The world’s largest sectorial trade union organization, IndustriALL Global Union, representing 50 million workers, and the world’s leading garment retailer H&M have together with the Swedish trade union IF Metall signed a global framework agreement, protecting the interests of 1.6 million garment workers.
This innovative global framework agreement (GFA) marks a new level of commitment to fundamental rights of workers across H&M’s supply chain. It covers 1.6 million garment workers that are employed at the around 1,900 factories run by the manufacturers where H&M buys their products.
The agreement is based on a shared conviction that collaboration between the parties on the labour market is crucial for lasting improvements for the garment workers and the creation of well-functioning industrial relations.
IndustriALL general secretary Jyrki Raina, one of the architects behind the groundbreaking Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh which was first signed by H&M, says on the GFA:
“This agreement opens an exciting new chapter in the relationship between IndustriALL Global Union and H&M. It cements the path towards a sustainable garment industry with unionized workforce, constructive labour-management relations, living wages through industry level collective agreements, and safe workplaces.”
H&M CEO Karl-Johan Persson says:
“Well-functioning industrial relations including collective bargaining are keys to achieving fair living wages and improved working conditions in our supply chain. We believe that the collaboration with IndustriALL and IF Metall will contribute to our already ongoing work within this field as well as help to create stable sourcing markets.”
The agreement includes setting up national monitoring committees, initially planned for countries such as Cambodia, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Turkey to safeguard the implementation of the agreement from the factory floor upwards, and to facilitate a dialogue between the parties on the labour market.
The collaboration also aims to promote a well-functioning dialogue between employers and employees in order to solve conflicts peacefully, and primarily at the factory level where they arise.
IF Metall president Anders Ferbe says:
“The agreement creates a unique system for committees made up of the parties on the labour market, on national as well as international level. Implementing the agreement, primarily through communication and training of trade unions and their member, suppliers and employer associations, but also employers in factories where there are currently no unions, will be the most important task.”
The GFA establishes that
- The parties will jointly promote signing of collective agreements both at factory, company and industrial level between relevant social partners
- Workers have the right to refuse unsafe work as part of their health and safety rights
- The parties will provide training for both management and union representatives on employers’ responsibilities, workers’ rights and obligations, industrial relations, collective bargaining agreements and peaceful conflict resolution
- H&M will actively use all its possible leverage to ensure that its direct suppliers respect human and trade union rights in the workplace
- Workers’ representatives are not discriminated against and have access to carry out their representative functions in the workplace
Global Framework Agreements
Global Framework Agreements (GFAs) protect the interests of workers employed in all operations of the multinational companies who sign them.
GFAs are negotiated at the global level between trade unions and companies. They establish the best possible standards on trade union rights, on health and safety, and on the labour relations principles adhered to by the company in its global operations, regardless of the standards existing in a particular country.