Making progress: Tackling gender-based violence

date: 05/10/2018

Today Fair Wear Foundation launches a new publication charting the progress on tackling gender-based violence in the garment industry.

From the submission of a draft law on the prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace in Bangladesh to participatory research on gender-based violence in Vietnamese garment factories: these and other examples are compiled in the new publication, Gender Forum: One Year Later.

FWF and its partners have had a busy year implementing country-specific action plans to prevent and address sexual harassment and gender-based violence in the garment industry. The action plans were formulated one year ago at the Gender Forum 2017 in Vietnam (view photo gallery). The event was the first of its kind in Asia. Over the course of three days, participants gained knowledge and shared their experiences with gender-based violence in the world of work. ‘Working together’ was a principal theme. While there are many underlying causes of violence and harassment in the workplace, the Gender Forum’s goal was to not only discuss its reality, but to create specific action plans. The plans and their results have been compiled into the publication.

The Forum was organised by FWF, in collaboration with the International Training Centre of the International Labour Organisation (ITCILO) and Dutch trade unions CNV Internationaal and Mondiaal FNV.  Participants hailed from six garment producing countries—Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, and Vietnam—representing non-governmental organisations, trade unions, private sector companies and government.

Download the publication here to learn more about tackling gender-based violence in the garment industry.

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We’re hiring!

date: 11/10/2018

We’re looking for a new External Relations Officer to focus on the strategy and execution of FWF’s lobby & advocacy and stakeholder management.

Roles and responsibilities will include:

  • Develop and execute a lobby and outreach strategy with the other colleagues in the External Relations team, to ensure that FWF’s work is disseminated and taken up by key industry stakeholders
  • Identify key opportunities/moments in the EU political and industry environment to share FWF’s approach and influence policy and practices
  • Manage relationships with designated international FWF stakeholders, ensuring strong relations, sharing of work, and strengthened networks
  • Coordinate the international lobby & advocacy activities within FWF’s Strategic Partnership, in conjunction with partners (Mondiaal FNV and CNV International)
  • Provide support for FWF country team colleagues on lobby strategy and execution on national or regional level
  • Represent FWF at key conferences and events, as both a participant and contributor/speaker

We are looking for someone with the following qualifications and skills:

  • Relevant university degree;
  • At least 6-8 years relevant professional experience;
  • Demonstrable human rights and/or labour rights background; Knowledge of / interest in the main labour issues in the garment industry; experience with social dialogue, (living) wages and violence against women in garment supply chains is an asset;
  • Demonstrated ability to engage with stakeholders, at different levels;
  • Strong network within Dutch and/or other European governments and one or more of the following fields:
    • (Garment and textile) trade union movement
    • (Garment and textile) industry associations
    • UN bodies (e.g. UN women, ILO, OHCHR)
    • Other relevant international bodies (e.g. OECD and EU)
    • International labour and human rights organisations
  • Knowledge of lobby & advocacy (putting / keeping issues on political and corporate agendas) with a view to tackling the structural causes of poverty and injustice and bringing about sustainable policy change
  • Good public speaking and presenting skills
  • Proven flair for dealing with complex multi-stakeholder environments;

View the full job description and requirements here.

For more information about the position, you can call Alexander Kohnstamm (+31-20-4084255). If you are interested in the role, please send your cv with cover letter to vacancy@fairwear.org no later than 31 October 2018.

 

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Top Tips for Creating Your Sustainable Wardrobe

date: 10/10/2018

Today in the Netherlands it’s ‘Dag van de Duurzaamheid’ – Day of Sustainability. Here are six top tips from Fair Wear Foundation to help you shop more sustainably for your clothes.

 

 Educate yourself


Things move fast in the fashion world, it can be hard to keep up. There are many fashion blogs you can read (such as True Fashion Collective website or Inhabitat) and documentaries you can watch to learn more about sustainability. True cost is a must-see documentary, shedding light on the people who make our clothes and the impact the fashion industry is having on our world.

 

 Check the working conditions


Have a look on the website of your favourite brand to check what they are doing to improve labour conditions for the garment workers who made their clothes. Usually you can find the information under the ‘About’ or ‘Sustainability’ pages. Fair Wear Foundation member brands are open about how their clothes are made and take substantial steps towards making a positive impact in the garment industry. We report about the brands efforts on each brand page on our website. If your favourite brand is not mentioning anything about working conditions (and is not a FWF member), ask them about it! Tweet, email, or call them up!

 

 Choose eco-friendly materials


The environmental impact of the clothing industry is largely determined by the production of chemicals. Choose natural (and therefore biodegradable) materials such as organic cotton, linen, hemp, Tencel, bamboo and wool. For material information, always check the clothing label, or the information on the product page of the brand’s website.

 

 Use the FWF Shopping List


While thrift stores and clothing swaps are brilliant ways to expand your wardrobe sustainably, it might be challenging to fill your entire wardrobe in this way. That’s where sustainable brands like FWF member brands come in. They are dedicated to supporting garment workers’ rights to safe, dignified and properly paid employment, and making fashion fair for everyone. Use them to fill the gaps in your wardrobe without sacrificing your principles! View the FWF shopping list here.

