Oxfam welcomes Just Group ban on sandblasted jeans

Campaigns and Advocacy, Media Releases article written on the 23 Sep 2011

Oxfam welcomes Just Group’s public announcement today banning the purchase of sandblasted jeans.

The company has committed to sell out all remaining stock and not place any further orders for sandblasted jeans. The Just Group brands include Just Jeans, Jay Jays, Dotti, Portmans and Jacqui E.

Oxfam Australia has been calling on the company to ban the dangerous denim finishing technique and demonstrate that its overseas suppliers are not putting their workers’ health at risk. Sandblasting is known to cause silicosis — a pulmonary disease caused by the inhalation of silica dust, which has resulted in dozens of documented fatalities.

“Just Group has taken an important first step today,” said Oxfam Australia’s Director of Policy James Ensor.

“We will continue to encourage Just Group to implement the other five steps of the ban, in particular ensuring that workers who were exposed to sandblasting receive medical checks.

“We also encourage Just Group to improve transparency in its operations by publishing a list of its supplier factories. Without this transparency it is not possible to externally verify the conditions for workers making Just Group products.”

Just Group joins global brands, including Levi Strauss, Gucci, Benetton and Esprit that have banned the dangerous practices of sandblasting. Some of the companies are making good progress towards fully implementing the ban—hiring health and safety specialists, changing product designs and providing training so that local staff and buyers can deal with sandblasting issues.

“Oxfam is encouraging all Australian retailers selling denim products to follow Just Group’s example and implement a ban on sandblasting,” said Mr Ensor.

Notes to Editors:

Six step ban on sandblasting (as recommended by the Fair Trade Centre/ Clean Clothes Campaign report on sandblasted denim http://www.cleanclothes.org/resources/national-ccc/fashion-victims)

1. Publish a policy stating that sandblasting will not be used in the supply chain.
2. Enforce the ban of sandblasting throughout entire supply chain by using adequate monitoring processes in co-operation with local / factory-based trade unions and NGOs.
3. Ensure that all workers who have worked at facilities sandblasting products are contacted and receive medical checks.
4. Ensure that workers in the supply chain who have been affected by silicosis urgently receive medical care and are provided with financial compensation.
5. Ensure that all workers who have worked in sandblasting in the supply chain and stand to lose their jobs with the banning of this practice are prioritized for re-hiring and receive re-training if necessary.
6. Perform adequate risk assessments when new production methods are introduced.

For further media information, please contact:
John Lindsay, Oxfam Australia on 0425 701 801 or johnlindsay@oxfam.org.au