Rip Curl North Korea: Using women in slave labour with tags that claim “Made in China”
Australia’s most popular surf clothing company is under the microscope for incessantly sourcing out the cheapest garment manufacturers available for production of apparel. This time they are in North Korea, where thousands of workers who are mostly women that are enslaved in the industry and routinely exploited, have been found to have assembled the Winter 2015 Mountain-wear range. These items were falsely labelled with “Made in China”.
Oxfam Australia’s CEO Dr Helen Szoke said that the revelations raised serious questions about Rip Curl’s standards.
“Rip Curl has no excuse for being unaware of what is happening. Companies are responsible for human rights abuses within their businesses – not only morally but also within international human rights frameworks,” -Dr Szoke.
‘Textile, Clothing and Footwear Union national secretary Michele O’Neil said the revelation that Rip Curl’s clothing had been made in North Korea was a “shocking indictment on that company and its policies”. Ms O’Neil said she feared it was not an isolated case of a big-name brand failing to keep track of its supply chain and backed Oxfam’s calls for Rip Curl to overhaul its garment sourcing practices. “It’s based solely on an endless search to find the cheapest possible labour,” she said. Ms O’Neil said the only reason Rip Curl’s Chinese manufacturer would have contracted out the work to North Korea was because workers in that country were even cheaper because they had lower pay rates and worse health and safety conditions than those in China.’
Personally, I’m upset to learn this information and I will no longer support this company by purchasing any item with the name “Rip Curl”. I am an avid outdoors person and would prefer to wear the appropriate apparel for whatever activity I’m doing, but I want to feel good about what I’m wearing too. Knowledge is power, and the more conscious I am about the production of the garments I choose to wear (or not), the better I feel about knowing that I am making the right choice to help others. I am a part of the change little by little. Sometimes it feels like there’s nothing I can do to help these person’s who are enslaved in the garment industry, but that is entirely false.
The truth is, every decision a person weighs to purchase a particular item is use of personal purchasing power that cannot be taken away. Your decisions are the most powerful and valuable thing on the market. There is power and protection in every decision to make a purchase, it’s up to you!