Worker Exploitation and Abuse is widespread
Fascinating read in The Atlantic. Patagonia as a company has tried hard to remove exploitation from it’s supplier chain, but in 2011 they decided to investigate deeper, beyond the usual first-tier direct suppliers, into their second level, and they found abuses of labour laws and unethical practices in their sub-suppliers that they are now aiming to eliminate.
What’s most interesting (and saddening at the same time) is that Patagonia is a rare company which is deeply interested in combating exploitation of workers, and even they can’t eliminate it all from their supply chains.
Most if not all global apparel manufacturers exploit workers abroad, not only at companies that produce cheap or low-quality goods. And evidence of forced labor doesn’t mean that a company is being willfully negligent. Patagonia’s admission stands out in that it comes from a brand considered a leader in the movement for ethical production, demonstrating the enormity, and the difficulty, of the task of protecting workers in massive, fractured supply chains.
Labor trafficking is a huge problem globally. There really isn’t any industry that is immune to this problem,” says Agatha Tan, a senior adviser on labor trafficking at the Polaris Project.
It’s going to take concerted action from both governments (laws and enforcement) and companies (social pressure) to even hope to eliminate the abuse and trafficking of labour.