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First meeting of COATS global trade union network

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3 November, 2020On 28 October, unions from COATS factories met online to discuss the effect of the pandemic on the workplace. For the first time, IndustriALL and union leaders formed a COATS global trade union network.

The network meeting is an important step to form global alliances and facilitate information exchange. IndustriALL and affiliated unions work towards a formal dialogue with COATS on a global level to navigate safe workplaces and ensure the income and employment of workers during the crisis.

Workers in the textile and garment industry have been heavily impacted by Covid-19; the ILO projects 400 million formal job losses in the first half of 2020 worldwide.

In light of this, participants shared how Covid-19 affects workers in their factories. Union leaders spoke about the effects of the pandemic on:

  • Employment and working conditions
  • Union membership
  • Workers health and safety
  • Union and management actions

Several union leaders praised COATS for providing benefits for and maintaining a good relationship with workers. In these challenging times, unions are making great efforts to negotiate with the company and some challenges were reported.

Union leaders focus on ensuring workers’ health and safety; they provide masks, set up transportation to the factory, and inform workers on new developments.

Valter Sanches, IndustriALL general secretary, says:

“Networks are a great tool for exchange of experiences and support and we can help each other in solidarity. We will keep supporting this network, both at regional and global level. COATS is a steady global company that managed the crisis including by reconverting part of its production for personal protective equipment and the care front. Workers must be part of this development. We will insist in opening a global dialogue with company management.”

Union leaders expressed that in the current situation, a high level of unionization is important to protect jobs and show solidarity.

Szabolcs Beothy-Fehler, union leader from Hungary, says:

“Some salaries have fallen due to the pandemic, so this is a good opportunity to build union power.”