Fibre2Fashion: The ILO and H&M Group, working together since 2001 in countries such as Cambodia and Bangladesh, have renewed and expanded their partnership to further improve working conditions and productivity in the textile and garment industry supply chains. This partnership will help drive both the Decent Work and the Sustainable Development Goal agendas.
The new agreement expands an existing partnership, and continues the longstanding, close collaboration between H&M Group and the ILO that aims to strengthen work in H&M Group’s supply chain on sustainability. The new partnership will include more H&M Group business functions than before, making it even broader.
The renewed and expanded partnership was signed by Guy Ryder, ILO director-general, Karl-Johan Persson, CEO, H&M Group and Anna Gedda, head of sustainability, H&M Group.
“The continuation of this successful partnership with H&M Group is important as it provides a basis on which to continue to promote both the Decent Work Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals in workplaces worldwide in a key economic sector. Lessons learned from these kinds of partnerships are important to inform the ILO’s work with the private sector,” Rie Vejs-Kjeldgaard, director for partnerships at the ILO, said.
The flagship Better Work Programme of the ILO, jointly managed by the International Finance Corporation, will play a key role in implementing activities under the agreement. The Better Work Programme operates in seven countries (Bangladesh, Cambodia, Haiti, Indonesia, Jordan, Nicaragua and Viet Nam) working with about 1,600 factories that employ around 2,200,000 workers.
“We know strengthened industrial relations and social dialogue are a must when working towards improved working conditions and productivity within the supply chain. Thanks to our longstanding partnership with the ILO, which now has been renewed, we can continue working together towards this goal,” said Gedda.
H&M Group and the ILO have been working together since 2001 in countries such as Cambodia and Bangladesh. They have specifically addressed a range of issues including wages, work quality, productivity, and the documentation and recognition of workers’ skills.
Both parties to the agreement acknowledge that systemic changes are needed in terms of labour relations, via working with governments, trade unions and employers’ organisations.
While global production systems have created millions of jobs opportunities in the garment sector, mostly for young women, sometimes wages and working conditions are not in compliance with national labour laws. At times, freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining are restricted or denied. Legal minimum wages are not always implemented or enforced, or are set too low to adequately support livelihoods.