Levi’s is at the center of a new pressure campaign from human rights watchdog Remake ahead of New York Fashion Week.
The campaign cites worker testimony as new evidence and calls on Levi to sign a legally binding worker safety agreement.
Other works by WWD
Remake founder Ayesha Barenblat told WWD: “We will never campaign in isolation in the West. claimed to be in accordance with [to center] Levi’s,’ she went on to say, adding that Levi’s strong supplier presence in Bangladesh and Pakistan and its public commitment to welfare and worker safety calls for a closer scrutiny of workers’ testimonies.
Announced Monday and running until September 11, Remake’s campaign is in partnership with the Sommilito Garments Sramik Federation, which represents Bangladesh’s 70,000 female garment workers, and Pakistan’s Labor Education Foundation. As part of a grassroots campaign, Remake has encouraged brands such as Levi’s, Denizen and Dockers (both owned by Levi’s) to sign its online network into binding security agreements such as the International Agreement, which is the successor to the Bangladesh Accord. It said it had sent over 1,700 emails with instructions to sign. The international pact has already been signed by 176 brands, including Tommy Hilfiger, Uniqlo, Zara, Adidas and H&M.
Members of the Remake Coalition have staged protests at Levi’s stores in more than 14 cities, including Philadelphia, Washington DC, London and Delhi, urging dialogue with store managers on the importance of workplace safety and international agreements. increase.
In a series of worker video testimonies reviewed by WWD (names and factories omitted for worker safety), workers described extreme heat, lack of machine safety protocols, theft of wages, They cited concerns such as verbal abuse and physical abuse. The testimony was recorded as part of a monthly Touchbase conducted behind closed doors by Remake and other labor rights groups. Collaborative conversations are meant to provide a safe space for union leaders, activists and workers to voice their concerns, and the format has even cemented viral campaigns like #PayUp.
“I work as a cutting operator in a factory that makes Levi’s and Adidas products,” one worker said in testimony. “Recently, the factory forklift broke down and a worker broke his leg. Management sent him home. A few years ago there was a fire at a factory in Karachi [Pakistan], many workers died and there was no compensation. We workers are suffering because of inadequate safety measures. (Note: Adidas is a signatory to the international agreement, but the remake didn’t put the brand at the center of the campaign.
Another worker, a machine operator for brands such as Levi’s-owned Denisen and Dockers, said safety measures were lacking and security guards at the machines were unavailable, as was access to clean and cold water. Workers claimed abuse, worker injury costs, and forced overtime were common.
Others, like quality inspectors at Levi’s and SGSF members, reiterated substandard safety measures and argued that: Our production manager does not allow us to receive treatment. We are forced to work above our quotas and our managers often overwork us. They abuse us even when we reach our goals. Sometimes they hit us and often use curse words against us. When an employee makes a small mistake, management punishes us immediately. ”
Levi’s sources from over 40 countries and documents health and safety violations in a 300-page sustainability guidebook and accompanying annual report. The concerns raised in the remake and worker testimony violate company policy but are not the first documented occurrence. A spokeswoman pointed to previous statements about the issue and programs in place.
“At Levi Strauss & Co. (LS&Co.), we believe that the workers who make our products should work in a safe and healthy environment and be treated with dignity and respect. In 1991, we became the first multinational company to adopt a comprehensive supplier code of conduct that prioritizes worker safety, including an annual fire safety assessment, in our terms of contract. Over the past 30 years, we have adapted our policies and practices where necessary, and have continued to dedicate resources to efforts that make the biggest difference for workers in our supply chain.”
Sign up for WWD’s newsletter. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for the latest news.
Click here to read the full article.