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Implementing global agreements with brands in the garment sector

3 October, 2018Around 130 union leaders from Turkey and Bangladesh met in Istanbul, Turkey, to exchange experiences and knowledge on union organizing, collective bargaining agreements and social dialogue within the context of the implementation of global framework agreements (GFAs).

The meeting, from 26 to 29 September 2018, was joined by IndustriALL Global Union affiliates in Bulgaria, who are currently using GFAs in their recruitment campaigns, as well as global brands that have signed GFAs with IndustriALL (Inditex, H&M, ASOS, Tchibo and Esprit). 

Participants evaluated the role of GFAs in developing strong industrial relations in the global supply chain. The sessions focused on the role of the GFAs in organizing, collective bargaining, and the elimination of gender-based violence in the workplace. 

Participants discussed how GFAs are becoming a stronger tool for improving labour relations in the supply chain, and there was a call for IndustriALL to negotiate agreements with more global brands.

Several organizing tactics were identified as important for enabling freedom of association.  These include setting up protocols that guarantee neutrality and access to the workplace between the supplier and the national union; brand support for social dialogue between unions and their suppliers; and joint brand, union and supplier training on freedom of association for both workers and management. 

Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL assistant general secretary, said:

“Global framework agreements are a very important tool for building union strength across supply chains. But they are not a magic wand. They are only effective when they are implemented and monitored. That is why it is so important for us to share our experiences.”

Unions from production countries also exchanged experiences on the best ways to monitor GFAs, and there was strong support for the continued development of national monitoring committees. IndustriALL affiliates said they played an integral part in ensuring that national unions can ensure GFAs are implemented in the global brands’ supplier factories.

There was a technical session on the OECD’s Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains in the Garment and Footwear Sector,followed by a discussion on how to use the recommendations on worker involvement in the due diligence process with global framework agreements. 

“The recommendations set forth in the guidance, such as jointly developing programmes that involve on-site assessments, development of corrective action plans, verification, validation and monitoring of impacts and design of operational-level grievance mechanisms are key components to stronger GFA implementation,” said Christina Hajagos-Clausen, IndustriALL’s textile and garment director.

The meeting is part of the IndustriALL programme on GFA implementation, which is supported by DGB Bildungswerk.