Usually you'd find this page full of bold statements about ethics and corporate responsibility, filled with jargon and fancy words that sound great, but can leave you wondering whether there's truth behind it or if it's just all smoke and mirrors.
So instead of writing fluffy mumbo jumbo, I want to share with you my first-hand experiences of my visit to China in January 2019. We had planned to visit again in March 2020, but Covid-19 had other plans. We are planning a virtual 'tour' of our factories, to keep them accountable and continue building our trusting relationships in this new world.
I currently work with two factories and have built strong relationships with both over the last 2 years. When I arrived at each factory, here's what I learned:
- There was music playing! The workers were busily doing their thing, but didn't seem stressed or unhappy - quite the opposite in fact. It was really great to see how relaxed their work environment was.
- They work a minimum of 8 hours per day, with the option of voluntary overtime if they're keen to earn a few extra dollars that pay check. The work day starts later in China, around 9-10am and they usually finish up at 7pm.
- Workers take 2 breaks per day, a 1-1.5 hour lunch break and 30 minute supper break. At each break, they are provided with food and drink.
- They work Monday - Friday, with optional work on Saturdays. Sundays the factories close for a day of rest.
- The workers are paid an average 3-times higher than the minimum monthly wage for their province.
- The big bosses were genuinely kind and interacted with the workers without fear or contempt. They had nothing to prove (or hide) and showed us every facet of the manufacturing process and allowed us to ask as many questions as we needed.
- The factory conditions blew me away (in the best possible way). They were exceptionally clean, spacious and well set out.
- The equipment and machines were modern (some of the machines blew my mind!) and were skilfully operated by the workers.
- There was an even mix of male to female workers and a broad age range of workers - obviously no children! But there were mature-aged workers also getting the opportunity to work and earn which was really positive to see.
- It was lovely to hear some workers had been loyally working with the factory for years. In my eyes, that's a great indication of their working conditions and pay. And no, there most definitely wasn't any form of bonded or forced labour.
- They were very accepting of my wishes to minimise plastic consumption. We're now working together to find ways to lessen Moolk's plastic use even further - watch this space!
I make a lot of business decisions based on 'gut feeling'. You know, that deep-seated feeling inside your soul that tells you whether you're making the right decision (or not). And based on the above, I am extremely confident to continue building relationships with my factories knowing they're operating in an ethical way.
This isn't the end though. I'll be making regular trips to China to inspect/reinspect and forever be asking questions to ensure Moolk is always adhering to ethical AND environmental standards.
Here's the official mumbo jumbo for reference (but is better recapped above :)
We take our ethical and social responsibilities seriously and are committed to ensuring that our factory adheres to our legal, moral and ethical standards by upholding human rights and fair working conditions as listed below:
- That employment be freely chosen, not forced, bonded or resulting in involuntary prison labour;
- That working conditions are safe and hygienic;
- That child labour will not be permitted;
- That living wages should be paid;
- That working hours are not excessive;
- That discrimination should never be permitted or tolerated;
- That regular employment is provided;
- That harsh or inhumane treatment should not be allowed; and
- Commitment to compliance with all applicable environmental laws and regulations, and a commitment to environmental efficiency.
These practices are all aligned with the International Labour Organisation’s conventions in relation to ethical trade and the Ethical Trade Initiative base code.
If we find any evidence of unethical or non-compliance to these minimum standards, we will take action by ceasing to place future orders until they prove their standards meet the required levels. If they fail to prove this, then we will immediately cease supply.