Coles joins race to the top by publishing locations of garment factories, says Oxfam

Campaigns and Advocacy, Media Releases, News article written on the 25 Sep 2014

Coles today joins a group of forward-thinking Australian and international companies that have published the locations of overseas factories where their garments are made in an effort to improve conditions for workers.

International aid agency Oxfam, which has been talking with Coles for the past two years about the rights of factory workers, has responded to Coles publishing the locations of supplier factories in India, Cambodia and Vietnam. The company no longer sources from Bangladesh.

Oxfam Australia Corporate Accountability Advisor Daisy Gardener said being open and accountable about where factories were located was an important step in the journey towards improved conditions for garment workers.

“Following the tragic deaths of more than 1,100 workers last year, Australian retailers realised they needed to take working conditions seriously – not just in Bangladesh but right across their supply chains,” Ms Gardener said.

She said low wages, long hours of work and violations of trade union rights were commonplace in the garment sector across Asia.

“Publishing the locations of factories in India, Cambodia and Vietnam will make it possible for unions and independent groups to visit Coles’ supplier factories, speak to workers and support their campaigns for improved wages and conditions”, she said.

“We look forward to the company disclosing the location of all of its supplier factories in the near future.

“The next big step for Coles will be addressing poverty wages and other conditions. Coles is already taking promising steps by providing meals to garment workers at its AbleMax Fong Yean supplier.

“We look forward to Coles implementing this meal program across all of its Cambodian suppliers, as well as ensuring all workers have access to living wages.”

A report on the garment sector in Cambodia by the Clean Clothes Campaign last year found that 33 per cent of a sample of 100 workers was clinically malnourished.

The report found that a living wage of $450 per month would be needed to pay for nutritious food, housing and other basic expenses– more than four times the current minimum wage of $100.

Last week, thousands of garment workers took to the streets of Phnom Penh calling on the legal minimum wage to be increased to $177.

For interviews, please contact Laurelle Keough on 0425 701 801