ACT, IndustriALL’s initiative with global brands to achieve living wages in garment supply chains, was presented as a model for sustainable global supply chains at this year’s G20 Labour and Employment Ministers meeting, held in Germany.
Highlighting initiatives and policies contributing to decent work and creating sustainable global supply chains was one of the themes of the G20 meeting on 18 – 19 May.
Presenting ACT alongside Tchibo CEO Thomas Linemayr, IndustriALL Global Union Assistant General Secretary Jenny Holdcroft told G20 labour ministers how the ACT process represents the best chance of achieving living wages in garment global supply chains by introducing industry-wide bargaining and linking it to brand purchasing practices.
She highlighted the need for higher wages to be set across the entire industry in order to prevent individual factories and brands from negotiating lower prices based on lower wages.
In the context of global supply chains, where the buyers at the top of the supply chain have the greatest power to influence where value is distributed along the chain and how much of it ends up in the hands of workers, reform of purchasing practices in support of industry bargaining is essential.
By linking national industry-level collective bargaining between unions and employers to the purchasing practices of brands, the ACT process creates a framework for genuine supply chain industrial relations. Through industry bargaining, workers can get a wage that is enough to properly support themselves and their families, and at the same time the specific nature of the industry, working hours, productivity and other issues that have bearing on wages, can be addressed.
Following the presentation of ACT made by IndustriALL and Tchibo, the ACT initiative was recognized in the final declaration of the G20 Labour Ministers as an example of the essential role of social partners in reducing inequality, eliminating poverty wages and achieving sustainable wage growth.
For the first time, the ACT process aims to create a system that, by addressing the structural barriers to living wages, has a genuine chance of increasing garment workers’ wages in a way that is scalable, sustainable and enforceable,
said Jenny Holdcroft.
ACT allows Tchibo to join forces with other large brands and IndustriALL, creating leverage and a strong voice to move living wage on industry and governmental agendas,
said Thomas Linemayr.
As ACT, we have taken on a great commitment and we know this will take time and patience. So we ask for as much support we can get from governments and in-country stakeholders on this path. We can only do this together.
John Ruggie, Former Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Business and Human Rights said on ACT:
It illustrates the promise of collective action to leverage change. Importantly, initiatives like ACT are not just about voluntary philanthropic contributions to development, but also the product of a recognized responsibility of companies to address severe human rights risks in their supply chains.
In meeting this responsibility, ACT makes a critical contribution to sustainable development as well.