Labour abuses and human rights violations in companies’ supply chains are increasingly being seen as a key reputational and commercial risk by retailers and other consumer exposed industries. Yet dockworkers, seafarers and other transport workers are often a hidden workforce in global supply chains.
For too long, policies to improve working conditions within global supply chains have reinforced a double standard: striving to improve the working conditions of workers in supply factories and sourcing, while ignoring transport workers who have remained vulnerable to exploitation.
Double standards in ethical fashion
In recent years, global fashion brands have taken steps to develop supply chain policies that ensure minimum conditions for the workers throughout factories and sourcing supply chains. Transport workers, who are crucial for delivering clothing from the factory to stores around the world, remain forgotten in companies policies that ensure workers' rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining, and protections relating to legal judgments, temporary work and safety in the workplace.
In May 2017, the ITF's Asia Pacific Campaign Centre began actively campaigning against major international garment brands transporting goods through the Port of Toamasina in Madagascar. Dockworkers at the port – a vital part of brands' global supply chains – have experienced numerous labour rights abuses.
ITF is challenging global brands sourcing from Madagascar to step up and support the rights of dockworkers at the Port of Toamasina, the response has been positive.
We’ve seen concrete steps to support these workers, with brands writing directly to the Madagascar Government calling on them to enforce international labour standards, reinstate 43 unfairly dismissed dockworkers and allow SYGMMA to represent workers at the port.
ITF and the dockworkers local union SYGMMA will continue to campaign against and engage with international brands to help end the exploitation and violation of labor rights of the Madagascan dockworkers.