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Industry – Garment

Power of the Voice: Perspectives from workers and buyers on social dialogue within the Bangladeshi garment sector

By | Bangladesh, Meta-analysis

Summary

An analysis concludes that social dialogue in Bangladesh is severely lacking and union and trade union representatives are seen as ineffective and untrustworthy. Because of this, workers in the textile industry face bad working conditions and inadequate pay. Further interviews revealed that Swedish companies contracting these factories have issues in their auditing processes and both the Swedish government and companies, alongside the ILO, have expressed interest in improving their dialogue with Bangladesh and strengthening social dialogue in the sector.

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Working conditions in the Bangladeshi garment sector: Social dialogue and compliance

By | Bangladesh, Case-study, Social dialogue

Abstract

The Bangladeshi garment sector is a leading garment manufacturing industry in the world that has been growing constantly during the last decades. Today the garment sector represent the 80% of the national export and counts USD 19 billions revenues; these numbers describe the sector as the most important manufacturing industry in Bangladesh. The numbers are also outstanding when it comes to number of workers employed, about five millions, and number of factories about five thousands of different sizes. The cheap labour cost attracted many international brands that chose the Bangladeshi factories to produce their products for the European and US markets that take up to the 60% and 20% of the total export. Despite the impressive numbers presented, the level of working conditions cannot be described with the same positive attitude. In fact to an increasing level of profit and continuous expansion, the new wealth has not been equally distributed and workers are employed in factories that too often can be categorised as sweatshops. The working conditions do not allow a decent level of living for garment workers that are exploited and forced to meet exhausting production quota for very little level of wage and very low social security. The situation is even more worsened by the very low power that unions have and their limited activities that cannot ensure a proper protection of workers’ rights. In this thesis project we used the literature to understand the current status quo of the working conditions in the garment sector and to identify the major factors that influence, impact and contribute in making the labour standards low. We used the interviewing methodology to gather facts and opinions of the current system and to organize the information and draw the status of the system. Afterwards we analysed the findings using cultural and economic indicators and the design of recommendation that could contribute in improving the working conditions’ level. Through the literature review and the interviews we defined the working conditions as: wage, job security, safety, discrimination, harassment and freedom of association; through the analysis we could acknowledge that workers are clearly exploited and the conditions are far to comply with the International Labour Standards defined by the international organizations. In the specific we analysed how two factors, compliance and social dialogue impact on the working conditions; the result shows the very low law enforcement level and little practice of a dialogue among government, business associations and workers, where the latter has almost no power; we can conclude that they significantly contribute to keep the working conditions low. Finally we provided recommendations to improve the working conditions and distribute the benefits among workers, employers and government, guaranteeing the sectorial long-term expansion and the significant benefits for global buyers.

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Recent Unrest in the RMG Sector of Bangladesh: Is this an Outcome of Poor Labour Practices?

By | Bangladesh, Case-study, Social dialogue

Abstract

The RMG sector of Bangladesh has experienced disputes and violent protest by the workers in recent times. This study explores the reasons for recent unrest in the garment sector. Since managers are mainly responsible for applying human resource practices, this paper has given particular attention to their views on recent attitude changes of workers. Results show that mutual understanding among workers and managers is absent in the RMG sector. This study also states that high-work load, poor behaviour of line managers, low skills and low wage rates are the notable reasons for high job turnover and social unrest. Poor relationship between workers and supervisors is the main source of conflict. This study finds that there is growing demand for work life balance among the workers of RMG sector.
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A Social Labor for Social Dialogue: A Proposal to Improve Working Conditions for Women in the Guatemalan Apparel Industry

By | Guatemala, Social dialogue

ABSTRACT

The only two independent unions in the Guatemalan apparel industry are suffering a decline in union membership and have become impotent against management bullying. Guatemalan women workers, who make up 80 percent of the apparel industry workforce, face entrenched impediments to their participation in organized labor, effectively preventing them from improving workplace conditions. The underlying reason is that the Guatemalan culture of machismo creates physical and social barriers that deny women the opportunity to develop and exercise their agency in the workplace or in their union. This presents a quandary for legal and social schemes that rely on union-inspired worker activism to improve workplace conditions but that fail to consider the gender context that stunts women’s participation in organized labor. This paper proposes the Trade Fair Label, a social labeling scheme based on worker-manager social
dialogue units, that addresses the shortcomings of oft-utilized corporate social responsibility schemes and that defies the impediments created by the culture of machismo.

 

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Joint Agreement on international responsible business conduct in the garment sector

By | Social dialogue

Making sustainability the norm rather than the exception: that’s the aim of the Dutch joint sector Agreements on Responsible Business Conduct. Companies, trade unions, civil society organisations and the Dutch government are working together to ensure respect for human rights throughout international supply chains. The Dutch trade union confederation CNV and its international department, CNV Internationaal, are actively participating in the establishment of these agreements.

Doing business in other countries entails risks. Companies can become involved – either directly or indirectly – in child labour, unsafe working conditions or pollution of the local environment. Responsible Business Conduct means it is essential for businesses to carefully map these risks in order to avoid or mitigate them. The term for this is “due diligence”, otherwise known as RBC risk management. The sector greements (also called covenants) on Responsible Business Conduct offer companies the opportunity to work together at sector level in conjunction with the government, trade unions and civil society organisations to tackle the risks to people and planet in their global value chains. The textile and garment industry was the first sector to formally join forces when its agreement was signed on 4 July 2016. The
banking sector followed suit on 28 October 2016. Other agreements are being prepared in a broad range of sectors.