 

 Aim for quality over quantity


It’s much more satisfying to buy one beautiful 150 euro dress you can wear often for years, rather than five cheap dresses that fall apart by the end of the first day. Do as the French do: build a wardrobe of classic staples that will last for years!

 

 Get thrifty!


If you’re both eco-conscious and budget conscious, used clothes are the best option. Second-hand clothes require no new materials to produce: no extra energy, water, or toxic chemicals are added when they change hands from their previous owner. Also, keeping used clothing out of the waste stream means there’s less need for new landfills. And best of all, used clothes are generally cheaper than new (quality) clothes.

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Bangladesh raises minimum wages – is it enough?

date: 28/09/2018

The government of Bangladesh recently announced that the minimum wage for Bangladeshi garment workers will rise by 51 percent from December. FWF’s country manager for Bangladesh, Koen Oosterom, responds to the news from Dhaka, where he recently conducted a workshop on labour minute costing for factory managers and unions.

How much more will garment workers in Bangladesh receive?
The new minimum wage for grade 7 (which is the lowest grade level) has been set at 8,000 taka (82 euros) a month, up from 5,300 takas (54 euros). The minimum wage levels for the other grades have not been announced thus far.

What would you have hoped for?
Although we are happy that the minimum wage will go up, we had hoped for more. According to various living wage benchmarks, 8,000 taka is not enough for garment workers to meet their basic needs, such as food, housing, utilities, medicine, or sending their children to school.

Did you try to influence the wage negotiations?
We sent a letter to the prime minister of Bangladesh, together with the Dutch Agreement on Sustainable Garments and Textile. We urged the Bangladesh government to show leadership and ensure a fair and negotiated increase of the minimum wage and take the collective demand of workers and unions into account.

How will the increase affect workers?
We are a bit concerned that this raise has the same negative consequences as the minimum wage raise in 2013. After that raise, we encountered problems like job losses (especially for helpers), reduction in bonusses, higher targets and production pressure and workers who got downgraded. The underlying cause was that factories were often not able to negotiate an increase in the FOB prices that takes the wage rise into account properly.

What are FWF’s next steps?
We will continue working on higher wages in Bangladesh. The FWF team in Bangladesh has just conducted seminars with factory managers and unions on labour minute costing and price negotiations. At FWF we want brands to take responsibility for raising wages in factories and it was good to see that the participating factory managers wanted to learn more about what that looks like in practice.

FWF Supplier Seminar, Bangladesh, September 2018


 Did you know that the garment export industry is the biggest earner for Bangladesh, accounting for 81% of total export earnings? And it is estimated that over 7,000 factories are linked to the export market. Read more about the garment industry in Bangladesh here.

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Mammut and ODLO celebrate 10-year anniversary at FWF

date: 18/09/2018

FWF brands Mammut and ODLO are celebrating their 10 year membership at Fair Wear Foundation. Both companies adopted the FWF Code of Labour Practices early on in 2008. They had the same goal: to improve workplace conditions in the garment industry.

As one of the first FWF outdoor companies, Mammut was and still is dedicated to applying stringent standards for fair working conditions. ‘For Mammut, it is a top strategic goal to ensure that our products are manufactured in an environmentally and socially sound manner’, said Peter Hollenstein, Corporate Responsibility Manager of Mammut Sports Group AG.  ‘FWF unites committed brands under a single roof. This is essential for Mammut to cooperate with other brands and combine strengths for improving workplace conditions in global supply chains.’

Julia Krämer, ODLO’s Sustainability Manager, commented: ‘Social and environmental responsibility has been at the heart of Odlo since the company was founded over 70 years ago and we are proud of our achievements towards a more sustainable future together with our partners. FWF membership especially helps us to improve our processes and the labour conditions thanks to exchange and a great deal of teamwork with FWF and other member brands like Mammut.’

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FWF and FNV partners submit draft law on prevention sexual harassment Bangladesh

date: 12/09/2018

On 12 September 2018, FWF and FNV partner organisations joined together in Bangladesh to submit a draft law on the Prevention of Sexual Harassment at Workplace to the Honorable Minister of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, Mr Anisul Haque and to the Honorable Minister of Labor and Employment, Mr. Md. Mujibul Haque, for their approval.

This draft law was created in response to a ground-breaking 2009 Supreme Court decision requiring the prevention of sexual harassment in the worplace. Based on the court’s decision, FWF’s Workplace Education Program has been providing training to factories to effectively address and prevent gender-based violence, which includes the establishment and strengthening of internal workplace harassment committees.

The draft was developed through the efforts of the Gender Platform, which involves seven partner-organisations of FNV and FWF—Awaj Foundation, OSHE, Karmojibi Nari, BILS, BLF, BNWLA and IndustriAll/IBC and in consultation with a broadrange of stakeholders.

The prevention of gender-based violence is a key focus of Fair Wear Foundation in Bangladesh and one of the priority areas under the Strategic Partnership, implemented together with Dutch trade unions CNV and FNV.

