Transparency Report II: Have Hong Kong Garment Companies Improved Their Reporting on Labour Standards?

Oxfam Hong Kong, March 2009

, by Oxfam International

Hong Kong garment companies have demonstrated progress on reporting their labour standards, although the majority of the 26 companies surveyed still show poor transparency, according to Transparency Report II released by the poverty alleviation agency, Oxfam Hong Kong. Oxfam’s first Transparency Report was issued in 2006.

The report rates how well 26 Hong Kong garment companies report their labour standards in the supply chain. The 47-page report is part of Oxfam Hong Kong’s continuous dialogue with the corporate sector: the agency states that more disclosure about labour standards is one way to benefit poor people in developing countries, primarily low-paid factory workers. With better labour standards comes less poverty in the workforce.

As global pressure mounts from consumers and investors on apparel brands, seven companies, including Esquel, Li & Fung, Glorious Sun, Esprit, Giordano, Chickeeduck and Hembly have started to report on, and account for, their supply chain (see Report p.16 for the overall company scores). Sustainability reporting on labour and social compliance is likely to become a trend among the more responsible companies in Hong Kong in the near future.

The majority of the 26 garment companies do not provide consumers or investors with sufficient information to make ethical consumption or investment choices: 19 of the 26 companies scored 0, 25 of the 26 scored less than 40, and Esquel attained the highest score with 70 out of 100 points (which compares favourably with the top company scores in Canada, where this exercise has been replicated).

"It is clear that most companies surveyed have plenty of room for improvement," said John Sayer, Director General of Oxfam Hong Kong. "Consumers have the right to know if their clothes are made ethically – without child labour or compromising the labour rights of the factory workers. Socially responsible and institutional investors have the right to know if their investment decisions are made ethically.”

* Read the report "Transparency Report II: Have Hong Kong Garment Companies Improved Their Reporting on Labour Standards?" (pdf, 52 p.)