Global Brands Linked to Latest Shamed Garment Factory

Italian sportswear brand Kappa and U.S.-based retail giant Walmart apparently source clothing from the latest addition to the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) list of low-compliance factories, according to a union leader at the factory who provided the branded tags from the clothing her members cut and stitch.

Hung Tak Garment factory was last week added to the “lowest compliance” category of the ILO’s Better Factories Cambodia (BFC) transparency index. BFC inspectors identified 19 areas in which the factory did not meet basic standards, including illegal wage deductions and the failure to grant annual leave or pay for sick leave.

Tags from clothes being made in the Hung Tak Garment factory, which was named by the International Labor Organization earlier this month as a 'low-compliance' factory (The Cambodia Daily)
Tags from clothes being made in the Hung Tak Garment factory, which was named by the International Labor Organization earlier this month as a ‘low-compliance’ factory (The Cambodia Daily)

Yim Chan, 40, a representative of the Free Trade Union at Hung Tak, gave reporters labels from the garments being made in the factory.

The two brands on the tags are Kappa, which is owned by Basic­Net SpA, an Italian clothing conglomerate listed on the Milan stock exchange, and George, a low-cost clothing line stocked by U.K. retailer Asda and its parent company, Walmart.

Mammy Maguire, a public relations representative for Asda, said via email that the company had not sourced clothes from the Hung Tak factory since 2007. After seeing a photograph of the labels, Ms. Maguire said the George tag was fake and that an investigation would be carried out to find out if the clothes were counterfeit.

Ms. Maguire referred further questions to Walmart, which also carries the George brand.

Betsy Harden, a media relations officer for Walmart, said on Friday evening that she would pass along a request for comment to colleagues who were able to respond, but said a reply in time for publication was unlikely.

Puneet Girdhar, CEO of CTX North America, which controls the Kappa brand in the U.S. and Canada, responded to an emailed request for comment, but referred questions to the Kappa trademark owner, BasicNet. Mr. Girdhar did not respond to requests for contact information for BasicNet, and a request for comment sent through BasicNet’s website did not receive a response in time for publication.

Chan Sreynich was among a num­ber of workers who confirmed that Hung Tak produces clothes for Kappa. She complained of stifling heat in the plant and said that workers would have their bonus pay cut if they took their annual leave.

“There is no air-conditioning, just two fans,” she said. “I could faint from working in that heat.”

Ms. Chan, the FTU representative, said that workers, who are guaranteed a minimum wage of $100 a month, often had their $10 attendance bonus cut if they happened to fall sick.

“If we become sick during working hours they allow us to go home, but they still cut down our money,” she said.

But Ms. Chan added that she had recently seen conditions improving in the factory. “If compared to the nearby factories, it’s better than the others,” she said.

(Additional reporting by Colin Meyn)

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