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Aussie brands more shabby than chic

Just jeans just groupAustralian clothing companies Just Jeans, Best & Less, and Lowes have been named as some of the worst performers when it comes to protecting workers in their international supply chain, a new report shows.

The Baptist World Aid’s 2015 Fashion Report also found just nine per cent of global and domestic fashion brands pay their international supply workers a living wage.

In Bangladesh, the current minimum wage of US$68 per month falls short of the US$104 per month, which is being touted as a fair living wage.

More than 85 per cent of Australian companies were shown to not be paying international supply workers enough to meet basic needs.

One of the worst overall performers was fashion brand Just Group – owner of Just Jeans, Portmans and Jay Jay’s – which received an overall D grade in categories such as transparency, policies, and training of workers.

Just Group was given an F grade for worker rights.

Best & Less also performed badly with a D grade and Lowes with an overall F grade.

Gershon Nimbalker, advocacy manager at Baptist World Aid, said research shows an additional 30 cent per t-shirt would ensure living wages are met in Bangladesh.

“While an increased number of companies know the factories where their final manufacturing takes place, only nine per cent have traced down to the people picking their cotton,” said Nimbalker.

“If companies don’t know or don’t care who is producing their products, it’s much harder to know whether workers are being exploited or even enslaved.”

The report, which analysed 59 apparel companies and 219 brands, found other Australian companies have made significant improvements over the 18 months since the last report.

Since 2013, Kmart and Cotton On have improved their traceability of suppliers throughout their supply chains, while Country Road and the Sussan Group have improved worker wages, the report said.

The report comes two years after the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh, which killed more than 1100 workers.

The report comes at the conclusion of Australian Fashion Week.


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