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New AFWA Report About Gap Highlights Major Rights Violations

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Gap

H&M wasn’t the only popular retailer that was called out for poor workers’ conditions this week.

The Asia Floor Wage Alliance (AFWA) released another report, titled “Precarious Work in the Gap Global Value Chain,” which highlighted major rights violations at Gap supplier factories in Cambodia, India and Indonesia.

“Shedding light on the gaps in implementation of Gap commitments, violations of international labor standards and challenges Gap may face in upholding commitments to decent work, this report contributes new research collected through interviews with 150 workers in India and Indonesia engaged in Gap supply chains,” the group said.

According to the report, “Industrial uncertainty caused by buyer purchasing practices is displaced upon workers through the use of flexible job contracts, unemployment due to fluctuations in production and downward pressure on wages. “

The structure of global supply chains causes major disadvantages for factory workers, because their labor is in the hands of an uncertain market. Temporary work contracts don’t allow workers to receive benefits, healthcare, pensions and assistance if unemployed.

Wage abuse was also called out by the AFWA in the report, despite what Gap stated in a 2014 Clean Clothes Campaign Survey: “We remain committed to the principle that wages for a standard working week should meet the basic needs of factory workers and provide them with discreionary income. Our approach to wages is aligned with international legal standards set by the ILO (International Labor Organization) tand in accordance with the ETI’s (Ethical Trading Initiative) Base Code, as well as with SAI’s (Sustainable Agriculture Initiative) principles.”

Although Gap claimed to be aligned with these standards and principles, AFWA alleged it did not propose a methodology for workers’ standard of living wages.

The group also found that most Gap supplier factories in Cambodia, India and Indonesia lacked proper working conditions. Following the Rana Plaza tragedy, Gap did not join 100 other retailers in signing the 2013 Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh.

“To date, Gap has refused to make a contractual commitment to work with their suppliers and local and international trade unions to ensure that repairs are made and workers have the right to refuse dangerous work,” the report said.

The release of “Precarious Work in the Gap Global Value Chain” coincides with the 2016 International Labor Conference and is part of a series called “Workers’ Voice From Global Supply Chains: A Report to the ILO 2016.”  At this conference, global supply chain malpractice is discussed and resolutions are set for future labor rights progress. Organizations present this year include the international Asia Floor Wage Alliance, the Clean Clothes Campaign (EU) and Jobs with Justice (USA).

Executive Director of Jobs with Justice Sarita Gupta spoke about what is needed at this year’s ILO:

“These recommendations–which include, for the first time, an outline for an international, cross-border living wage–are essential in improving the lives of billions of workers in Asia, the United States and worldwide. We can only hope that they will listen.”

For more information about the series, visit AFWA’s website.

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