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18 May, 2018IndustrtiALL Global Union‘s textile and garment affiliates from MENA region’s main producer countries Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia and Morocco reported tangible progress in organizing and collective bargaining at a meeting at Tunisian capital, Tunis, on 3-4 May 2018. With renewed determination, affiliates developed further plans for important actions in the textile and garment supply chain.
In Jordan, it was reported that a new sector-wide agreement includes improvement in wages and working conditions. In addition, the agreement covers both Jordanian nationals and migrant workers. In close cooperation with IndustriALL, with an objective to strengthening the voice of migrant workers in the sector, the Jordanian affiliate General Trade Union of Workers in Textile Garment & Clothing Industries (JTGCU) is currently building a Migrant Workers’ Union Advisory Committee.
Through negotiations with Employers’ Association and threatening to strike, IndustriALL’s Tunisian affiliate, Fédération Générale du Textile, de l'Habillement, Chaussure et Cuir (FGTHCC-UGTT) achieved a 6 per cent wage increase in 2016 and 2017. FGTHCC-UGTT is now preparing for the annual negotiations on the wages in the sector aiming at an 8 per cent increase.
“Despite the fact that around 300 factories were closed since 2013, we have organized more than 5,000 new members within the framework of our organizing campaign with IndustriALL launched at the end of 2015,” said Habib Hzami, General Secretary of FGTHCC-UGTT.
IndustriALL’s Moroccan textile affiliate, Syndicat National des Travailleurs du Textile et du Cuir (SNTTC-UMT) reported that it had organized three additional Inditex suppliers early in 2018 and is making progress towards setting up a national sectorial textile and garment union, as the preparatory committee has finalized the key tasks and is currently discussing the possible dates for holding the founding congress.
Garment and textile unions from Egypt emphasized their commitment to continue strengthening capacities as a genuine voice for workers at sectorial level.
Although 2017 saw an increase in membership throughout the region, there is still much work to be done in 2018.
For the first time, IndustriALL’s MENA textile meeting welcomed Italian affiliates, FILCTEM-CGIL, UILTEC-UIL and FEMCA-CISL, which lent their expertise and experience working with Italian brands. Participants worked on proposals on how to engage in industrial relations with key Italian brands that source from the MENA region and agreed to carry out a detailed mapping of the Armani and Benetton supply chains. MENA region and Italian affiliates will do a follow up bilateral meetings to follow the mapping results to elaborate action plans, improve exchange of information and strengthen solidarity, especially in the event of disputes with suppliers to Italian brands. MENA unions emphasized the need that the Italian brand’s representatives meet with unions when visiting the suppliers in the region.
MENA affiliates plan to continue to use the sector’s global framework agreements (GFAs) to reach out to unorganized workers, in particular Inditex, which has a significant production presence in the MENA region.
“Global framework agreements can be used to ensure that workers’ rights to freedom of association are respected in the brands’ global supply chains. GFAs are a way to put industrial relations back into the supply chain,” noted Christina Hajagos-Clausen, IndustriALL’s garment and textile sector director.