Fashion Revolution Day: what is in it for EU policy makers?

24 April 2015 (Brussels) – The Fair Trade Advocacy Office is supporting Fashion Revolution Day on this important world-wide call for action to provoke a systemic change in the textile supply chain.

As pioneers in making supply chains work for the most disadvantaged in world trade, the Fair Trade movement welcomes this initiative that involve all parts of the supply chain to work towards concrete improvements in this sector, and that targets particularly consumers to contribute to this change. However, decision makers need to be made aware of their responsibilities towards this intolerable situation and the legislative and policy measures that are needed to address it.

We deeply deplore the dramatic events that happened in the factories in Bangladesh, Pakistan and other countries where ready-made clothing factories are located where workers don’t earn a decent living income and have to work in a dreadful environment. Unfortunately, these unacceptable conditions are to be felt all across the supply chain: cotton farmers are at the start of a long and complex chain in which they are virtually invisible and wield little power or influence. The current situation of West African countries shows the drastic injustice at the basis of the global trade system, an imbalance that the World Trade Organization (WTO) has so far not been able to address properly. This is why we call on the European Union to use its leverage in trade negotiations within WTO to address urgently cotton within the agriculture negotiations.

Governments are taking some actions towards improving working conditions in global supply chains. The EU, some of its Member States, and the G-7 are discussing different initiatives on cross-cutting issues or a specific value chain like the textile one. These proposals are a welcome step, but they should cover the entire chain: from farmers, including artisans and workers, to end consumers. Priority should be given to ensure that all parts of the chain are guaranteed a living income -in the case of farmers- or wage -in the case of artisans and workers-. The EU should take advantage of these initiatives to actively promote the uptake of Fair Trade schemes. This could be done by European consumers for the clothes they buy, but also by retailers as part of their sourcing policies, and lastly also by public authorities for their purchases. All these pro-active actions are needed for the whole market to shift towards sustainability and equity.

2015 is a crucial year for the development agenda, not only at European level thanks to the European Year for Development, but also because the international community will be jointly defining the future development framework. It is time to act on all these fronts and bring about the political solutions to prevent these tragedies from happening again.

Read this article on Fashion Revolution website.

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