FWF participates in launch of OECD due diligence guidance

On 8 February, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) launched its guidelines for due diligence for the garment and footwear industry at a roundtable event in Paris.  FWF’s Martin Curley participated in a panel discussion.

The OECD guidelines provide extensive advice on the kinds of risks multinational companies are likely to encounter in their supply chains, and steps which can be taken to identify and mitigate those risks.  While the UN Framework on Business and Human Rights explained why human rights due diligence was important, the OECD guidelines provide a baseline of what due diligence activities which should be carried out by all companies in the garment industry.

While compliance with the OECD guidelines remains voluntary, they provide a framework for all companies to understand and respond to human rights risks in their supply chains.

At the launch, Martin shared FWF’s experiences with due diligence on sexual harassment and violence against women in the garment industry.
The OECD guidelines align closely with FWF’s own requirements for member brands.  FWF’s public reporting on the due diligence work of members, through the Brand Performance Check System provides an important layer of transparency and credibility to the due diligence efforts of its member brands.


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Roundtable Turkey: integrating Syrian refugee workers

Garment brands, factories, unions, the Turkish government, international organisations and other stakeholders gathered in Istanbul on Monday to discuss challenges and possible solutions for integrating Syrian refugee workers. The roundtable was organised by Fair Wear Foundation.

“The turnout was quite high”, said FWF’s Andriëtte Nommensen, who organised the meeting. “The participants covered the whole spectrum that is needed to address the issue of Syrian refugees in Turkish garment factories.”

Tackling child labour
In his opening speech, Dutch ambassador Cornelis van Rij praised Turkey for taking up so many refugees, and FWF  for actively trying to tackle child labour in the country. He said he hoped that the organisations that were present would be able to work together on possible solutions.

The meeting resulted in an outline of next steps that the Dutch and Turkish governments, brands and factories, and civil society organisations can take. Possible solutions mentioned include improved labour inspections and an easier way to get work permits for Syrian refugees.

The participants also emphasised the role of European brands. They can take responsibility by getting better insight into their supply chains, including subcontractors, put less pressure on the price and play an active role in remediation  when children are found.

Fair Wear Foundation requires its members to ensure that all suppliers have a policy in place for registering Syrian refugee workers; see the FWF guidance for members sourcing in Turkey.

Read more about the difficulties of eradicating child labour in garment supply chains and possible solutions in this FWF article.
If you want to learn more about the Turkish garment industry, read FWF’s latest Turkey country study.

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Belgian FNG Group joins FWF

FWF is very happy to welcome the FNG Group as a new member. The company produces fashion for women, men, children and babies.

The Belgian FNG Group joins with 8 brands: Baker Bridge, CKS, Fred & Ginger, Friday, Hilde & Co, Kiekeboe, Limon and Superstar.

‘Our items are being created with a lot of passion’, says FNG’s Sara Kovic. ‘To us, quality also means, respecting every individual involved in our production process.’

The first Brand Performance Check of the FNG Group brands will be held after the first year of membership.

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FWF keeps working on possible solutions in Myanmar

The Dutch research organisation SOMO published a report on labour conditions in Myanmar which provides an insight in the garment industry in the country. FWF is aware of the high risks in Myanmar that are mentioned in the report and works actively together with its member companies to try to tackle those risks.

Resolving problems
Some FWF members are linked to factories in the SOMO report where problems were found. As this situation illustrates, even brands that have been very active in reducing risks in their supply chain cannot guarantee that its supply chain is 100% fair. In high-risk countries like Myanmar, the risk of serious problems is always present, in all garment supply chains.

However, clothing brands have a duty to ensure that their clothing is produced under good conditions and to resolve problems with the factory when they occur. And that is exactly what FWF member brands are trying to do. FWF members that source in Myanmar are addressing problems head-on, together with the factories they are working with.

List of suppliers online
FWF requires its members to be transparent about which factories in Myanmar they work with. FWF publishes and regularly updates this list of factories. It’s quite unusual to be this transparent, and these brands show courage in letting critical organisations evaluate their effort to improve working conditions.  FWF annually publishes a report on each brand’s performance, including information on how well they addressed the specific risks in countries like Bangladesh, Turkey and Myanmar.

Fair Wear Foundation welcomes efforts to show consumers the conditions under which their clothes might be made. However, FWF chose to focus on possible solutions. FWF brands are doing better than average when it comes to taking responsibility for the workers who make their clothes and addressing issues such as those found in the SOMO report.

For more information about the garment industy in Myanmar, read FWF’s Myanmar country study (2016).


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Vacancy HR Officer 24 hrs January 2017 – EXTENSION

To strengthen its team, FWF is looking for a HR Officer for 24 hrs a week.

