Dhyana van der Pols – adviser for the garment industry – in Dutch talk show

Dhyana van der Pols – adviser for the garment industry – in Dutch talk show


good evening! good evening, ladies and
gentlemen! in Bangladesh more than
300 people were killed when a garment factory
collapsed yesterday and western retailers are
buying their stock there we will talk about this
with Dhyana van der Pols both for Foreign Affairs
and for the industry you visit garment factories
all over the world for which retailers,
we are acquainted with garment was being manufactured
in that building? I would almost say:
for whom not? Bangladesh is the second
largest exporter to Europe after China 12 billion a year particularly
the mid and low segment which we find here
throughout Europe so we actually talk
about all the big names about H&M, Zara, Mango but also the Americans:
JCPennie, SIR, Kmart so the complete
mid and low segment do you think someone here in
the studio is wearing something that has been manufactured
in that building in Bangladesh? maybe not that specific building
but certainly from Bangladesh or from factories
with similar working conditions you advise both the industry
and the government about working conditions
in developing countries countries where
garment factories flourish have you been in Bangladesh? yes, I have been working
for more then 7 years both in Pakistan
and in Bangladesh at this moment I do have
open orders there but also I operate in Vietnam North Africa, Peru,
Bolivia, Colombia 150 days a year I work
at the factory what are you doing there?
when you visit these places? last year I have been visiting
400 factories dependent of the programm
there is an audit so an evaluation of a factory so you walk around and
investigate working conditions? well, first I take a so called
a zero measurement a status quo session so I check all departments
of a factory but the biggest work
comes after that which is all paper works all dossiers must be checked who are on the payroll? how much wages do they get? are the wages enough to survive? but do you also check
cracks in the walls ? exactely!
we check the construction how old is the building? how is the building
being burdened? what has happened in Bangladesh
was literally a system overload also the infrastructure so you were not surprised after
the collapse in Bangladesh? well, in the past,
in Cairo, Egypt they also used to build illegal
storeys on apartment blocks and we have seen there
the same kind of dramatic and
heartbreaking situations shall we have a look
at Bangladesh? you already have told us
in the beginning of the program probably many of our clothing
comes from Bangladesh anyway and probably someone
at this very table is wearing something that has been manufactured
in a factory like that one there do you know
where your suit comes from? the jacket is a little older
and comes probably from China the pants come from Ukrain and our new uniform
with the yellow stripe that will be produced in Poland Eastern Europe! this is what we call workwear or technical workwear
like uniforms which are difficult to assemble
and very labor-intensive mainly are manufactured
in Eastern Europe also the new uniforms for KLM are being manufactured
in Macedonia gentlemen, let’s evaluate
for a moment you look exactely like a young socialist
should look like and you look like
a young liberal but you don’t wear a necktie! no, but I do wear red trousers! but we can’t see my trousers now where do your trousers
come from? no idea.. brand? eh..
No idea either, actually.. It comes from The Sting. probably Bangladesh right! jacket? eh., just a small shop I even think
it doesn’ t have a real name I mean it is not
a retail corporation or so doesn’t it even have a label? eh.. probably not.. I am a student, so.. what about the hooded sweater,
what is it? yes, that is from H&M
and my trousers are from WE Bangladesh? yes! Without any doubt! yes, these are typical products
from that country the reason for
Bangladesh’s popularity is that you can produce there
knitwear,like stretch tops but also chinos, like jeans which is interesting
for retailers because you can import
a range of product groups from a single country that not only means
a purchasing advantage but also Bangladesh has access
to duty-free European markets maybe we could try and explain how Dutch government relates
to what is being sold in H&M because H&M is a great store where you can buy gorgeous
clothes for only EUR 3,00 so for EUR 3,00 you can buy
a t-shirt with buttons how is that possible? because secretely we should know
that that has been manufactured by 6-year-olds
with just one leg that never have seen sunlight
in there lives well, I think
you are exaggerating a bit like Zara and Mango,
H&M’s policy is direct retail that means that they cut out
fashion agents and distributors so they can give discount
to their customers that’s why we can buy
a jeans for EUR 8,00 which has probably
left the factory for $5,50 for regular retailers and
smaller fashion brands you have to multiply
such a product by 6 then your item of $5,50 has to
