Jeans sandblasting and the real fashion victims

Labour rights article written on the 18 Mar 2011

A growing number of global denim brands have taken action to end the life threatening practise of sandblasting. But there is still a long way to go towards a global ban. Labels including Dolce & Gabbana, Benneton and Diesel are refusing to take action.

In late 2010 the Clean Clothes Campaign contacted dozens of major denim labels about the serious risks faced by sandblasting operators in garment producing regions. They asked the brands to support a global ban on denim sandblasting and to immediately end sandblasting in their own supply chains.

Thanks to the hard work of campaigners and supporters, more than thirty major brands have now confirmed their support for the global sandblasting ban. You can see a complete list of the brands here. In addition, Levi Strauss & Co. and H & M have agreed to collaborate with the International Textile Garment and Leather Workers’ Federation to draft a manifesto banning the use of sandblasting in denim.

But there is still a long way to go towards achieving a global ban—a number of brands, including Dolce & Gabbana, Benneton and Diesel, still refuse to respond to the sandblasting issue.

According to the Clean Clothes Campaign, inaction on sandblasting could have serious ramifications for the lives of workers and their families. In Turkey alone, at least 45 sandblasting operators have died as a result of the practise in recent years. Thousands more workers remain at serious risk. A recent report by the Swedish Fair Trade Centre found that sandblasting operations also take place in Bangladesh, China, Pakistan, Italy, Syria, Indonesia and countries in Northern Africa.

In early February Oxfam Australia wrote to Australian retailer, The Just Group, informing them about the dangers of sandblasting and asking them to discontinue sandblasting in the manufacture of their own denim products. So far, The Just Group has failed to respond adequately to this urgent issue, however they have finally agreed to meet Oxfam in April.