A new report by the non-profit, Transparentem, “uncovered multiple violations at five [Malaysian] factories that supply to well-known Western brands,” including Nike, Asics, Under Armour, Target, Fruit of the Loom, Primark, Brooks, Calvin Klein and Juicy Couture, among others.
As reported by Fashionista, the alleged abuses range from charging new hires exorbitant “recruitment” fees (ie, forcing them to pay the factory to hire them), to underpayment, to unsanitary conditions, as well as allegations of “verbal abuse and the use of physical force by managers.”
The factories are also alleged to charge lofty “disciplinary” fines, which “can pile up to essentially land [employees] in debt bondage… forcing them to keep working even if they’d like to leave.” And there’s evidence of factories holding employee’s passports hostage, which, is basically the same as holding them hostage.
As for the western brands that produce at the factories, responses to the report have been mixed. Brooks, according to the article, has emerged as a “shining example of what real corporate responsibility should look like” by not only pulling their production, but also offering to pay workers back their recruitment fees. Primark and Target have responded similarly.
On the other end of the spectrum is Nike, who “basically pulled the standard line about not being responsible for subcontractor abuses, since they were never officially authorized.” Sounds about right.
You can read more about it at Fashionista.