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.

date: 05/12/2016

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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.

date: 02/12/2016

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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.

date: 25/11/2016

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FWF tours Indonesian factory with Dutch Minister Ploumen

Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Lilianne Ploumen is visiting Indonesia this week. FWF’s Kees Gootjes accompanied her during a factory tour in the Cakung area, in north-east Jakarta.

There, in one of the oldest manufacturing districts in Indonesia, the Dutch delegation led by Minister Ploumen visited the sewing area, health clinic and trade union office of two garment factories, one of which is a supplier of FWF Kjus. The Minister had the opportunity to hear about how the Swiss outdoor brand and the factory jointly followed up on findings from the most recent FWF factory audit.

Trade union

While in the factory, the minister was shown the improvements that the factory made since it was audited in 2014. Examples included better work contract documentation and improved water quality. Ploumen also met with the factory-level trade union and encouraged more female participation in trade union leadership.

Minister Ploumen is visiting Indonesian garment factories to highlight the work that FWF and ILO Better Work are doing with funding provided by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Indonesia is an important part of the five year Strategic Partnership. And, work in the country, carried out in cooperation with partners Mondiaal FNV and CNV Internationaal, focuses on living wages, social dialogue and violence against women in garment factories.

date: 22/11/2016

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country: indonesia
Labour standards:

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FWF welcomes Engelbert Strauss as member

German workwear brand engelbert strauss joined Fair Wear Foundation on 1 November 2016. This family-owned business was founded in 1948, and has continued to grow in the field of professional workwear, accessories and shoes as well as industrial safety.

What it means to become a FWF member

“We are happy to work with Fair Wear Foundation and other member companies towards our aspiration of decent working conditions and transparency. Becoming a member of FWF, we want to be even more targeted and intensify our support to achieve a good working environment for all workers producing engelbert strauss clothing worldwide”, says Steffen Strauss.

The first Brand Performance Check for engelbert strauss will take place after the first year of membership and will be published on its company page.

date: 22/11/2016

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News from Indonesia: Kees Gootjes’ blog

Setting up a local presence in a production country is an intensive and time-consuming process. So instead of having FWF staff travel to Indonesia on a regular basis, it was decided that Kees would work from Indonesia for a few months, to set up an office there. And he wrote to share his experience.

‘Even though there has been an active garment and textile sector in Indonesia since the 1980s, the country has only recently become important as a production country for FWF. More than half of all Indonesian exports have historically been bound for the United States, distantly followed by Japan, Germany and the UK and so FWF members sourced at relatively few factories in Indonesia. However, as manufacturing companies moved their production to Indonesia and more members began sourcing there, it became time for FWF to become active.

Arrival

In the second week of August, my family and I packed our suitcases and headed off to Indonesia for the remainder of 2016. After a long flight, a midnight stopover, and another long flight we arrived in Jakarta and took an overpriced taxi to our new temporary home in Bogor. Since then, I have been working from home, and often commute from Bogor to various locations in and around Jakarta.

It has always been FWF’s approach to meet with relevant stakeholders including trade unions, labour NGOs, employers’ organisations, garment factories, brands and agents, international organisations, etc. For this reason, my first few weeks were filled with meeting relevant stakeholders. These meetings have been invaluable for getting to know the garment sector and the opportunities and challenges that factories and workers face on a daily basis in the country.

Network

One of the benefits of being based in a production country for a longer time is getting the opportunity to have unexpected but very useful meetings that you normally don’t have time for during a short-term country visit. Last Friday, I was given the opportunity to present to a group of almost-graduated students enrolled in the Indonesian Garment Training Centre (IGTC) right here in Bogor. The IGTC is set up to train young Indonesian people for a career in the garment sector, and up to now has a 100% job placement track record. For more than two hours, I was able to have an open and insightful discussion with students about FWF, the importance of social compliance, the pressures that brands put on factories to simultaneously improve working conditions and lower the production costs, and the nature of brand-factory pricing negotiations.

Strategy

Of course, Indonesia is also an important part of the five year Strategic Partnership that FWF is involved in along with CNV Internationaal, Mondiaal FNV and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. During my time here, I will also be working to identify potential pilot projects related to social dialogue, living wage and the prevention of violence against women. Another task I have during my time here is to set up an audit team and a training team.

