There is a high risk of modern slavery identified in the garment and textile industry. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) ranks manufacturing as the sector with the third-highest proportion of victims of forced labour worldwide. Australian businesses may also be exposed with more than 70% of imported clothes in Australia being sourced from countries at high risk of modern slavery.
Risk factors include a vulnerable workforce in a labour-intensive sector, low-tier suppliers in high risk geographies, unethical purchasing practices by companies and the prevalence of sub-contracting practices employed by suppliers.
Women and girls are disproportionately affected by modern slavery in the garment and textile industry with approximately 80% of the 60 million people working in the sector being women.
Businesses can build their capacity to identify and manage risks through effective due diligence procedures. Ensuring that suppliers understand and comply with the labour laws is critical to protect workers’ rights and safeguard businesses against reputational damage.
Initiatives such as Action, Collaboration and Transformation (ACT) and Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) highlights how sector collaboration can play a key role in transforming the industry and promoting respect for workers’ rights.
Download our Industry Insights Paper on the garment and textile sector.