The HR Officer will deliver active and proactive HR services to ensure organisational effectiveness by providing advice and support to FWF’s Management Team, individual supervisors and all other employees. These services should enable them to enhance their performance through the implementation of HR policies and procedures in line with legal requirements, organisational standards and current best practices.

For more information, please read the full text of the vacancy.

Ideally, the candidate should start on 1 May 2017. If you are interested, please send your CV with cover letter to vacancy@fairwear.org no later than 27 February 2017. We hope to interview candidates during the period starting on 27 February and ending on 17 March.

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Vietnam version of FWF Formula now online

FWF is pleased to announce that the Vietnamese version of the Fair Wear Formula film is now available online


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FWF writes letter to Bangladeshi government after strikes

In response to protests over low wages in Bangladesh, Fair Wear Foundation and the Fair Labour Association (FLA) have written a joint letter to the government of Bangladesh.

In the letter FWF and the FLA express their concern about government and employer reactions to recent protests by garment worker in Dhaka, which included the firing of protesting workers and the detention of union leaders and workers’ rights advocates.

Striking workers in Bangladesh want an increase in the minimum wage.  They have expressed that current minimum wage levels are not sufficient to meet their basic needs – a finding supported by research from FWF and the FLA. In the letter, concern is expressed about the current level of worker’s wages compared to the cost of living in Bangladesh.

More than 50 factories were temporarily closed in response to worker protests, with at least 1,500 workers (and as many as 3,500 workers according to some reports) being fired, and others arrested.  Union leaders and labour rights advocates were also arrested or detained by authorities.

Since 2006, FWF has been active in Bangladesh. Currently 17 FWF members are sourcing from 215 Bangladeshi garment factories. One of the main challenges in Bangladesh is related to payment of living wages.


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FWF launches innovative guide book on living wages

How can garment brands make real progress on living wages? This complex question lies at the heart of FWF’s latest publication, ‘Living Wages: An Explorer’s Notebook’. The innovative guide for garment brands provides initial steps to answer this question, based on real-life experience.

The Explorer’s Notebook is the next step forward in figuring out the routes brands and factories can take to achieve payment of living wages. The Notebook defines nine obstacles that stand in the way of living wages, and offers some solutions for overcoming them.  ‘For the first time, garment brands can access real life examples and concrete guidance on implementing higher wages,’ explains FWF Director Erica van Doorn. ‘For example on how to select a factory partner, collaborate with other brands and set the target wage.’

Go out & start exploring
Five frontrunner FWF members showcase what wage pilots can look like and share real-life stories of how they managed to increase workers’ wages by effectively involving them in the process. None of the stories is a claim to perfect results. But the cases offer proof that working around roadblocks to living wages is indeed possible. The user-friendly layout of the notebook makes it easy for brands to take steps towards improvement, even if they are new to the process of raising wages.

Garment workers need higher wages and there is no single, simple solution for it. Van Doorn: ‘It’s hard to know where to start, because there are so many obstacles that prevent living wages from being paid – from assessing wage benchmarks to ensuring increases reach workers.’
FWF believes that the best way to find solid answers is the FWF living wage mantra: ‘Start paying higher wages now. Analyse what worked and what didn’t. And then keep going.’

More information about living wages can be found on FWF’s Living Wage Portal.

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Fond of Bags joins FWF

FWF is happy to add another bag company to its member list. A big welcome to Fond of Bags!

The German company was founded in 2010 with their launch of the ‘ergo bag’, an ergonomic backpack for primary schoolchildren. The company now sells seven bag brands, offering a diverse selection of bags.

Fond of Bags began their FWF membership in November 2016. The company wants everyone along its supply chain to profit from the bag production: ‘Everybody who gets in touch with our products should be fond of them’, says CEO Sven-Oliver Pink.

The first Brand Performance Check of the company will be held after the first year of membership.

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Resource Kit on gender-based violence now online

To mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women FWF and the Training Centre of the International Labour Organization (ITCILO) are proud to launch their joint publication: the Resource Kit on gender-based violence in global supply chains.

The Kit is designed to help global brands, employers, trade unions and other stakeholders to tackle gender-based violence and discrimination in their supply chains. Andreas Klemmer, Director of Training Programmes ITCILO: ‘This kit provides valuable background and expert resources, as well as a wealth of case studies and practical strategies to overcome violence against women workers.’

Vulnerable workers

Gender-based violence in garment factories, particularly in the form of sexual violence and verbal abuse, is under-reported. Yet, it is experienced by many vulnerable, often young and female, workers. The Resource Kit helps users to raise awareness on the topic, and to identify gender-based violence in supply chains and the role that brands can play in reducing it.  It also presents practical initiatives and strategies.

The Resource Kit can be used for both individual and group learning on issues related to gender-based violence in global supply chains. You can find the Resource Kit here. For more information on violence against women in global garment supply chains, read FWF’s Standing Firm Against Factory Floor Harassment.

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