Today I received the following comment from one of my most active readers:
“Surprised. Just-Style comment “Towards an Asian sustainable development strategy” talks about India in Myanmar, without mentioning labour. Was the “labour” out of the sustainable topic or nothing new mentioned? As the strikes are out of favor as the decades long trend continue, would the increasing militancy go away in its own, or by conscious effort?
Hope the July 15 Webinar will have answers.”
The reader was referring to an article, recently published by Just-Style, perhaps the most influential internet journal in our industry.” http://www.just-style.com/comment/towards-an-asian-sustainable-development-strategy_id125332.aspx?utm_source=daily-html&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=23-06-2015&utm_term=id90458″ title=”Towards An Asian Sustainable Development Strategy”>
Problems related to garment industry workers are very serious indeed. In many countries child labor is endemic, minimum wages either too low to allow for healthy diet or simply not followed. Excessive overtime without a weekly rest day occurs in many factories. Worker safety is too often ignored and worker rights non-existent. The number and serious nature of these problems is growing. Frankly the efforts on the part of governments and garment exporting organizations has all too often proven to be meaningless.
However, these are problems of COMPLIANCE not SUSTAINABILITY.
Sustainability is about water: Reducing consumption and ensuring proper treatment when used for industrial purpose
Sustainability is about air: Ensuring that the air we breathe is free of dangerous particulates and toxic gasses.
Sustainability is about the food we eat: Ensuring that it is free of dangerous additive and bacteria.
Sustainability is about chemicals: Ensuring that no polluting or carcinogenic material are used in the product making process
Sustainability is about preserving the environment
Compliance is important; so too is Sustainability.
There are many serious problems facing our industry; the factories that produce our goods; and the brands that order those goods.
To often these issues have been left in the hands of those on both sides with special interests
Like the reader that posted the comment, I believe that we independent professionals have an obligation to speak out, to drag these issues into the public domain; and fight those who would for personal gain deny the existance of these problems or minimize and obfuscate their importance.
However, we cannot cover everything in a single bite.
It is my plan to conduct a webinar on 15 July: The subject is Compliance: Why has it failed and what steps can we take to ensure future success.
This will be followed a second webinar in August: The subject will be Sustainability.