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Shortcomings in clothing industry action plan

Steps in the right direction but no critical analysis of company inspections

The industry organisations Modint, Inretail and VGT acknowledge the major issues affecting the clothing and textile sector in their ‘Plan of action to promote sustainability in the Dutch clothing and textile sector 1.0’ as presented to Minister Ploumen. Both they and the Minister wish to bring about structural improvements. The plan has been welcomed by CNV, FNV, Greenpeace, National India Workgroup, Clean Clothes Campaign and SOMO but has also drawn their criticism: “This plan makes some steps in the right direction, but is not yet ambitious and revolutionary enough to cause a change of direction.” The CNV, FNV, Greenpeace, National India Workgroup, Clean Clothes Campaign and SOMO all indicate that a change of direction is required and would urge industry organisations to further realise their vision for corporate social responsibility (CSR). These organisations are challenging the industry to vigorously address chain transparency.

A critical analysis of the current inspections as supervised by companies (‘social audits’) has not been forthcoming. Recent disasters such as Rana Plaza, Tazreen Fashions and Ali Enterprises have revealed that even the more visible oversights are frequently being missed.

The clothing industry should also strive to be more clear about how it can fulfil the UN Guiding Principles on Human Rights and Business, in particular the responsibility laid upon businesses to respect human rights and offer redress to victims of human rights violations (this could involve complaints procedures or financial compensation to victims of disasters).

The goals presented in the action plan on 21st June are not yet sufficiently concrete and it remains unclear how they would be achieved. The plan primarily contains noncommittal pilot projects and informative meetings. It will need to be refined further over the coming months.

In anticipation of this, Dutch clothing and textile companies can make an immediate start in terms of their corporate social responsibility, for example by signing the Bangladesh Safety Accord or considering the agenda of the Greenpeace Detox Challenge.

Publicatiedatum 17 08 2013