The problem that I am exploring is the lack of ethics in the fashion industry, especially within the fast fashion segment. The extreme rate of efficiency that is necessary for fast fashion companies to be successful leads to many high-risk situations in garment factories. My first thought is that there isn’t enough laws and regulations for labor in these countries. There is no global standard so every country has different requirements. In the countries that house garment factories, the living standards are much lower than in the United States. So companies such as Zara can excuse their poor wages and working conditions because its better than the alternative. This blatant For this reason, I did some research on the International Labour Organization (ILO).
By searching the ILO website, I discovered document detailing that in 2002 they created the Factory Improvement Programme (FIP). This program was designed to improve workplace issues in the garment factories. In 2002 it was first implemented in Sri Lanka and focused on “upgrading the working environment to reduce the physical strain on workers and other associated health risks.” In addition to these benefits, it increased efficiency in these garment factories with less quality rejects and there was a decrease in absenteeism. This was so effective in improving the quality and production processes as well as the management-worker relationship, that it was eventually adapted for Vietnam.
While I think that this is a great program that seems to have been effective, I’m wondering why this hasn’t been implemented everywhere. If it was so successful, how is there not implementation worldwide? Since these improvements, companies such as Zara have found other countries which they can exploit. For example, Zara is now producing in Bangladesh as well as many other companies such as Walmart, The Children’s Place, and Mango (all of which are involved in fast fashion). These companies were pressing extremely fast deadlines on garment factories. Zara has a turnaround of two weeks to get new merchandise into stores. As a result we had the collapse of Rana Plaza because there was a blatant disregard for the safety of workers. All that the management of these factories cared about was meeting the deadline so as to preserve their bottom line and preserve a good relationship with these global giants. It seems that these companies are looking the other way until they have no choice but to make improvements.
The information that I found on ILO’s website will be very useful because it will help to build an unbiased argument. This information seems to be reliable since it is directly from the government organization but they could be biased in that they are proud of the work they have done so they could attempt to hide any flaws there might have been with this program. In addition, this information is not as current as I hoped it would be so I would have to do more research on how the program has developed since then.