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Fairtrade textile scheme attracts criticism

Fairtrade International’s new Textile Standard comesinto play to improve working conditions across the textile supply chain in the month of June, but the Clean ClothesCampaign says it targets the wrong organisations and does not go far enough.

The textile industry has been underpressure to regulate working conditions since the collapse of the Rana Plaza incident in Bangladesh in 2013. The building housed several clothing factoriesand the disaster killed more than 1,100 people and injured over 2,500.

The Textile Standard is the first stepin the larger Fairtrade Textile Programme which assesses all stages ofproduction. If all measures are met along the chain, the product can carry aFairtrade Textile Production Mark on its packaging.

According to Martin Hill, interim CEO at FairtradeInternational, they are inviting all textile companies to work togetherwith their staff and with Fairtrade to create a fairer production process fortextiles.

Fairtrade saysthe move goes far beyond any existing standards, and SubinduGarkhel, product manager for cotton at Fairtrade, said it would not rely solelyon audits, with an onsite programme to support workers and factories.

The six-year implementation time forliving wage was described as a “realistic approach”. Factories must showimprovement from year one, then again in year four, and at the end of year six.If the living wage was in place immediately, it would punish the companieswilling to take it up by making them uncompetitive.