A number of high-street and designer brands are at the forefront of a report by Human Rights Watch regarding the mistreatment of workers at clothing factories in Cambodia.
Evidence that supports claims of anti-union and discriminatory activity has been discovered. In one particular instance short term contracts were found to be restricting the employees in exercising their rights. Cases of forced overtime and improper treatment of pregnant women were also uncovered.
The retailers that the factories in Cambodia supply are Marks & Spencer, H&M, Adidas, Armani and Gap and it has become apparent that a lot of this work is sub-contracted out to smaller factories who tend to recruit staff on a more casual basis. This poses difficulty for employees who have complaints regarding working conditions as there is the added anxiety that they may lose their jobs, according to HRW.
Marks & Spencer do not divulge information about the suppliers it uses, but HRW think that out of 73 factories on which they have collected data, 13 of these are utilised by the retail giant. M&S maintain however that they operate under tight ethical standards and said that “If HRW comes to us with any evidence we will, of course, investigate.” They have agreed to disclose a list of suppliers next year.
Adidas, Gap and H&M are adopting measures to address the issues that have arisen with H&M telling the BBC that smaller factories to whom work was delegated would lose their contracts with the retailer.