29 June 2012
Working together - an update from our uniform supplier
We recently caught up with our clothing supplier, Mathias & Sons, and invited them to share an update on all they’ve been up to since we last heard from them.
Last year we launched a short film to show how we’re working with our clothing supplier – the film featured Jason, Managing Director at Mathias and Sons, and our very own Martin Simper, Senior Procurement Manager. Mathias supply all the workwear and PPE (personal protective equipment) that keeps Virgin Media staff safe and looking sharp. After a recent action plan meeting with Mathias, we thought we’d invite Jason to provide an update on what’s been happening since the film was made.
Over to Jason…
The Queen isn’t the only one celebrating a 60th Anniversary this year - Mathias is celebrating their 60th anniversary this year too, so keep the bunting out a little longer!
We’re a family business in the true sense of the word. Not only do I run the business along with my sister (we are the great grandchildren of the founder, George Mathias) but our approach is to treat our staff, supply chain, environment and community as one big family.
Back in 2008, Mathias started working with Virgin Media to audit the factories in which the garments that made up the Virgin Media uniform were manufactured.
The audits were carried out against the ETI Base Code whose vision is a world where all workers are free from exploitation and discrimination, and work in conditions of freedom, security and equity. The audits highlighted some areas that needed addressing at four of the factories. When issues were flagged, Mathias discussed the areas of non-compliance with Virgin Media and, rather than abandon the factories in which the garments were made (which inevitably wouldn’t have improved the staff’s welfare and would potentially have left them without work), an action plan was put in place, in collaboration with the factories, to bring them up to standard.
The factories were fully supportive and gave monthly updates of the corrective measures that they implemented. Evidence was shared with Virgin Media, and, after 9 months, when all of the non-compliances had been addressed, a follow up audit showed that each of the four factories was fully compliant with the ETI base code.
We’re really proud of this achievement – by working with the factories and Virgin Media, we’ve improved the welfare of each and every employee at all four factories.
But the good news doesn’t stop there. As a result of the audit, three of the factories progressed even further, becoming WRAP compliant. WRAP is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to the certification of lawful, humane and ethical manufacturing throughout the world, and is recognised throughout the clothing industry. This accreditation has allowed the factories to promote themselves better, pick up more business, and give their employees better, more long-term security. I’m chuffed to learn that our collaboration and partnership with Virgin Media has created positive benefits.
We are also busy taking part in some research alongside big names such as Oxfam, Royal Mail, ASDA's George, Leeds University and various other organisations, with the aim of increasing the lifecycle of corporate clothing. This is something that’s important to us and I know clients like Virgin Media will be interested in the outcome. However, we are currently under a strict Non Disclosure Agreement so can’t say too much, but watch this space!