Fired for requesting ‘clean drinking water’

Andrew TS Twitter 738 workers who make Mango clothes in Burma were fired 1

Since I read this post and words by Venetia La Manna, an incredible activist and one of the best call-out accounts I’ve been following for a while who promotes slow fashion, veganism and much more, I couldn’t stop thinking about it: ”Mango fired 738 workers for requesting ‘clean drinking water.” Devastating.

View this post on Instagram

But @Mango have a “Sustainable Choice” section on their website, so it’s fiiiiiine 🙃🙃🙃🙃🙃⁣⁣ ⁣ These firings happened months ago at the Dihuali Factory outside Yangon, Myanmar who supply both @mango and @lidlgb. The workers have been notifying both brands with no real response. ⁣ ⁣⁣ Sending solidarity to the garment workers in Myanmar who are fighting this billion dollar company for their basic human rights. ⁣The brands will no doubt shift the blame to “outsourcing of production”, but this is just a scapegoat. They hold the power here.⁣ ⁣⁣ Support: @ccc_eastasia⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Listen: to the @RememberWhoMadeThem podcast. This is a *FREE* (and advert free too!) 6 part series. We speak directly to garment workers and their unions to share their stories and learn how we can support their work to dismantle this oppressive system.

A post shared by Venetia La Manna (@venetialamanna) on

You might ask: ”How this could be even possible in 2020? Mango is doing so good… I love Mango. They aim to eliminate 160 million plastic bags per year from supply chain. Also, they have a ‘sustainable’ section on their website! They look like they care about the planet and their workers. Is this even true?’‘ Trust me, I’ve been there. I know how it feels and what kind of questions come to your mind and that’s why I’m here. I’m going to explain to you what happened in case you didn’t know about it and why the answer to these accusations mean nothing to me at this point.

These dismissals happened months ago at the Dihuali Factory in Yangon (Myanmar), which makes clothes for Mango – and also, supplies Lidl – for demanding drinking water, toilets, fire safety, and social distancing protections. Mango claims to be a ‘sustainable brand’, right?

Myanmar’s garment industry 

Behind Myanmar’s growing garment industry, there are thousands of women who are facing tough conditions, that often means enduring harassment and discrimination. For a little perspective, An updated draft of the National Prevention and Protection of Violence Against Women law came out in January after seven years of wrangling. Yes, that’s right. January 2020.

There is no law to protect women, which makes them too scared to speak out about working conditions problems or harassment. And although Myanmar has improved working conditions in the country with a minimum wage of $3.5 per day, it’s still one of the lowest in Asia.

Most of these women are making just enough money to pay the rent, food and credit phone. The rest, they send it home. And due to the pressure from their supervisors, when they have to work overtime, they often find themselves going home alone at night, being exposed to people with dubious intentions. 

At a meeting run by women’s rights group BusinessKind, garment workers discuss changes in the minimum wage. © Libby Hogan

WHO OWNS MANGO?

Isak Andic Ermay, founder and largest shareholder in the clothing retail chain Mango, has a net worth of $1.4 BILLION, according to Forbes. In addition, the company has over 2,100 stores in 110 countries and 822 factories worldwide that have produced for Mango in the current year 2020, mainly in East Asia. Keeping this in mind, although the cost of living in garment-producing countries is indeed cheaper, garments workers are still not paid a wage that covers their basic needs, such as food, shelter, clothing and education.

Mango, as part of its commitment to transparency and sustainability, has published a list of the Tier 1 production factories in its global supply chain, making it the first major company in the Spanish fashion sector to do it. The publication of the list is part of the Bilateral Agreement signed two years ago between Mango and Comisiones Obreras in terms to be more transparent and work together to strengthen human rights plus develop a more sustainable industry. This list is available for viewing at the Mango website.

MANGO REPLIES TO THE ACCUSATIONS

However, after this blew up in social media, we all received the same copy and paste in response:

In conclusion, they were informed about the situation in the Dihuali factory and they’ve been working for a solution for MONTHS – remember, for demanding clean water – and AFTER MONTHS, now, they are ‘close to an agreement.’ What a coincidence! ”We are close to reaching an agreement in the following hours with all the parties to resolve the situation.” Please note that I received these messages a week ago. Have you seen any press release? No? Me neither! To be honest, not sure that their code of conducts means anything at this point.

I’m not going to lie. I’m very impressed with the amount of information available right now on their website but don’t get me wrong. And don’t be fooled. This is just an attempt to blind the true facts from a situation. This is not necessarily entirely negative, it could be a long-lasting and ethical change. Transparency is a good place to start, but this doesn’t make the brand sustainable or a fair and ethical one.

As I always said in social media. I’m just here to encourage more consideration around what and who we are supporting.

If you would like to learn more about how to avoid the Greenwashing Trap or the ugly truth of fast fashion, here are some resources that you might find interesting:

Leave a Reply