IndustriALL Global Union trade union affiliates representing garment workers at H&M have agreed upon a global dispute resolution mechanism with the Swedish fashion giant, as part of IndustriALL’s global framework agreement (GFA) with the company.
The GFA with H&M is unique in that has a National Monitoring Committees made up of representatives from unions and H&M to implement workers’ rights under the terms of the GFA. The NMCs are active in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar and Turkey.
The NMCs met for a second global meeting in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh from 10 to 12 December, and were also joined by participants from India and Pakistan, who will form NMCs in 2019.
The participants debated a set of dispute resolution recommendations and reached an agreement on a framework. Under this framework, they agreed many procedures to solve disputes over working conditions, occupational safety and health, trade union representation, prevention of conflicts, taking labour actions and negotiating in good faith starting from shop-floor-levelto factory level.
“The recommendation of case handling procedure will be a useful tool for IndustriALL affiliates and H&M suppliers when dealing with disputes in a structured and result oriented process. It can be a constructive tool to solve issues as close as possible to where they occur and at the same time avoid unnecessary labour actions from the social partners. A successful implementation can, as well, be a step forward to promote the development of industrial relations and social dialogue. the challenge will be to make the recommendation well-known and accepted throughout the whole supply chain,” said Mats Svensson,International Secretary of Swedish affiliate IF Metall, which is a signatory to the GFA with H&M.
Christina Hajagos-Clausen, IndustriALL director for the textile and garment industry, and Lars-Åke Bergqvist, Global CSR Coordinator at H&M,welcomed participants to the meeting. Christina said:
“In 2018, the NMCs continued to work to establish well-functioning industrial relations along the H&M supply chain. Many disputes were resolved through agreed upon negotiated remedies between factory unions and H&M suppliers, and awareness building on the GFA continued globally. Clearly, the work of the NMCs is vital to ensure that the GFA is respected. We must continue this trend.”
Ms. Maria Sargren, Swedish Ambassador to Cambodia addressed the National Monitoring Committees (NMC) on the opening day of their meeting adding that the NMCs are a positive way forward in the development of industrial relations along H&M’s supply chain. She further underscored the importance of ACT (which H&M is a member signatory) and industry-wide collective bargaining as a good example of social dialogue between the workers and employers.
Athit Kong, sector co-chair of IndustriALL’s TGSL sector and a member of the Cambodian NMC, added:
“I have high hopes that this global collaboration will continue to turn into practice. So, now the NMC has started to exercise their role and responsibilities, especially with the new recommendations for dispute settlement. I do hope that we keep making progress which promotes better living conditions for workers and business growth for all. And, last but not least, trust and sharing are the foundations of finding solutions.”