Top Stories

August 11, 2020

Human Rights

Garment workers seen losing up to $5.8 bln in wages during coronavirus

Garment workers supplying global fashion brands have been underpaid or not paid at all during the coronavirus crisis, with lost wages potentially amounting to nearly $6 billion, researchers have said. With the pandemic leading to store closures and falling sales, many retailers cancelled orders or demanded discounts from suppliers, jeopardising the livelihoods of tens of millions of workers in the sector. Pressure group Clean Clothes Campaign said garment workers in South and Southeast Asia, many already surviving on “poverty pay”, had only received three-fifths of their regular income on average from March to May. In some regions of India, workers received less than half their income, according to the group’s report “Un(der)paid in the pandemic“. The pressure group said clothing companies had long profited from low wages in countries with lax labour laws. “We are asking brands individually to make a public commitment to avoid a situation in which everyone in a supply chain has responsibility, but in practice nobody assumes responsibility,” said Clean Clothes campaigner Christie Miedema. (Thomas Reuters Foundation)


Oil spill threatens ecological disaster as Mauritius declares emergency

Fuel spilling from a Japanese bulk carrier that ran aground on a reef in Mauritius two weeks ago is creating an ecological disaster, endangering corals, fish and other marine life around the Indian Ocean island, officials and environmentalists say. The MV Wakashio, owned by the Nagashiki Shipping Company, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. The Mauritian government said fuel was leaking from a crack in the vessel’s hull and Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth declared a state of environmental emergency, pleading for international help. Environmental group Greenpeace said the spill was to likely to be one of the most terrible ecological crises that Mauritius has ever seen. Satellite images released showed a slick spreading out into the turquoise waters surrounding the stricken vessel. Some fuel has washed ashore. France was sending specialist teams and equipment to help Mauritius deal with the spill, French President Emmanuel Macron said. (Reuters)

Diversity & Inclusion

Big U.S. companies form group to boost hiring of minorities in New York

Leaders from major U.S. companies, including banks and tech giants, have formed a group aimed at increasing the hiring of individuals from minority communities in New York. The New York Jobs CEO Council, which counts chief executives from 27 firms among its members, aims to hire 100,000 people from low-income Black, Latino and Asian communities by 2030. Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JPMorgan Chase & Co, IBM CEO Arvind Krishna and Accenture CEO Julie Sweet will co-chair the group. Other companies in the group include Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Goldman Sachs, according to a press statement. U.S. companies have been under increasing pressure to do more to provide minority groups with access to opportunities in the wake of anti-racism protests sparked by the death of a 46-year-old African-American man, George Floyd. Floyd died in May after a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. (Reuters)

Climate Change

HelloFresh to offset entire carbon footprint

Meal kit provider HelloFresh has announced its intention to offset 100 percent of carbon emissions from internal operations and offices, corporate travel and deliveries. HelloFresh will partner with a range of organisations to offset its carbon impact, working with German firm Planetly to support European conversation projects, Terrapass in the US and the Woodland Carbon Code in the UK. The company estimates that 40,000 metric tonnes of carbon will be offset in Europe in 2020, with a further 50,000 tonnes offset in the US. Offsets will be sourced through CCBS or Gold Standard and partner organisations include the Yarra Yarra Reforestation in Australia and the Farm Biomass Project in Canada. The decision to offset could cause some controversy, with many green groups claiming that it enables a “business as usual”. HelloFresh has taken steps to reduce its global carbon footprint, however, for instance reducing the number of kilometres travelled weekly by 15 percent through route optimisation software and adopting meal kit methods that assist in the overall effort to reduce food waste. (edie)


Diageo toasts halving of greenhouse gas emissions

Diageo has published a review of its sustainability performance over the past five years, confirming it met a goal to halve greenhouse gas emissions from its operations against 2007 levels, but narrowly missed targets relating to wastewater, water efficiency, and packaging. The global drinks giant – which produces a host of leading brands including Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff and Guinness – said it remained on track to meet long term emissions targets that have been set in line with the principles of the Science based targets initiative (SBTi). A series of investments in energy efficiency measures and renewable energy capacity meant overall greenhouse gas emissions from the company’s direct operations have fallen by 509,000 metric tonnes since 2007, according to the report, delivering on Diageo’s commitment to reduce absolute emissions by 50 percent. The company is now set to soon announce a new set of targets in support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals for the “critical decade” through to 2030. (Business Green)