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Myanmar delegation to India to learn about addressing sexual harassment

date: 10/09/2018

Fair Wear Foundation organised a study visit for stakeholders from Myanmar to engage with representatives in India on ways to address violence and harassment in the workplace. The goal of the trip was to introduce relevant stakeholders from Myanmar on India’s legislative framework and its application in garment factories.

In 2013 India passed legislation to prevent and address the sexual harassment of women in the workplace. Legislation includes practical measures like the obligation to deliver training on sexual harassment and the requirement that companies with more than 10 employees—including garment factories—establish an Internal Complaints Committee.

The visitors attended several insightful meetings with FWF partner organisations SAVE and Cividep, trade unions, and government officials. They took time to visit a factory where the FWF Workplace Education Programme (WEP) has been implemented. At the factory, the group gained a deeper understanding of harassment and how the Internal Complaints Committee can help protect the rights of garment workers.

Harassment-free workplaces
Participants included representatives of Parliament, International Labour Organization (ILO), Confederation of Trade Unions in Myanmar, Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association (MGMA), Gender Equality Network, Labour Rights Defender and Promoter (LRDP) and CARE Myanmar.

This trip represented one of the first times that representatives from government, the private sector, unions and NGOs gathered together to engage seriously on the issue of gender-based violence. It resulted in a strong commitment to work together to develop policies which will contribute towards harassment-free workplaces.

 

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Combined call to Bangladeshi government for wage increase

date: 09/08/2018

Fair Wear Foundation and the Dutch Agreement on Sustainable Garments and Textile wrote a combined letter to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh. In the letter, the two organisations urged the government of Bangladesh to show leadership and ensure a fair and negotiated increase of the minimum wage for the garment industry and take the collective demand of workers and unions into account.

‘Together, our business members buy hundreds of millions of dollars of products from Bangladesh,’ the letter read, ‘and many of our members have contributed significantly to the successful growth of the textile industry in your country. For Bangladesh to continue having a successful textile industry, the lives of the workers will have to improve.’  As the current minimum wage in the garment sector is BDT 5,300 (EUR 60 per month), Bangladeshi workers have one of the lowest minimum wages in the world.

Large voice
For wages to increase, the letter detailed that workers and their representatives need to be allowed to campaign for higher minimum wages without consequences. They also need their collective demands on minimum wages to be heard. In FWF’s Code of Labour Practices, the freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining is one of the eight codes member brands commit to as FWF members.

Bangladesh is one of the largest producing countries for the world’s clothing and shoes. It is also a country struggling to meet a living wage for its millions of garment factory workers. FWF believes that member brands producing in Bangladesh can have a large voice in demanding increased wages for the workers who make their clothes.

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Research on gender-based violence against garment workers in Vietnam

date: 11/07/2018

This year, FWF will be carrying out participatory research in Vietnam with a focus on identifying factors that lead to gender-based violence in garment factories. Research will be in partnership with CARE International.

The project titled ‘I am a garment worker: Survey on women’s safety and well-being in the garment sector’ began in April 2018 with a training in Hanoi, Vietnam led by FWF research consultant, Dr. Jane Pillinger. For two days, twenty participants from FWF and other NGOs learned about gender-based violence in garment factories, along with a skills training on participatory research.

The skills training allowed participants to offer feedback on what to include in the research design and in the data collection process. Stay tuned for the results of this participatory research and identified factors contributing to gender-based violence of female workers.

A large majority of women in the garment industry have faced some type of harassment or gender-based violence. Preventing gender-based violence is a primary focus of our work toward safe and healthy working conditions. For more about our efforts to reduce gender based violence, see our gender portal.

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New Vacancy: Senior Policy Coordinator

date: 06/07/2018

Fair Wear Foundation (FWF) is looking for a Senior Policy Coordinator to operationalise the FWF Code of Labour Practices among member companies.

This requires coordination with other staff members to ensure FWF’s verification systems effectively generate the results FWF seeks from members. Policy development spearheads new policies and revisions, taking into account developments within the organisation and its membership, and beyond.

Responsibilities include:

  • Coordinate the organisation’s policy work and the collection of policies, guidance and indicators that guide FWF member practices
  • Draft and revise internal policy documents (e.g. FWF’s member guide, risk policies, transparency and competition law policies)
  • Contribute to FWF’s next strategic steps, e.g. redesign of FWF’s complaints and audit systems – or other policy improvements required to respond to changes in the industrial or political environment
  • Monitor FWF policies, recommendations and guidance – from guidance documents to the Brand Performance Indicators—with an eye to cohesion and effectiveness
  • Coordinate with internal and external experts
  • Remain aware of the political, social and economic developments which impact FWF’s policies
  • Liaise with FWF members, the ‘member learning’ team, and external relations team regarding stakeholder input to FWF policies, and communicating with all stakeholders about FWF policies
  • Seek legal counsel, as needed, to address outstanding policy questions, e.g. competition law implications of FWF audit reports and brand collaboration
  • Supervise external consultants when necessary.

See the full job description here.

If you have at least 10 years of relevant work experience, we’d like to hear from you! Please send your C.V. and motivational letter to vacancy@fairwear.org, for the attention of Alexander Kohnstamm, Executive Director, before 19 August 2018.

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