Governments around the world are increasingly recognising that ACT is the initiative most likely to deliver living wages to garment workers. The interim report of the UK Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee on the sustainability of UK’s fashion industry is the result of written submissions and a series of public hearings in November last year.
In giving evidence to the committee, IndustriALL’s assistant general secretary Jenny Holdcroft underlined the importance of freedom of association and the need for industry-wide change and reform of brands’ purchasing practices.
“You cannot deliver change factory by factory because the supply chains are too complex and labour rights violations are systemic,” Jenny Holdcroft said, addressing the Committee. “We need to work together to transform the conditions in the production countries where all of the companies are buying.”
IndustriALL’s ACT initiative with global brands aims to deliver sustainable change in the garment and textile industry by linking the conditions under which brands buy their products to wages negotiated through industry-wide collective agreements.
UK Member of Parliament and Environmental Audit Committee Chair, Mary Creagh, said in the report that it was shocking to see that a group of major retailers fail to protect their workers:
“It’s disappointing that only a third of the retailers we wrote to are signed up to ACT, an important global initiative working towards getting a living wage for all garment workers.”
She also recognised the importance of Global Framework Agreements, noting that the Committee welcomes ASOS becoming the first online retailer to sign a Global Framework Agreement with IndustriALL, committing to the highest possible standards on trade union rights, health and safety, and labour relations.
Following recognition of ACT in the final declaration of the G20 Labour and Employment Ministers in 2017, support for ACT continues to grow. Jenny Holdcroft welcomed the support of the UK Committee, adding to that of the German government, which is cooperating with ACT through its Partnership for Sustainable Textiles.
Jenny Holdcroft said:
“More governments should be following the example of the UK and Germany and calling on brands to sign up to the ACT Commitments in order to transform wages and working conditions in the garment industry.”
At the OECD Forum on Due Diligence Guidance in the Garment and Footwear Sector later this month, a presentation by IndustriALL, ACT and trade unions and employers from Cambodia will encourage governments to call on brands to join ACT and make the same commitments to reform their purchasing practices as has been made by ACT brands.
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