7/29/2020 A Close Look at a Fashion Supply Chain Is Not Pretty - The New York Times “We try our utmost to carry out extensive due diligence and audits but with such a global chain it can be a struggle,” said Joy Roeterdink, the corporate social responsibility manager at Suitsupply. “When there is an issue, we don’t believe in cutting relationships with factories. That doesn’t help the workers. It is better for everyone to invest in fixing the problem.” None of the other brands said anything on the record beyond a statement from the American Apparel and Footwear Association, an industry lobbying group that spoke on behalf of the American brands involved. The Pen Apparel factory. Photo Illustration by The New York Times; Google Street View The Investigation Over 18 months, Transparentem gathered evidence in Malaysia from hundreds of the 2,600 migrant workers employed by TAL. Researchers found that many had paid substantial recruitment fees and related costs like visas and health checks in order to secure their jobs before they left their home countries, a common industry practice. Migrant workers from Bangladesh, for example, paid recruitment agents in their home country an average of $2,450 to work in the TAL factories in Malaysia. Once they arrived, they would also pay a second set of fees, which were effectively TAL’s recruitment costs. TAL company policy was to front the cost of these fees, which were in practice considered “factory loans,” Transparentem said, that workers gradually repaid through paycheck deductions. But in Bangladesh, some were charged additional recruitment fees directly by agents, according to Transparentem. They were then threatened by those agents and forced to say, on film, they were not being exploited, at the risk of losing their jobs. For others, the total fees were so high they had used their life savings, sold family land or taken out loans with high interest rates for the chance of a more lucrative livelihood abroad. “We have come here to work and save up some money,” one Pen Apparel worker, whose identity was not disclosed to prevent retaliation, told Transparentem. “But even after working very hard we are not able to save any money. It is hard to even earn back the money we invested.” A similar tale was told by workers at Imperial Garments. Many said they had not learned about the TAL factory loans that would be deducted from their salaries until after they had already paid the agents’ fees, according to Transparentem, and the result was that they were being paid half of what they were promised. Transparentem also said it recorded accounts of deception, intimidation and unsafe living conditions from workers, all of which are listed among the 11 indicators of forced labor outlined by the International Labor Organization. After production volumes fell to 30 percent of capacity, TAL had announced in April that Pen Apparel would close at the end of July, while Imperial Garments would close at the end of 2020. Against a backdrop of tensions in Malaysia over the country’s harsh treatment of migrant workers during lockdown, many workers were left in a state of despair. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/28/style/malaysia-forced-labor-garment-workers.html 2/4

Select target paragraph3