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IndustriALL and Esprit commit to working together to improve workers’ rights

6 August, 2018IndustriALL Global Union has signed a global framework agreement with multinational fashion brand, Esprit, committing to respect, protect and champion the human rights of workers in its supply chain.

The agreement covers 525,000 workers at more than 1,100 suppliers making textile, footwear and apparel products for Esprit in 27 countries.

In the agreement with IndustriALL, Esprit recognizes the crucial role that freedom of association and collective bargaining play in empowering workers and developing well-functioning industrial relations. Through the agreement, IndustriALL and Esprit will collaborate to set up mechanisms to make it easier for local trade unions to negotiate detailed collective agreements with all suppliers to Esprit at the national or local level.

Under the agreement, IndustriALL and Esprit will collaborate to ensure that fundamental International Labour Organization (ILO) standards are applied by their contractors, subcontractors and principle suppliers, including the 1998 ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work as well as many other ILO Conventions and internationally recognized standards.

In conjunction with IndustriALL, Esprit commits to:

  • Developing mechanisms involving IndustriALL trade union affiliates and Esprit staff at country level to drive implementation of the agreement
  • Developing a strategy to develop an enabling environment for freedom of association and collective bargaining
  • Designing and implementing grievance mechanisms to ensure workers’ access to remedy
  • Implementing a training programme for workers and factory managers, as well as Suppliers, to create an enabling environment for freedom of association and to build sustainable internal dialogue in factories
  • Jointly develop a methodology to periodically assess the impact of purchasing practices at the worker level of the supply chain
  • Acting as an enabler of freedom of association through the requirement of its suppliers to adopt a positive, open and collaborative approach towards the activities of trade unions

IndustriALL’s general secretary, Valter Sanches, says:

This is a big step forward for Esprit and for half a million people working in their global supply chain. Esprit recognizes that the best way to empower garment and textile workers is to create an environment where they are free to join a trade union and bargain collectively, while being protected by the highest international labour standards. We look forward to working with our affiliates and using this global agreement to help improve workers’ rights.

Esprit is excited about this collaboration. The Esprit Supplier  Code of Conduct has always included freedom of association. This agreement will give us new tools to uphold this commitment in a meaningful way,

says Lary Brown, VP Head of Global Social Compliance and Sustainability at Esprit.

Esprit has already partnered with IndustriALL as a member of the ACT (Action, Collaboration, Transformation) Initiative, which aims to implement a living wage in garment manufacturing regions by enabling industry collective bargaining in major producing countries.

It is also on the Steering Committee of the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety, set up by IndustriALL and UNI Global Union to improve garment factory conditions after the Rana Plaza factory disaster in 2013.

Esprit, which is headquartered in Germany and Hong Kong sells clothing, footwear, accessories and homeware in 41 countries. All its products are made by suppliers with the majority of production carried out in Bangladesh and China. There is also sizeable production in Turkey, Vietnam, India and Pakistan.