On 7 February, 2023, more than 100 participants from IndustriALL members in the textile and garment sector gathered online from 2-3 February for the first world conference since 2016. Discussions focused on advancing workers’ rights, building union strength, confronting global capital and sustainable industrial policy, as well as women in the sector.
IndustriALL general secretary Atle Høie said:
“We are stepping up our campaign for comprehensive economic sanctions against Myanmar and together with brands we are working hard to exit the country responsibly and protect workers at the same time.”
Discussions focused on strong support for organising campaigns, in particular the use of global framework agreements to protect workers’ rights to form unions and bargain collectively. The Migrant Resource Centre in Mauritius provided an update on the mobile app Just Good Work Mauritius. Developed last year in collaboration with IndustriALL, Anti Slavery International and online clothing brand ASOS, the app provides information and education on labour rights. Migrant workers are informed about their rights and can report cases of abuse. Information is available in Bangladeshi, English and Malagasy.
Campaigns for safe factories are at the centre of the industry and in December 2022 the International Agreement was extended to Pakistan. Associates from the MENA region added that a regional campaign on safe factories has been launched and called for the extension of the International Agreement to the region.
Affiliates pledged support for trade union networks in multinational manufacturers. Participants from Bangladesh spoke about the benefits of being part of the Coats global trade union network and how the network supports the reduction of contract work, helps to ensure wages are above the national minimum and promotes industrial relations.
Jane Pillinger, in her report ‘Risks of gender-based violence and harassment: trade union interventions in the mining, garment and electronics sectors’, highlighted the risks faced by women in the garment sector, including precarious employment, low wages, gender inequalities and discrimination, and the dangers of travelling to and from work. To combat these risks, women need to be strongly involved in leadership positions to raise awareness, and collective labour agreements need to include GBV-related clauses and safe grievance systems for women.
Indonesia and MENA Women’s networks showcased the Zero Tolerance Campaign. Unions and employers in the H&M, Nike and Adidas supply chains participated in a social dialogue conference for a joint commitment signed by ten unions and companies. Through the policy, unions and employers will develop strategies on how to ensure that reported cases of sexual harassment are not left unresolved. The policy will be integrated into collective agreements and ensure safe workplaces, as well as raise awareness of zero tolerance for violence and sexual harassment.
A four-year sectoral action plan was discussed and approved. The action plan on sectoral collective bargaining focuses on promoting sectoral bargaining to reduce inequality, raise wages and conditions and prevent low standards from being used to give companies a competitive advantage. The South African Clothing and Textile Workers Union (SACTWU) referred to collective bargaining processes, stating that bargaining is authorised by members and that authorisation is sought from members prior to negotiations. SACTWU highlighted the Covid-19 agreement where workers received full wages during a severe lockout, secured through negotiations between unions and employers.
Christina Hajagos-Clausen, IndustriALL textile director, said:
“Collective action, the hallmark and strength of the international labour movement, has given us the ability and tools to transform the global supply chain. We must make sure that the lives of our members improve. IndustriALL is committed to strengthening a sectoral solution by pressurising and securing commitments from global brands, suppliers and governments in our fight for decent work. We will continue to campaign for an industrial relations system that changes the balance of power in the supply chain.”
Participants elected four co-chairs for the sector. The co-chairs will be two men and two women, two from production countries and two from consumer/brand countries.
Source: IndustriALL Global