Australian fashion retailers are not paying enough attention to the conditions of workers who are providing the materials for and creating their products, according to a report released Wednesday.

In the report, charity organization Baptist World Aid Australia assessed the fashion outlets on a number of key labor rights metrics, including policies, knowing and auditing suppliers, and worker empowerment.

Empowerment of employees was identified as one of the key concerns by the group, who awarded an average of a “D+” grade to the companies assessed, and the report highlighted worrying statistics for those businesses who source their products from Cambodia, India and Bangladesh, where many are paid below living wages.

The organization also highlighted the “Sumangali Scheme” in India, whereby young women and girls are bound by contracts spanning 3 to 5 years to work in factories, and are afforded little to no rights in often “hazardous conditions.”

According to surveys conducted by the report, only 24 percent of Australian businesses have methods in place to help those who are forced or child laborers to rehabilitate when discovered, and only 32 percent of businesses have a method for employee grievance resolution at their final supplier locations.

Living wages, a wage that allows the worker to cover their basic needs along with being able to have a small disposable income, was also assessed by the report and concluded that no Australian companies were able to show that their raw materials suppliers were being paid a living wage, while only 1 percent of companies could demonstrate that their inputs, or finished materials workers were receiving living wages.

The report which assessed 103 Australian companies, gave an average grade of “C+,” with 13 businesses receiving “A” grades, while 10 companies were given fail grades. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/