A lot of brands claim they don’t use sweatshop or child labour in the production of their footwear, clothing or sporting goods. They might refer to their ‘Codes of Conduct’ or claim that they have visited the factory and everything was fine. The problem is ‘Codes of Conduct’ are often ignored and visits to factories are often ‘guided’. We have met people from the fashion industry who have visited factories in Asia and have reported being shocked by what they saw when they strayed from the guided tours.
At Etiko we also visit our suppliers. However, we prefer it if a 3rd party can independently verify any claims that we make. As a result we only work with producers who are either certified Fairtrade or Non-Sweatshop.
The one exception to this rule are the Worker Owned Co-operatives that we work with. These Co-ops are often under-resourced and don’t have the funds to pay for audits. However, given that Worker Co-operatives are a potent tool for economic and social reform we believe that they deserve our support.
1. Fairtrade – (FLO Certification)
The manufacturers of our sneakers and clothing are Fairtrade manufacturers. As a result they need to abide by Fairtrade Label Organisation’s “Standards for Hired Labour” the most comprehensive set of standards in the world designed to protect the rights of workers.
Products that carry a Fairtrade label have been certified that their manufacturing process meets certain social, economic and environmental standards. The manufacturer of the Etiko range has agreed to meet the expectations of the Fairtrade Labelling Organization (FLO) and to co-operate fully with their monitoring teams when they visit.
The price Etiko pays for our gear includes a fair-trade premium of 15%. This premium is used for improvement of the socio-economic situation of the farmers (who supply the cotton), the workers (who make our gear), their families and communities. As required by FLO the Fairtrade premium funds are administered in a transparent and democratic manner.
Farmers, workers and management decide jointly on the use of the premium. For us sneaker producers the priority to date has been to fund a health care scheme for all those involved in ball and sneaker manufacturing AND their families - an absolute first for this type of production.
Other priorities for the steering committee have included the funding of a pre-school and after-school programs as well as the funding of a Fair Price Shop which is run by the workers which has helped reduce the cost of food staples such as rice, ghee (cooking butter) and legumes by up to 40%.
In the past our fairtrade premiums have also funded a micro credit program. This provided workers and their families with the opportunity to reduce their dependency on (seasonal) orders for footballs, and at the same time added to the growth of the village economy. Up to 2011 these funds were used to help fund a number of small retail outlets, a welding workshop and laundromat as well as animal stock and irrigation pumps for the fields.
3. GOTS - Global Organic Textile Standard
All our products (footwear, clothing and underwear) are certified organic by Control Union (formerly Skal) of Holland under the international GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) program, also accredited by USDA's National Organic Program. Our cotton is grown, processed and low-impact dyed as per international organic standards. This simply means that our products adhere to strict organic standards for not only cotton growing, but also processing (e.g. pre-treatment, washing, bleaching, dyeing, waste treatment, finishing) to provide a completely environmental product
All our products....