Bestseller – a good deal for all?

The aim of the current research was to gain insight into the working conditions and wage levels of two suppliers to the Danish company Bestseller A/S (from now «Bestseller») – one in Cambodia and one in India.
09
May

Bestseller – a good deal for all?

The aim of the current research was to gain insight into the working conditions and wage levels of two
suppliers to the Danish company Bestseller A/S (from now «Bestseller») – one in Cambodia and one in
India.

The report aims to provide essential insights into Bestseller as a multinational; its turnover, which
producer countries it sources from, its main markets, as well as some of the promises the Danish company
has made regarding supply chain management. A final aim of the report is to encourage Bestseller to start
acting in a transparent way regarding the company’s suppliers.

Despite intense calls for the company to disclose its suppliers list, Bestseller has for long rejected to to
follow the recommendations and instead argued that consumers, media organisations and NGOs need put
faith in the multinational doing its utmost to ensure decent working conditions in thsupply chain. Thereby
Bestseller has exposed itself to growing criticism and been portrayed as laggard. Other Nordic companies
H&M, Varner Group, KappAhl and Lindex, as well as European brands such as C&A, adidas and Levi’s have
since long disclosed the name and location of their suppliers, thereby making it possible for trade unions
and other organisations to gain insights into the working conditions at factories where their goods are
produced.

Trade unions and labour rights NGOs are deeply concerned about working conditions and wages in
garment producing countries, among them Cambodia and India. Despite long working days, wages are low
and working conditions inhumane, it is alleged. Recent reports document that garment brands and their
suppliers barely ensure the legal minimum standards mandated by national labour legislation. The
suppression of freedom of association in many factories undermines dialogue with workers’
representatives for a structured improvement in wages and working conditions. Although the concept of
a living wage which ensures a decent living is increasingly considered to be a human right – even by some
garment companies – this recognition in principle has hardly led to actual changes ensuring living wages in
practice.

With this in mind, Future in Our Hands (FIOH), Norway, Center for Alliance of Labor & Human Rights
(CENTRAL) and Civil Initiatives for Development and Peace (Cividep), all civil society organisations, were
interested in finding out about the working conditions at some of Bestseller’s suppliers.
Bestseller is not only a muntinational brand with production and outlets in many countries. It is also
a company which is marketing itself as a very ethical: Its corporate web page is packed with grandoise
words on how it commits to the principles of sustainanale production and respect for human rights in the
supply chain and promisies for the future.

Is it possible to fully trust a company which keeps its supply chain a secret, while at the same time
portraying themselves as truly dedicated to ethical standards? We felt the need to challenge the
apparently impossible combination of secrecy and committment to workers’ rights by talking to workers
that every day produce garments that bring wealth and expansion to the Danish multinational.

With the assistance of local organisations we were able to localize two of Bestseller’s suppliers. According to the multinational, all suppliers need to sign Bestseller’s Code of Conduct and pass it on to their business partners. The Code of Conduct holds legal requirements as well as ethical standards. But what actually
what characterizes the working conditions at Bestselers’ suppliers? How much do the workers earn? Do
they have a permanent employment contract? Can they organize themselves and fight for improved
condition at the workplace without the risk of reprisals? Do female workers get maternity leave when
needed? Can workers refuse overtime? What do they think of their future?

The research provided a test on how well the suppliers performed in meeting the Bestseller’s own
“Sustainability Commitment”, the Cambodian and Indian Labour Law and ILO’s Core Conventions.
The field studies was carried out between December 2016 and February 2017 and the report was finalised
end of March, 2017.

Get Full Report HERE

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