The Guardian has recently uncovered audits and whistleblowing reports from factories that supply the fast-fashion retailer Boohoo. All 18 audit reports raised questions about minimum wage violations at the time they were conducted. Issues identified in these supplier audits include inaccurate hours recorded for workers potentially resulting in workers not receiving the minimum wage or their furlough money, workers not having the right to work in the UK, and employees being issued with contracts that aren’t in their native language amongst others.
Collected news links from external sources related to topics concerning the Book Chain Project.
The UK government has proposed to introduce a new law to prohibit large business operating in the UK from using products that are from illegally deforested land as per local laws. Businesses that fail to carry out due diligence on their supply chains and make that information public would face fines. This proposed legislation will be on consultation for six weeks. Critics say that the proposal is flawed partly because the local laws on forest protections might be absent or have loopholes.
According to an investigation by the environmental charity Earthsight, in the area of forest - Velykyi Bychkiv within Ukraine, loggers appear to be taking advantage of loopholes that allow for “sanitary felling” during the silent periods in the spring and early summer from 2018 to 2020. Some of the wood in question is found in the supply chain of Swedish furniture maker Ikea, who denied wrongdoing and immediately began their own investigations into all parties mentioned in Earthsight’s report.
Covid waste” – dozens of gloves, masks and bottles of hand sanitiser have been found by NGO Operation Mer Prope in the Mediterranean, mixed in with the usual litter of disposable cups and aluminum cans. This is after Hong Kong based NGO OceansAsia raised the alarm earlier on this year, in response to finding masks on the beaches of the uninhabited Soko Islands. This new form of waste could be a sign of things to come in the future.
A new report by Human Rights Watch finds that deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon is a lucrative business largely driven by criminal networks that threaten and attack government officials, forest defenders and indigenous people who try to stop them.
Luxury fashion retailer Hugo Boss said it has found cases of forced labour, a form of modern slavery, in its supply chain. Young female workers have been held captive behind the walls of garment factories in southern India and prevented from leaving the premises at any time.
Major fashion brands are sourcing viscose from factories in China, Indonesia and India which are polluting and damaging health, according to new report. The report cites evidence that carbon disulphide exposure is harming both factory workers and people living near viscose plants. Residential areas nearby the factory are polluted with carbon disulphide levels three times higher than the permitted limit. The report is calling for carbon disulphide to be completely eradicated from the viscose production process, and for all viscose production to occur in a closed loop system which eradicates chemical discharge and prevents harm to workers and the environment. Spokespeople from those brands said they will work continuously with its suppliers to improve conditions and ensure that they adhere to sustainable practices.
Burmese migrants charged with defamation after alleging labour abuses in Thailand’s multimillion-pound poultry export industry. The Burmese migrants allege they were forced to work 22-hour days at Thammakaset Farm 2, at times having to sleep in the chicken sheds with 30,000 hens. They also said their freedom of movement was severely restricted. Thailand’s important and well publicised efforts to systematically address migrant worker exploitation are seriously undermined as migrants cannot speak up.
The appetite for Musk’s electric cars, and his promise to disrupt the carbon-reliant automobile industry, has helped Tesla’s value exceed that of both Ford and, briefly, General Motors (GM). But some of the human workers who share the factory with their robotic counterparts complain of gruelling pressure – which they attribute to Musk’s aggressive production goals – and detailed allegations of mandatory overtime, plus sometimes life-changing injuries.
A new report revealed that children as young as 14 years old have been employed in garment factories in Myanmar supplying some of the most popular UK high street brands. Researchers also found overtime problem and wages below the full legal minimum at some of these factories. Brands have responded to the report findings, recognising the issues highlighted and promising to work with their suppliers on improvement.
One subsidiary of Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (April), Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper (Rapp), has constructed a 3km canal through thick peatland on the island of Pedang, Indonesia, which has led to the suspension of their partnership with WWF and Greenpeace. The canal is built for draining peatland for pulp plantations, which is against both the company’s sustainability standards, and also government regulations. However, the president and director of Rapp insisted the action is legal based on a plan approved by the Indonesian government back in 2013, which was before the catastrophic fires of 2015.
Two organizations, Woodland Trust and Confer, warn that England now is cutting down more trees than planting in the possibly 40 years. They pointed out that England is already one of Europe’s least wooded countries, and the government is missing its target to plant 11 million trees in the UK in the lifetime of this parliament. The UK government responded that the woodland cover was at its highest level since the 14th century, and planting rates vary from year to year. The Woodland Trust, Confor and large commercial forestry groups call on the government to commit to planting 7,000 hectares of woodland every year until 2020 and then to increase planting to 10,000 hectares a year.
Australia haven’t had a palm oil labelling in place after a proposal requiring palm oils to be specifically listed on food labels under consideration by Australia and New Zealand ministers for more than five years. Environmentalists warn that the repeated delays in Australia on mandatory palm oil labelling allows deforestation and the destruction of orangutan habitats.
Two of the world’s leading electronics brands, are facing allegations that workers in their supply chains are being duped, exploited and underpaid in Malaysia, after a Guardian investigation found that Nepalese migrant workers making goods for the global electronics brands claimed to be trapped and exploited. Both Samsung and Panasonic have said they are opening investigations into the conduct of their suppliers following the claims.
The new documentary thriller, Death by A Thousand Cuts, aired in the Raindance film festival in London on 1 October. The film explores how the fate of forests in two neighbouring countries has exacerbated social conflict, xenophobia, poverty, and even resulted in multiple murders. The documentary reveals how the contrasting fate of forests in these two countries due to different approached to natural resource protection and conservation.
Researchers from Harvard and Columbia universities in the US estimated there were more than 90,000 early deaths in Indonesia in areas closest to haze-belching fires, and several thousand more in neighbouring Singapore and Malaysia. The new estimate, reached using a complex analytical model by combining satellite data with models of health impacts from smoke exposure and readings from pollution monitoring stations, is far higher than the previous official death toll given by authorities of just 19 deaths in Indonesia. It triggered calls for action to tackle the “killer haze”.
From 15 November special licences issued by Jakarta will certify the legality of timber products destined for the EU such as pulp, plywood and furniture. This assurance system, will be independently audited to ensure the timber is legally sourced and meets environmental standards. Once the agreement takes effect from 15 November, timber exports from Indonesia that do not carry this certification will be prohibited from trade within the EU.
Environmental Investigation Agency, London-based, released a report saying that an alarming escalation of timber flowing into China has been there over the last three years. The majority of trees being cut down was driven by very wealthy Chinese people, who consider luxury products as a status symbol. 153 Chinese nationals were arrested for illegal logging in Myanmar, but were released in July after receiving a presidential pardon.
Regions along the porous Myanmar-China border have been a source of smuggled illegal timber to satisfy the growing demand from Chinese industry. Stripping natural resources in this way has prompted some resentment in Myanmar towards its more prosperous neighbour, and China has since protested at the harsh sentence. The border regions, which include Kachin state, have seen higher levels of conflict since 2011 between the Myanmar government and Kachin separatists. This escalation may provide sufficient cover for the illegal logging activity to take place.