 

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Vietnam country study: Labour Standards in the Garment Supply Chain

By | Case-study, Social dialogue

Introduction

The present country study on Vietnam, has been carried out in June 2016 for CNV Internationaal in the context of the
Partnership for Supply Chain Transformation. It is based on desk and original research on the current status of the industry structure, social dialogue, gender-based violence and living wage debates in the apparel industry in Vietnam for use in the first phase of this project.

The Fair Wear Foundation with its alliance partners CNV Internationaal and FNV Mondiaal has been selected by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs for a five year Strategic partnership for Garment Supply Chain Transformation starting 2016 as part of its “Dialogue and Dissent” policy framework. The primary goal of this initiative is to improve the lobbying and advocacy capacity of Trade Unions and labour related NGOs by enhancing their understanding of international RMG supply chains, access to critical information and know-how. Opportunities will be identified to develop pilot experiences in the supply chain resulting in good practices related to living wages, gender-based violence and freedom of association and collective bargaining, which will facilitate more effective social dialogue and monitoring of human rights compliance at the factory level and reinforce the value of NGOs and trade unions to all supply chain stakeholders.

 

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Pakistan country study 2016: Labour standards in the garment supply chain

By | Pakistan, Social dialogue

Executive summary

The present country study on Pakistan, has been carried out in December 2016 for CNV Internationaal in the context of the Partnership for Supply Chain Transformation. It is based on desk and original research on the current status of the industry structure, social dialogue, gender-based violence and living wage debates in the apparel industry in Vietnam for use in the first phase of this project. The Fair Wear Foundation with its alliance partners CNV Internationaal and FNV Mondiaal has been selected by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs for a five year Strategic partnership for Garment Supply Chain Transformation starting 2016 as part of its “Dialogue and Dissent” policy framework.

The primary goal of this initiative is to improve the lobbying and advocacy capacity of Trade Unions and labour related NGOs by enhancing their understanding of international Ready Made Garments supply chains, access to critical information and know-how. Opportunities will be identified to develop pilot experiences in the supply chain resulting in good practices related to living wages, gender-based violence and freedom of association and collective bargaining, which will facilitate more effective social dialogue and monitoring of human rights compliance at the factory level and reinforce the value of NGOs and trade unions to all supply chain stakeholders.
This report gives insight into the garment/ textile industry of Pakistan and its related industry, labour laws, industrial
relations and industry. The study was developed after a desk study and a subsequent visit to Pakistan to interview
stakeholders on issues related to the garment industry.

 

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Country study Cambodia 2016: Labour Standards in the Garment Supply Chain

By | Cambodia, Case-study, Social dialogue

The present country study on Cambodia, has been carried out for CNV Internationaal in the context of the Partnership for Supply Chain Transformation. is based on desk and original research on the current status of the industry structure, social dialogue, gender-based violence and living wage debates in the apparel industry in Cambodia for use in the first phase of this project.

The Fair Wear Foundation with its alliance partners CNV Internationaal and FNV Mondiaal has been selected by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs for a five year Strategic partnership for Garment Supply Chain Transformation starting 2016 as part of its “Dialogue and Dissent” policy framework. The primary goal of this initiative is to improve the lobbying and advocacy capacity of Trade Unions and labour related NGOs by enhancing their understanding of international RMG supply chains, access to critical information and know-how. Opportunities will be identified to develop pilot experiences in the supply chain resulting in good practices related to living wages, gender-based violence and freedom of association and collective bargaining, which will facilitate more effective social dialogue and monitoring of human rights compliance at the factory level and reinforce the value of NGOs and trade unions to all supply chain stakeholders.

 

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Progress and Potential: How Better Work is improving garment workers’ lives and boosting factory competitiveness

By | Social dialogue

To further understand the impact of its work, the Better Work Programme commissioned Tufts University to conduct an independent impact assessment. Since the programme’s inception, Tufts’ interdisciplinary research team has gathered and analysed nearly 15,000 survey responses from garment workers and 2,000 responses from factory managers in Haiti, Indonesia, Jordan, Nicaragua and Vietnam.

The analysis of these responses represents an in-depth evaluation of Better Work’s effectiveness in changing workers’ lives and boosting factory competitiveness. The researchers used different experimental strategies to evaluate the impact of the programme. These included a strategy to isolate the impact of the programme using randomised intervals of time – reflecting factories’ different periods of exposure to Better Work services – as well as a randomised controlled trial to evaluate the impact of the supervisory skills training.

By capturing this unique set of data and by establishing a rigorous analytical framework and methodology, the researchers were able to test – often for the first time – hypotheses on multiple issues including human resource management strategies, firm organization and global supply chain dynamics. Their assessment is an invaluable contribution to the world’s understanding of labour in global supply chains.

 

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Action-oriented research on gender equality and the working and living conditions of garment factory workers in Cambodia

By | Cambodia, Social dialogue

This study intends to increase understanding on gender equality and discrimination in Cambodia’s garment industry with a view to improve the economic and social well-being of its mostly female workforce and inform the further development of a responsible corporate model of garment production. It examines the working and living conditions of garment workers and their perceptions on discrimination and harassment in the workplace in garment factories in the country. The report provides a number of recommendations for the ILO, the Government, employers and workers and their organizations, and for civil society. The recommendations call for strengthening gender equality and gender mainstreaming programmes within these organizations; improving technical capacity to address and improve working conditions alongside business needs; promoting pay equity, advancement and training opportunities, anti-harassment programmes, and maternity protection within the factories; and developing programmes and partnerships to address garment industry workers’ needs for better food and nutrition, health services including reproductive health services, access to water, sanitation and energy, and access to childcare and education.

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