By Brian Collett — An appeal for close collaboration between businesses in the textile industry to eliminate forced labour has been made by a group led by Humanity United
, an NGO that seeks new approaches to global problems.
Humanity United, based in Washington DC and San Francisco, is asking the commercial and non-profit sectors to combine to implement responsible policies.
The campaigners’ list of abuses includes modern slavery and other practices, such as debt bondage, under which employees must work to pay off loans with oppressively high interest rates.
The targets are the farms producing cotton and other textile crops, and the factories where clothing is produced.
Uzbekistan is one of the countries singled out. Humanity United says the cotton-harvesting season turns swathes of Uzbekistan into vast forced labour plantations.
Kilian Moote, director of Humanity United’s KnowTheChain project,
which is aimed at remedying injustices in the apparel industry, said: “In countries where the rule of law is weak or corruption is high, and where there’s agricultural production [of crops] such as cotton, there is a high risk that forced labour is something that is happening.”
Other critics complain that companies often do not know which operators are in their supply chain, and many do not care.
Moote reminded them: “Individual brands need to understand what collaboration means in their sector. And they have to move beyond this business fear that collaboration can’t happen.”