Continental Clothing Co. has adopted a robust policy with regard to the following minimum social responsibility criteria:
• No use of child labour
• No use of forced labour
• Safe and healthy working conditions
• Legal labour contracts
• Payment of living wage
• Freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining
• No discrimination against employees
• No excessive hours of work
Continental Clothing Co. has been running a pro-active social responsibility programme as a member of Fair Wear Foundation since early 2006. All the Company’s manufacturing facilities are regularly audited for social compliance and are running active monitoring programmes in accordance with standards advocated by the International Labour Organisation, the Ethical Trading Initiative and other international bodies. The Company publishes an annual Social Report.
We all have a right to a safe and healthy work environment, a living wage, a legally binding contract. We all have a right to be free from discrimination and harassment, to join - or not to join - a labour union, to choose our work freely. We all have a right to fair and reasonable working hours. And our children have a right to go to school.
These are in addition to other compliance certifications, such as SA8000, BSCI, SAFE, GOTS, etc.
Pressure to produce quickly increasing quantities of cheap textiles has led the apparel industry to allow some of the most unethical trade practices on the planet, worst examples include child labour - bonded child labour, excessive working hours – twelve hours a day – seven days a week, unsafe, unhygienic working conditions.
To ensure that Continental Clothing does not contribute to the social injustice seen in manufacturing, commonly known as sweatshop labour, even unwittingly, since 2006 we have made transparent our manufacturing supply chain with independent audits by the non-profit NGO the ‘Fair Wear Foundation’.
What is the flip side of a fashion label? Click here to read reports.
The Fair Wear Foundation (FWF) exists to promote fair labour conditions in the garment industry worldwide. Continental has undersigned the FWF's Code of Labour practices, and thereby has committed ourselves to monitor the factories of our suppliers, and the Fair Wear Foundation verifies that the Code of Labour Practices is implemented and respected at the factories. Continental Clothing was the first company in the UK to become a member.
The proportion of Continental's manufacturing facilities engaged in the FWF audit and monitoring programme is 100%.
The Fair Wear Foundation (FWF) works to improve labour conditions in the garment industry. By affiliating to FWF, we at Continental have committed ourselves to implementing and maintaining a Code of Conduct designed specifically for the garment industry.
Companies that become members of FWF and sign the Code of Conduct take on the obligation to adhere to the labour standards in their own business operations. They also accept the duty to do everything possible to get other companies in their chain (e.g. suppliers) to respect these labour standards.
FWF is governed by the following organisations:
Together with the Ethical Trading Initiative, the Fair Labor Association, Social Accountability International, the Workers Rights Consortium and the Clean Clothes Campaign, FWF participated in the Joint Initiative for Corporate Accountability and Workers’ Rights.
You can find out more about the International Labour Organisation, its work and the international labour conventions by visiting www.ilo.org
Our Code of Conduct is a contract between Continental Clothing and the Fair Wear Foundation.
Members subscribe to the FWF Code of Conduct and accept independent verification of the implementation of the Code of Conduct. They thereby take responsibility for working conditions in the production chain.
The Code of Conduct is based on the Conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Code of Conduct for the Garment Industry incorporates the following eight labour standards:
No use is made of child labour. Employees must have completed their period of compulsory education and must be at least 15 years old. Any form of slavery or comparable practices such as the sale and trafficking of children, debt bondage, serfdom and forced or compulsory labour are out of the question. Children [in the age group 15-18] may not perform any work that, by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to harm their health, safety or morals. Conventions 138 and 182
No use will be made of forced labour; this includes forced labour to redeem a debt of work by jail prisoners. Conventions 29 and 105
Measures will be taken to ensure a safe and hygienic working environment, taking into account the available knowledge in the branch of industry and possible specific risks. Effective measures will be taken to prevent accidents and damage to health resulting from, or related to, the work. Risk factors in the work situation are to be minimised insofar as reasonably possible. Physical violence, threats of physical violence, unusual punishments or disciplinary measures and sexual or other forms of intimidation by the employer are strictly forbidden. Convention 155
Employers’ obligations arising from social insurance laws and regulations applicable to a normal labour contract will not be avoided by introducing sham contracts or apprenticeship contracts where there is no intention to enter into a normal labour contract. Young employees must be given the opportunity to take part in programs of training and education.
