During summer 2011 the Cambodian garment industry has faced several concerning incidents of mass faintings among workers and also H&M´s suppliers M&V International Manufacturing Ltd. and Ghim Li Pte. Ltd. have been affected. Since the workers’ wellbeing is of importance to us and as a buyer H&M takes these incidents very seriously. Hence, we took immediate action and hired an external expert, Sumerra, to identify the root causes and solutions. The investigation was carried out during September 2011.
Both suppliers have now received the report and have been asked to get back to us with an action plan according to the recommendations that emerged in the report. The action plan will include a clear audit system and target based on the recommendations in the report as well as a time frame for follow-up. H&M supports both suppliers in the development of the action plan and will continuously follow up on it until all actions are carried out.
Capacity building in our supplier´s factories is very important and it is of high priority to ensure workers’ health, wellbeing and safety. The report highlights that the workers wellbeing needs to be addressed in a wider context and takes their working environment as well as everyday life into account. Accordingly, the root cause to the majority of the massfaintings were related to a lack of formalized grievance system and feedback mechanism as well as overtime, that might cause psychological effects for the individual. It is very important to note that the individual is not to blame for the psychological effects. The fact that an illness has a psychological component does not imply that the experienced symptoms are imaginary.
Since 2005 H&M is supporting the Better Factories Cambodia Programme (BFC), with the goal to improve working conditions at the garment factories in Cambodia. BFC monitors the working conditions in all exporting garment factories in Cambodia and has, since the start, contributed to significantly improved compliance. The project is driven by the UN body ILO (International Labour Organization).
H&M is rarely the only buyer at any factory and the workers can produce goods for a number of different buyers. Hence, collaboration between various actors is needed to contribute to a positive development throughout the entire industry. We have been in discussion with Better Work (organization that evolved out of Better Factories Cambodia) on how the industry can take a holistic approach to improve the workers well-being. These issues will be discussed with Better Work as well as other members of Better Work at a global brand meeting in San Francisco coming October.
To promote this dialogue with all relevant stakeholders and in line with our commitment to transparency, we disclose the entire investigation report issued by the external expert team of Sumerra.