Theater of Cruelty

Fairtrade ensures decent conditions

By Ragnhild Hammer, Fairtrade CEO Max Havelaar


[trade] On Friday 1 December, Ny Tid will cover the fashion industry and how to improve conditions for those who work in the textile industry. Fairtrade is one of the measures.

Fairtrade is an international and independent branding scheme that gives small producers and workers in developing countries better pay and working conditions. In 2005, consumers in more than 20 countries purchased Fairtrade-branded products for € 1.1 billion. About five million people in Africa, Latin America and Asia get a better life because they get to sell their products at a higher price. Since 1986, Fairtrade has drawn up international standards and criteria for trade to secure producers a price that will cover production costs, secure long-term contracts and provide a living wage. Furthermore, the workers are ensured decent pay and working conditions.

So far, the Fairtrade system has created standards and criteria for commodity-based products such as. coffee, tea, bananas, sugar and cocoa. Vigorous sales development of Fairtrade branded products in England, Switzerland and France has led to demands for new branded products, and especially clothing. Fairtrade has chosen to start by setting standards for cotton production, which gives the cotton farmer a better and safer income for himself and his family. The factories that process the Fairtrade-labeled cotton must either comply with Fairtrade's requirements for what their Code of Conduct should contain, be SA8000 approved or have ratified the ILO conventions. This means that the cotton is not likely to end up in a sweatshop.

In a comment on 8 December, Ny Tid's debate editor Kaare M. Bilden asked the undersigned «whether it is a good strategy to certify only parts of the production, when consumers relate to whole products, and whether there is no danger that this can lead to an ethics logo jungle? ” My answer is that Fairtrade has taken the challenge from consumers and taken the first step. The strategy further is to get standards and criteria that secure the rest of the production. Fairtrade has invited the parties involved to a broad collaboration to achieve the best possible result. Significant resources and extensive collaboration with the textile industry, retailers and other existing certification bodies are required. The goal is to achieve a comprehensive certification that is easy for consumers to relate to. It is good that Ny Tid and Kaare M. The picture is impatient! Many must show their impatience and demand and buy goods that are produced under worthy conditions. ■

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