In the coming weeks and months, I plan to start taking Bahasa lessons, meet more stakeholders, visit more factories located further away from Jakarta and, of course, get the FWF audit and training teams up and running…I will keep you posted!

date: 11/11/2016

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country: indonesia
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Vacancy: Verification Officer (32-36 hrs)

The new verification officer would have his or her basis in FWF’s external positioning team, which focuses on liaising with FWF’s international stakeholders. The team is responsible for FWF’s Lobby & Advocacy efforts as well as its external communications.

In addition to contributing to the external positioning team’s overall strategy, the verification officer would divide his or her time between case management of a number of member companies, and coordinating the Lobby and Advocacy efforts of FWF.

We offer a salary in accordance with the Dutch government remuneration system (BBRA) scale 11, depending on relevant experience.

Ideally, the candidate would start on 1 January 2017; the initial contract will be for 1 year. If you are interested, please send your cv with cover letter to vacancy@fairwear.org no later than 20 November 2016.

For more information, see the complete description of the vacancy here.

date: 07/11/2016

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Vacancy at FWF: Brand Liaison Officer (24 hrs)

FWF has a job opening! To replace one of the team members during her maternity leave (01 December 2016 – 30 April 2017), FWF is looking for a Brand Liaison Officer to work 24 hours per week.

We are looking for someone with a lot of energy who shares our drive to prevent and remedy workplace injustices and to promote labour rights, and who has affinity with the garment industry. Read more about the position of brand liaison officer.

Ideally, the candidate would start on 1 December 2016; the contract ends on 30 April 2017. If you are interested, please send your CV with cover letter to vacancy@fairwear.org no later than 15 November 2016.

We will interview candidates in the second half of November.

date: 01/11/2016

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FWF joins Social and Labour Convergence Project

Fair Wear Foundation has recently joined the advisory group of the Social & Labour Convergence Project. By taking this step, FWF shows commitment to reducing audits through cooperation with other organisations.

Fair Wear Foundation has become a non-signatory member of the advisory group. In this manner, FWF contributes its expertise and experience on ways to include brands’ purchasing practices into assessments of labour conditions and compliance.

A two-year effort, the Social and Labour Convergence Project is seeking to develop an industry-wide, unified and effective assessment framework. The project aims to come up with one tool for the collection of data on labour conditions in textile factories.

Given the large number of audits, related costs and increasing audit fatigue, an agreement on a joint assessment framework would be a valuable step. Audits are an important diagnostic tool, but they alone will not help improve working conditions. Reducing audit costs could help direct more resources towards remediation and training to improve human rights compliance.

date: 31/10/2016

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Continental Clothing wins Best Practice Award 2016

Continental Clothing has won the FWF Best Practice Award 2016. Both the jury panel of industry experts and the audience praised the British brand for their Living Wage project in India.

In January, Continental Clothing launched a clothing line labelled FAIR SHARE. The range of T-shirts and sweatshirts carry a price premium that is directly passed to the garment workers in India to enhance their monthly wages.

Annual conference

Continental Clothing first conducted research into the wages and living conditions specific to the geographical area where the factory is located. Based on this data, a benchmark was determined for the minimum income required to provide a decent living for a typical family in the area. Continental Clothing calculated the difference between the current wages and this living wage and then converted this number into an additional amount that was needed to be paid for each garment produced at the factory.

\Mariusz Stochaj from Continental Clothing received the award during Fair Wear Foundation’s Annual Conference 2016. Over 150 FWF member companies and other FWF stakeholders gathered in The Volkshotel in Amsterdam to discuss how to Redesign the Industry, this year’s conference theme.

Three winners

The Best Practice Award ceremony is one of the conferences’ highlights. This year, the jury picked three winners: Continental Clothing, Stanley & Stella for supporting an anti-harassment committee in Bangladesh and a consortium of three brands —Vaude, Salewa and Jack Wolfskin—who facilitated a suppliers training in Myanmar. In the end, the audience voted for Continental.
To highlight the projects, and to serve as inspiration for other brands, all Best Practice winners will receive a video about their winning cases. During the conference FWF showed the video of last year’s winner, Deuter. You can watch the video here.

date: 19/10/2016

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