exploitative wages to people from wealthier regions of the world can actually be life-boosting opportunities. Most notably, the rapid industrialization of China – driven largely by low-wage manufacturing – has helped lift millions of people out of poverty.

But there’s a difference between comparatively low wages and outright labor abuses. And human rights abuses should have no place in the apparel industry. Let us repeat lest it sound like we’re equivocating -- there’s simply no place for the exploitation of workers in the apparel industry.

In fact, with the right amount of information, understanding, and supply chain management expertise, we think apparel companies can play a big role in improving the plight of workers across the world.

Here are three ways effective supply chain management (and our 3PL apparel supply chain services) can help:

Clarity

That knowledge is power might be a bit of a cliché, but in this case your knowledge can empower others. Strong supply chain management implies a thorough, end-to-end understanding of how it's designed, who’s doing the work, and what’s going on inside your factories – even when you’re not there.

Simplicity

Similarly, if you’re stuck with a convoluted or over-complicated supply chain, you’ll be less able to maintain awareness of and control over each link.

Flexibility

Simply put, if your too beholden to one factory or distribution route, then you have very little leverage over how they treat their workers. But a big part of fashion logistics is flexibility – the ability to adjust rapidly to adjusting conditions. This sort of resilience also gives you the ability to demand better labor treatment. Beyond human rights, supply chain flexibility can also make a huge difference when a natural disaster strikes or violent conflict erupts.

Posted: 5/21/2012 12:25:16 PM by Global Administrator | with 0 comments


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