The Asia Floor Wage Alliance (AFWA) is filing complaints against some of fashion’s biggest companies in major Asian manufacturing hubs in an effort to hold brands accountable for alleged wage violations in their supply chains.
The move comes amid growing scrutiny on the industry’s business practices as the pandemic has resulted in mounting hardship for many of the people who make its clothes. Labour groups have reported increases in incidents of union busting and wage theft, as well as growing debt among garment workers, tracing the issues back to brands that cancelled orders, delayed payments or demanded discounts during the pandemic.
Most brands don’t operate their own factories and typically rely on private audit systems and voluntary codes of conduct to ensure labour rights are upheld in their supply chains.
AFWA said it is bringing claims in India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Pakistan, arguing that global brands should be considered joint employers alongside their suppliers. It is exploring taking a similar course in Bangladesh and Cambodia.