Textile and garment unions advance organizing in Tunisia and Morocco

24.04.2017

Textile and garment union affiliates of IndustriALL Global Union met in Tunisia and Morocco to further develop key organizing objectives and put into action their sectorial organizing plans.

At the meeting in Hammamet, Tunisia, on 13-16 March IndustriALL Global Union and its affiliate Fédération Générale du Textile, de l'Habillement, Chaussure et Cuir (FGTHCC-UGTT) focused on the next steps in finalizing and implementing the newly negotiated 2017 sectorial agreement. In early March the trade union center Union Générale Tunisienne du Travail (UGTT) and the employers’ organization Union Tunisienne de l'industrie, du commerce et de l'artisanat (UTICA) have signed the agreement on six per cent wage increase for each 2016 and 2017 to cover the workers in private sector.

The activists also highlighted the importance of supply chain industrial relations in the global sectoral policies of IndustriALL and debated on how these can translate to the national context in Tunisia.

“It is essential that our sectorial work continue to emphasize the role of industrial relations in the supply chain rather than voluntary non-binding initiatives,”

stated Christina Hajagos-Clausen, IndustriALL Global Union’s textile and garment director.

As part of an overview of the sectorial global framework agreements (GFAs), a working group was elected to review and plan next steps on GFA implementation in Tunisia, specifically focusing on the Inditex supply chain in the country.

In recent years FGTHCC-UGTT has taken important steps in strengthening union density within the sector. Since 2015, the union has launched an organizing campaign in the key areas of textile and garment industry in the country http://www.industriall-union.org/tunisian-textile-and-garment-union-sees-strong-growth.

Ayda Elzerai, leader of FGTHCC-UGTT said,

“Organizing is becoming a dominant element of our everyday union work. We are committed to constantly exert efforts and develop strategies aiming at increasing union density.”

IndustriALL continues to run a range of training on methods of mobilizing union members and attracting new members into the union.

In Casablanca, Morocco, Union Marocaine du Travail (UMT) announced that it would begin to take next steps in creating a national textile and garment union. This is an important step in enhancing the union’s organizing efforts.

“The fast expansion of the global garment supply chain and brands in Morocco has imposed various challenges for workers in the sector. It is now imperatives to build an effective sectorial union structure to better defend our workers’ rights in such complex nature of the industry,” said Araby Hamouk, leader of UMT textile and garment unions.

During the two-day meeting in Casablanca on 16-17 March, the role of global brands in the supply chain was debated and UMT local union leaders discussed the importance of union participation in the brand’s audits of their workplace.

Many leaders felt that the auditing of the factories need real worker input to be meaningful. With the launch of the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains in the Garment and Footwear Sector, there is a common understanding that workers are not peripheral to the due diligence process, but that they are core to it. UMT local leaders hope that in the future workers can be involved in on-site supplier assessments, development of corrective action plans, and the design of operational-level grievance mechanism of the global brands producing in Morocco.

At the following Inditex GFA meeting on 21 and 22 March unionized and non-union Inditex Moroccan suppliers discussed the importance of social dialogue. Participants from workers/unions and national suppliers were introduced to the content of the GFA between IndustriALL and Inditex and how its implementation can improve social dialogue in the industry in Morocco.

“Working with the garment global brands to improve the social dialogue and working conditions is a new approach in Morocco and MENA. We are keen to further develop such potentials with our affiliates and to include the supply chains of more global brands operating in the region,” stated Ahmed Kamel, IndustriALL Global Union’s MENA contact person.