Rip Curl manufacturing surf wear in North Korea
Responding to Fairfax Media’s investigation, which today revealed Rip Curl manufactured clothes in the Democratic People’s Republic (DPR) of Korea, Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Dr Helen Szoke said:
Australians would be shocked to hear that an iconic Australian brand with roots on the surf coast of Victoria has been manufacturing its surf wear in North Korea.
Australians care about where their clothes are made and how – we have seen this time and time again by responses to events such as the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh in 2013, which killed more than 1,100 workers and injured 2,500 more.
Rip Curl has no excuse for not tracking clothing produced within its own supplier factories.
As one of the globe’s biggest surf brands, Rip Curl has put a lot into the promotion of its image, but how much does it care about the people, the majority of whom are poor women, who make its products?
Companies are responsible for human rights abuses within their businesses – not only morally but also within United Nations guidelines on the responsibilities of businesses when it comes to human rights
Other Australian brands, including Kmart, Target and Coles, have taken bold steps towards transparency by not only knowing, but also publishing, the exact names and locations of supplier factories for all to see.
Companies such as Cotton On and Forever New are moving in this direction and it’s high time that Rip Curl and other surf brands caught up with the pack.
It is also very concerning that in this instance, clothing has been made in a country that isn’t a signatory to core International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions, including on the right to freedom of association and to collectively bargain.
Rip Curl needs to show the Australian public it is serious about preventing this from happening again through a dramatic overhaul of its checks and balances. It should start by publishing its policies and a list of the factories where its products are made.
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