Talking with The Just Group
Oxfam Australia is asking The Just Group to take steps to ensure that its supply chain is more transparent and that rights and safety of workers is upheld.
We’ve written back to the Just Group to outline why we think their answers don’t measure up. We have highlighted the lack of transparency, outlined why they need to join the Accord and informed them of our concerns about their auditing and compliance regime. We also again invited the Just Group to meet with us to discuss these very important supply chain issues. We’ll let you know if they agree to meet.
The Just Group have responded to our April 2015 letter.
Unfortunately we don’t think that Just Group’s response answers the questions that we put to them.
We are in the process of writing back to the Just Group.
Oxfam is still calling on The Just Group to join more than 190 companies globally who have signed onto the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Accord almost two years after we raised factory safety in Bangladesh with The Just Group.
Oxfam has again written to The Just Group asking them to sign onto the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Accord but received no response.
More than a year after raising factory safety in Bangladesh with The Just Group – Oxfam is still asking the company to join more than 160 companies globally who have signed onto the best practice Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Accord.
Following the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in Dhaka which killed over 1100 Bangladeshi workers, Oxfam called on The Just Group and other major Australian garment companies to ensure safety in the Bangladesh supply chain. Oxfam asked The Just Group to immediately release the details and locations of their suppliers in Bangladesh, to sign and adopt the legally binding Bangladesh Fire and Safety accord and to uphold their responsibilities under the UN Framework for Business and Human Rights.
Read Oxfam Australia’s open letter urging Australian garment companies to ensure safety in Bangladeshi suppliers.
On September 23 2011, after seven months of engagement with the company on this issue, The Just Group announced a ban on purchasing sandblasted denim. In a statement on their website, the company committed to sell out all remaining stock and not place any further orders for sandblasted jeans. Oxfam is now asking The Just Group to implement the other steps included in the ban, particularly to ensure that workers who were exposed to sandblasting receive medical checks. Oxfam also recommends that all sandblasting workers in The Just Group supply chain who could lose their jobs with the banning of this practice are prioritised for rehiring and receive retraining if necessary.
In April and June 2011 Oxfam Australia met with The Just Group to urge them to immediately implement a ban on the use of the life-endangering technique of denim sandblasting. Oxfam Australia also delivered hundreds of letters from members of the public who were concerned for the welfare of workers making products for The Just Group. The Just Group said that it would give further consideration to a ban on sandblasting, but the company was unwilling to commit to a ban or issue a public statement on their sandblasting policy. The Just Group was unable to share evidence on the extent to which sandblasting has been used in the manufacture of its denim products. The Just Group has also refused to share the names of its supplier factories involved in denim production.
Oxfam Australia wrote to The Just Group to share concerns about the issue of sandblasting. It had come to Oxfam Australia’s attention that a number of The Just Group brands sell denim clothing. Some of these products were described on brand websites (including Just Jeans and Jay Jays) as ‘sandblast’ denim. Oxfam Australia provided The Just Group with evidence about the dangers of sandblasting. The technique puts denim workers at serious risk of contracting silicosis, which is a potentially fatal disease. Oxfam Australia requested that The Just Group to share information about the manufacture of its denim products and urged the company to adopt a complete ban on the sandblasting throughout its supply chain. The Just Group did not respond to these requests but eventually agreed to discuss the sandblasting issue at a meeting in April.
Oxfam Australia wrote to Chairman Mr. Solomon Lew and Executive Director Ms Glenys Shearer regarding ongoing concerns about a lack of transparency and independent auditing practices across The Just Group supply chain.
We asked The Just Group to uphold its earlier commitment to the Ethical Clothing Australia code by obtaining full accreditation for its Australian made garments. We urged them to take steps to improve transparency and auditing practices across its overseas suppliers, and suggested they work together with their overseas agent, Li & Fung, to develop better transparency and reporting mechanisms.
We also asked The Just Group to implement a living wage across all of its suppliers. We are waiting for a response.
Our letter included more than 700 separate letters from supporters who asked that the Just Group’s products be made under decent, humane conditions. One such supporter, Ms Perri Jewell, wrote:
“I am shocked and disappointed that a few days after applying for a Just Group retail position I happened upon an article on the conditions in which your labor workers are employed. I have heard of large multi-national companies such as Nike and Coca-Cola abusing human rights but expected better from a well reputed Australian based company. On your website you state “Our goal is to become an envied spectacular employer.” And I see no reason why I as a potential employee would be given separate privileges to those employees working in Asia, Latin America and other parts of the majority world.”
Oxfam Australia met with The Just Group Managing Director Mr Jason Murray; and Public Relations Representative Mr Michael Clark; to discuss labour rights issues throughout The Just Group supply chain. We urged The Just Group to obtain Ethical Clothing Australia accreditation and guarantee award wages and decent conditions for workers making products in Australia. The Just Group indicated that it would consider gaining accreditation in the near future.
We discussed the importance of sound transparency, auditing and compliance mechanisms to protect the rights of workers in The Just Group’s overseas suppliers. We shared concerns about the integrity of compliance investigations by their major sourcing agent, Li & Fung. We requested that The Just Group share information about its suppliers and any auditing reports. Further, we suggested that The Just Group ask Li & Fung to also work towards more credible and transparent reporting systems.