The wages and benefits paid for a standard working week will at least match the legal minimum standards or the standards that are common for the branch of industry, and will always be adequate to meet the basic needs of the workers and their families and to provide a certain amount of disposable income. Deductions from wages for disciplinary purposes will not be permitted; deductions from wages for other purposes will only take place insofar as legally permitted. The deductions will never lead to a situation where the employee receives less than the aforementioned minimum wage. Employees are to be informed clearly and adequately regarding their wage specifications, including the basic wage and the period over which it is paid. Conventions 26 and 131
The right of all employees to form or join trade unions and to carry out collective bargaining will be recognised. Employee representatives are not to be discriminated against and are to be given access to all work areas necessary in the performance of their duties as representatives. Conventions 87, 98, 135 and Recommendation 143
Recruitment policy, wage policy, access to training, promotion policy, termination of employment, pensions and all other aspects of labour relations are to be conducted on the basis of equal opportunities, regardless of race, colour, religion, political orientation, trade union membership, nationality, social background, disabilities or handicaps. Conventions 100 and 111
The hours of work will correspond to the prevailing laws and standards for the branch of industry. In no case will workers be obliged to work more than 48 hours per week on a regular basis, and they will be given at least one day off in every 7-day period. Any overtime work will be done on a voluntary basis; will not amount to more than 12 hours per week; will not be called for on a regular basis; and will always be matched by additional compensation. Convention 1
In support of the EJF’s clean cotton campaign, all Continental and EarthPositive garments are labelled with country of origin of the cotton used, thereby demonstrating our commitment to fight against child labour and for worker rights in Uzbekistan and elsewhere.
More high profile retailers such as Tesco, Wall-Mart and Debenhams are starting to recognize the problem of Uzbek cotton, and are demanding identification of the sources of raw cotton from their supply chains.
“Continental Clothing has become, to my knowledge, the first large scale mainstream clothing company to ensure that none of its cotton comes from Uzbekistan. Uzbek cotton is a state monopoly, relying on slave labour and the forced labour of hundreds of thousands of children working in appalling conditions for little, or often no pay. Continental are to be congratulated on this initiative." - Craig Murray, former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan.
Continental guarantees that the cotton we use does not come from Uzbekistan. (Continental uses Turkish, Indian & Egyptian cotton.)
To substantiate this, each of the factories Continental uses have prepared the paperwork for both the organic and non-organic cotton, to show the source of the raw cotton. It took only four days to prepare the documentation, and the documentation had to show the receipt of the cotton as it travels up the supply chain of the manufacturing processes.
BAFTA-winning company Insight News TV is to film at the Continental London offices for a documentary film about Uzbekistan for BBC Newsnight.
Insight News is to interview company spokesperson Mariusz Stochaj about the origin of the cotton Continental use in their T-shirts and apparel. Many clothing companies, particularly high street retailers, have claimed it's too difficult to find out the source of the cotton they use. Continental dispute this, and say that it takes no more than an email or a phone call to the supplier .
Continental spokesperson Mariusz Stochaj spoke out “Factories will bend over backwards for their customers, and especially for the large retailers and fashion brands. Can you really imagine Primark or Matalan being told ‘No’ by any of their suppliers? That would never happen. There is almost nothing they will not do for them, and providing documentary proof of the origin of the cotton, if requested, is the least of their many problems as manufacturers.”
Each of the factories Continental uses, in Turkey, China and India, have prepared the paperwork for both the organic and non-organic cotton, to show the source of the raw cotton. It took only four days to prepare the documentation, and the documentation had to show the receipt of the cotton as it travels up the supply chain of the manufacturing processes.
Mariusz continued, “It was the Turkish factory owner who pointed out the obvious, he said ‘it is only those who are trying to hide something, who cannot provide receipts for the cotton purchases when asked.’ “
Insight News have been filming undercover in Uzbekistan, at great risk to their personal safety, both the 2007 Uzbek ‘Cotton Conference’, and the school children working in the fields alongside their teachers, picking the cotton. Continental Clothing Company, by being the only company to take a stand and to prove the origin of their cotton, and on three continents, is providing the ammunition to confront and question the retailers who purposefully conceal the origin of their cotton.
Mariusz Stochaj: “Consumers deserve to have this information. If a consumer could choose between a cotton T-shirt made using Uzbek cotton, picked by school children forcibly taken from their classes by their government, or a T-shirt made with ‘clean’ cotton, I’m hoping that they’d choose the latter.”
Continental now label their garments with the country of origin of the cotton, following the recommendation of the Environmental Justice Foundation.