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Making use of global agreements in the garment industry

3 October, 2019Over 80 trade union leaders from Turkey, Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Mauritius and Morocco met in Cesme, Turkey, to see how global framework agreements (GFA) can be better used to boost union organizing, collective bargaining agreements and social dialogue.

Global fashion brands, ASOS, ESPRIT, H&M, Inditex and Tchibo, which have signed GFAs with IndustriALL Global Union, also joined the meeting on 23 and 24 September.

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

Participants discussed how GFAs and social dialogue could be used to promote the new ILO Convention 190 and Recommendation 206 on Violence and Harassment in the garment sector. Gender-based violence, and particularly sexual harassment, is prevalent in the industry. Most garment workers are women and many are young and migrant workers, who are not aware of their rights. They have little access to safe housing and transportation, while the fashion industry generates excessive overtime, low pay, and long working hours.  

The meeting concluded that it was urgent for trade unions and brands to promote the ratification of the new Convention. Trade unions should also push to review existing collective agreements and GFAs, to ensure they are in line with the Convention 190. 

Unions exchanged experiences on the best ways to monitor global framework agreements and there was strong support for production country trade unions to play a greater role. National unions are essential in ensuring that the GFAs are implemented in the global brands’ supplier factories.

Christina Hajagos-Clausen, IndustriALL director for the textile and garment industry, said:

“The increase of unionization rate in GFA supplier factories is key to enable trade unions to monitor the agreements and to ensure that workers’ rights are respected in the global garment supply chain.”

The meeting is part of IndustriALL Global Union’s programme on GFA implementation, which is supported with the assistance of the DGB Bildungswerk.  Since the beginning of the work, trade unions in Turkey and Bangladesh have organized over 50 new GFA supplier factories.

Global framework agreements are negotiated at a global level between trade unions and a multinational company. They put in place the very best standards of trade union rights, health, safety and environmental practices, and quality of work principles across a company's global operations, regardless of whether those standards exist in an individual country.