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Textile unions in Asia Pacific commit to campaign for safe workplaces

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23 May, 2023A two-day workshop on health and safety in the TGSL sector in Asia Pacific, held in Bangkok, Thailand on 18-19 May, 2023, discussed global developments in the sector, specifically the ILO Code of Practice in Health and Safety in Textiles, clothing, leather and footwear, the International Accord and IndustriALL’s global campaign on Garment workers need safe factories.

The meeting, supported by IndustriALL Japanese affiliate UA Zensen, examined best practices by affiliates from around the world, including IndustriALL's research and campaigning strategies.

According to the ILO, work-related illnesses and injuries kill 29 million people per and cost the global economy US$5.4 billion. Beatriz Cunha, ILO sectoral specialist, and Kamrul Anam, vice-chair of the ILO experts committee that adopted the code of practice on textile safety and health, presented the code and called on unions to work together for its implementation.

Affiliates from Bangladesh and Pakistan emphasized the importance of the International Accord on Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry, urging more global brands to sign. Currently 198 brands have signed the Accord.

Participants discussed the Bipartite Agreement in Sri Lanka to promote freedom of association and OHS and the Indonesian campaign to prevent gender-based violence and harassment. UA Zensen emphasized their zero-accident policy. Clothing manufacturer H&M presented guidelines aimed at preventing and addressing gender-based violence in their supply chain, which were jointly developed by NMC members, including IndustriALL affiliates.

Christina Hajagos-Clausen, IndustriALL TGSL sector director, said:

“Together with our ongoing campaigns and engagement with brands to promote workplace safety, we must also leverage the due diligence laws and guidelines that countries like Germany, Norway, and Japan have introduced, to hold retailers accountable for workers’ rights violations in the supply chains.”

Recognizing occupational safety and health (OSH) tools, best practices and approaches in the TGSL sector, discussions took place on how to campaign for implementation of the ILO code, develop effective workplace OSH mechanisms that include gender perspectives, engage in education, and emphasize the importance of improving health and safety and overall working conditions in the sector.