be sold for EUR 29,95 which might be
a more realistic price point but with all echelons in between it is heartbreaking
what has happened here we had a similar situation with
the Tazreen factory in November I work a lot for CBI,
an agency for Foreign Affairs we help small and medium-sized
enterprises in these countries with sustainable
export conditions and obtaining a good position
on the European markets eh. can we get back to what
you call heartbreaking images? what if we don’t want
that a factory collapses so we can buy
cheap trousers why can’t we stimulate a change
of working conditions, there? and that we might pay a little
bit more for a pair of trousers globally and in Europe
this lobby has been started up especially The Netherlands
are anticipating in the field of CSR,
Corporate Social Responsibility may I interrupt you again? you just told us
that many of our clothes are being manufactured
in Bangladesh and still that garment factory
collapses in this sector
there is no supervisor so it’s a self-regulating sector that means that the impulse
to change working conditions often is generated
by the market itself we call that crowdsourcing
or crowdfunding in The Netherlands
we know many initiatives Clean Clothes Campaign,
Solidaridad, Made By but why don’t the big retailers
abide by the rules? they certainly do so! but you just told us that are
clothes are made in Bangladesh but a factory collapses because they illegally build
8 storeys on the first floor all purchasing consortia in the
Netherlands have a strict policy most of our Dutch retailers
work with the BSCI principle The Business Social
Compliance Initiative in which we assume that social standards
minimally will be realized in The Netherlands we use the
Due Dilligence Guide by OESO so we follow OESO’s procedures
in sustainable manufacturing the reason why this is happening
in Bangladesh is because the sector is rather
diffuse and lagging behind but does that mean that H&M and
Zara here in the Netherlands where they sell
fashionable items for low prices that we don’t have to worry for they organize and controll
their business so well? worldwide H&M is situated
in 800 locations the main reason for this kind
of catastrophes is the structure of the sector this not only happens
in Bangladesh this happens also in Pakistan
and even in North Africa is that orders are distributed
by buying houses from Hongkong or elsewhere and eventually a third party
will place the order H&M pays more than
3600 audit visits a year so every factory that is working
for H&M gets 3,6 visits a year recently they have produced
a film to be seen by 4 million factory
workers before the end of 2013 it will be about fire safety so there are a lot
of initiatives but this has to do with
abuses in the country itself in Bangladesh they have
a very large informal economy 66 percent of the total export
value is in the apparel economy but could it help when Dutch
retailers make a fist and agree not to have their
products manufactured there absolutely! a market generated pool also
was successful in other sectors if you look at the sector
industrial design they work with
cradle to cradle design we also know the denim campaigns
for cleaner production of denim denim is used for
jeans manufacturing so there are a lot
of initiatives but if the industry
would withdraw from Bangladesh that would be a disaster
for employment in Bangladesh yes, garment is the biggest
employment sector there what happens then is that
the problem will be transferred to Vietnam, Cambodia or Laos and you still are saying
that they should do that? No, I think
you misunderstood me European retailers in general should more anticipate
on existing infrastructures for instance, this specific
factory had been warned by BGMEA in the morning
that nobody should go to work a bank and 3 other companies
from the same building did not show up for work
that morning so their employees
are all still alive BGMEA is the apex trade body
in Bangladesh and still their advice
has been ignored and that has to do with
ownership and money we do distribute orders
in these countries but actually we cannot control
these factories financially so that means that vendors
distribute orders from H&M we don’t pay their personnel
in this case mr. Rana does that he is on the run now to have more influence
on this structure we could intensify auditing
and monitoring our orders but we already do this this case is about excessive
overburdening infrastructure unfortunately tomorrow
this can happen again finally I would like
to get back to the consumers we learned from the bank crises that when getting 5% interest
actually means taking risks can we also say that when buying
two t-shirts for EUR 5,00 that you should know that these
t-shirts are not properly made? no!
you certainly cannot say that I certainly do not want to
upset customers that would not be fair Dutch retailers have
a strict and conscious policy and they are very committed these abuses derive from
infrastructural problems and the lack of supervision

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