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Foreign Workers: Clothing

Volume 464: debated on Tuesday 16 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what representations have been made to his Department regarding the wages paid to the workers of UK high street fashion suppliers based in developing countries; and if he will make a statement. (157962)

DFID has not received any specific representation on the issue of wages paid to workers of UK high street fashion suppliers based in developing countries in the last six months. However we are engaged on these issues through a number of organisations and initiatives.

These include the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), which DFID helped set up, and funds. We have provided over £2 million to support the ETI, which is an alliance of companies, trades unions and non-governmental organisations committed to improving working conditions in global supply chains. A recent independent assessment of the ETI showed improvements in health and safety, working hours, wages and child labour in the supply chains of companies taking part. DFID also works at the country level, on labour rights and terms and conditions. For instance, in Bangladesh and Lesotho DFID has supported the work of the Multi-Fibre Arrangement Forum, which supports responsible business practices while improving productivity and competitiveness. DFID is also providing up to £20 million in support to the International Labour Organisation to implement decent work country programmes.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions his Department has had with UK high street fashion stores on (a) the wages paid to the workers of their suppliers in developing countries and (b) ensuring good working conditions and rights for such workers; and if he will make a statement. (157963)

DFID helped set up—and funds—the Ethical Trading Initiative. We have provided over £2 million to support the ETI, which is an alliance of companies, trades unions and non-governmental organisations committed to improving working conditions in global supply chains. A recent independent assessment of the ETI showed improvements in health and safety, working hours, wages and child labour in the supply chains of companies taking part. DFID also works at the country level, on labour rights and terms and conditions.