In 2018, we carried a range of strategic in-country activities across a number of countries:
One of the biggest challenges we face relates to instances concerning factories hiring undocumented migrant workers and refugees. For example, in 2018, a supplier alerted us to two Syrian refugees working in a factory we were planning to use. Our Ethical Team, in conjunction with the Home Office and a Turkish charity, worked to ensure that they obtained the necessary permits to work in the factory legally. We have since reminded all our Turkish suppliers to use our Migrant Worker Guidelines to manage the recruitment and employment of migrant workers, and to ensure that their conditions of employment are equal to those of local workers.
Most of our UK manufacturing is based in Leicester, and our Ethical Trade team, buyers and technologists visit the area frequently, alongside ad-hoc and unannounced visits by third-party audit firms.
The T-Shirt Guy, has been awarded a grant through the EU Collaborate Project to create a new garment processing unit to bring the printing, embellishment, re-processing, labelling and packing of its t-shirts in-house. Selection criteria for the grant included high standards of labour management and worker satisfaction. Leicester City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “It’s been excellent to see first-hand how the Collaborate project is supporting innovative and forward-thinking businesses in Leicester.”
In 2019 Arcadia Group will become a signatory to the Apparel and General Merchandise Public Private Protocol. This new initiative commits all signatories to raise awareness about worker exploitation, vulnerable workers and exploitative practices; working together on preventative actions and on bringing criminals to justice in the UK garment sector.
Bangladesh will continue to be an important sourcing country for our brands, and we remain committed to our role in improving safety and sustainability in Bangladesh’s apparel industry through the Bangladesh Accord.
The Accord is an independent, legally-binding agreement between brands and trade unions to work towards a safe and healthy garment and textile industry in Bangladesh. All the factories that we have worked with for a year or more are over 85% remediated against the Accord.
We will continue supporting suppliers and factories until we achieve a 100% remediation rate for all our factories in Bangladesh.