Though the garment industry continues to flourish globally, bad working conditions, low wages and long hours are some of the issues the industry is confronting in many countries. Now trade unions, civil-society organizations and the Dutch government are supporting an agreement which includes taking steps to improve working conditions in garment and textile production units in countries such as Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Turkey.
The agreement has been drafted under the guidance of the Social and Economic Council of Netherland (SER). The coalition includes industry organizations VGT, Modint and Inretail, trade unions FNV and CNV, the Dutch government and the civil-society organizations Solidaridad, UNICEF Nederland, India Committee of the Netherlands, the Dutch Stop Child Labor Coalition and Four Paws Netherlands.
The coalition has agreed to tackle issues such as discrimination, child labor and forced labor, T will be done by having a healthy dialogue with independent employee representatives. It will also work towards achieving better wages, safe conditions and a healthier environment for employees. Also, the aim is to reduce adverse environmental impact, energy and chemical usage and waste, and the prevention of animal suffering.
SER said the coalition would enable the parties to work together on objectives that would be difficult to achieve individually, such as living wages, stronger trade unions and the reduction of excessively long working days. Participating unions will identify issues that affect their suppliers at all stages of the chain and will draw up an annual improvement plan. Trade unions and civil-society organizations will support the plans with their expertise and will involve their local partners their implementation. The Dutch government will try to reach agreements with governments in production countries to reinforce their health and safety inspectorate.
A joint report on activities will be issued each year for the first three years, and organizations. The coalition will secure funding for the agreement and aim to have it signed in June by at least 35 companies in the sector, who together represent at least 30 per cent of sales in the Netherlands.