Human rights violations are getting worse in the apparel industry

Human rights violations in apparel industry

Human rights violations are getting worse in the apparel industry

One of the few benefits to come out of the pandemic was shining a spotlight on the working conditions of people in the third world.

The apparel industry employs 60 million workers around the world, nearly 75% of whom are women, and the lack of ethical conditions and fair wages in the industry came as a shock to many.

Unfortunately, even though more people are aware of what goes on in these sweatshops than ever before, conditions aren’t improving.

In fact, according to a recent report, human rights violations are getting worse.

Horrific working conditions

Odds are, the clothes you are wearing came from either China, Bangladesh, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, or the Philippines.

And it’s understandable why people don’t think about where their clothes come from; price is more of an issue to the average consumer- we’re all struggling at the moment.

But it’s important to take a moment and think about the impact our choices have on those halfway around the world.

Most of our clothes are made in countries in which workers’ rights are limited or nonexistent.

Dangerous working conditions, 18 hour workdays, no breaks, less than a living wage… according to the European Parliament this is modern-day slavery.

Woman working in horrible conditions

The Verisk Maplecroft report

A report published by risk intelligence company Verisk Maplecroft, says that Human Rights violations have increased in the past four years.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, health crises, disasters, conflict and widespread human rights violations have increased, straining global supply chains, but according to the report, this is a continuation of what was already happening.

Over the past five years, issues such as child labour, forced labour, health and safety, and the exploitation of migrants in the workplace have worsened globally for the industry.

Apparel manufacturing hubs such as Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Cambodia have all gone from ‘high’ to ‘extreme’ risk for modern slavery.

As shocking as these figures are, there is a ray of light coming from the Western World.

A push for change in the West

While it can be argued that conditions in the East are only so bad because of demand in the West, it’s only fair to say it’s the West that is pushing for human rights legislation.

Consumers, in general, are becoming more conscious about how and where their clothes are made, a growing trend for workers’ rights and sustainability seems to be having a knock-on effect for businesses.

UK retailers

In Britain, Tesco, Primark, Asos and John Lewis among others are calling on the government to introduce legal requirements for companies to carry out human rights and environmental checks on their global supply chains.

This comes on the back of a scandal involving poor treatment of workers in a factory in Leicester, England, including long hours and pay as low as half the minimum wage.

The signatories said changing the law would establish the UK as “a leader in setting standards for renewed and sustainable prosperity worldwide” as it recovers from the Covid crisis.


Last month a new bill was signed into law in California that could “upend the apparel supply chain”.

Senate Bill 62 means that more than 45,000 Californian garment workers will receive at least a minimum wage for their labour, while also holding brands and retailers liable for wage theft in their supply chains, including when third-party contractors are involved.

The Bill is a game-changer for the apparel industry in California, the world’s 5th largest economy.

It means brands can no longer self-regulate, and will be held liable for the fair and legal payment of their workers.

Sewing in the third world

Workers rights are human rights

Here at immago, we do everything in our power to ensure any worker in our supply chain is treated fairly and with respect.

With decades of experience in the industry, we have seen more than our fair share of change, both good and bad.

It also means we have changed ourselves, growing with the times, accepting and meeting the challenges that have arisen.

We have helped other businesses in the industry change to become more sustainable as well as sourcing workers and factories with a strong history of human rights.

We are in many countries across the world, with local contacts helping us make the right calls when it comes to fair and safe working conditions.

If you would like to know more about how we can help your business aim for a more just and sustainable future, then please contact us today.

Our friendly and experienced staff members will be happy to have a chat.