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A new supply chain industrial relations model for the textile and garment industry

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  • English

14 January, 2022

Workers have borne the brunt of the breakdown of the textile and garment supply chain, brought on by the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on the sector’s unsustainable business model.

Order cancellations have driven wholesale closure of thousands of garment factories, with millions of workers laid off in countries with no social safety net. This has highlighted the precariousness of the sector’s business model and the urgent need to establish sustainable models of supply chain industrial relations.

The recently negotiated International Accord further validates a new supply chain model of industrial relations, one that is cantered around binding rules, holding brands accountable for their impact on workers, rather than voluntary initiatives.

IndustriALL and its affiliates see this model as one that can be applied to other systemic problems in the supply chain. We intend to start the narrative on the change needed in the sector, including an urgent need for social protection for garment workers.

By social protection, we mean protective measures that are part of a worker’s basic rights and that underpin a robust and more equitable workplace. Among others, those measures include:

  • unemployment insurance
  • sick pay
  • social security
  • severance pay

The current model, where severance is the only form of social protection, led to wage theft during the pandemic.

This is a continuum - from the Bangladesh Accord, which addressed worker rights and safety in one specific country, to the International Accord, that aims to extend those gains beyond Bangladesh, to an initiative for universal social protection that will seek to implant deep rooted and positive change for an entire sector.