The Times they are a Changin’: FWF’s Annual conference 2018 has kicked off

date: 15/11/2018

FWF’s Annual Conference 2018 has started. Together with over 200 people from around the globe, FWF will reflect on this year’s theme: The Times they are a Changin’.

The conference on 20 November serves as a call to action: it’s time for a true revolution in the garment industry, and change should start today. The good news is that anyone can join, through our livestream.

 

In De Hallen Studio’s FWF has brought together representatives of member brands, garment industry stakeholders, media and industry influencers, and members of FWF’s staff, Committee of Experts and Board of Directors.

Dutch minister Sigrid Kaag will deliver the opening speech and key note speaker Safia Minney will talk about creating a true fashion revolution. CEOs from within and outside the garment sector will jointly reflect on what is holding us back from creating real FAIR WEAR and share their vision on a sustainable fair garment industry.

The Annual Conference will wrap up with the FWF’s Annual Award Show, where we will present the 2018 FWF Inspiration Award. Stay tuned on Twitter (#FWF18) and Facebook to follow the action and find out who wins this year’s Inspiration Award!

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FWF urges brands to support factories BD after Bangladeshi garment workers go on strike

date: 17/01/2019

Thousands of garment workers in Bangladesh have violently clashed with police over low wages. The protests focus on the level of the new minimum wage. FWF urges its brands to contact and support their suppliers in Bangladesh.

The new minimum wage is much lower than what garment workers in Bangladesh demanded. Also, the protests focus on what many consider to be discriminatory elements of the new wage law. The basic wages for the higher pay grades did not increase proportionally to those of the lowest grade (grade 7).

Negotiations
In response to this, and after eight days of labour unrest, on 13 January 2019 the government announced a revised pay structure for the garment sector, with a slight increase in both basic and gross wages in six of the seven grades. This outcome is a result of negotiations in a tripartite committee, which included representation of workers, owners and government. Union representatives indicated that they welcome the revision and urged workers to return to work, amid fears of arrest and termination of jobs.

Fair Wear Foundation believes it’s important that FWF member brands sourcing in Bangladesh contact their suppliers to express concern. ‘They need to ascertain what the situation in the factory is’, says FWF’s country manager for Bangladesh, Koen Oosterom, ‘and urge factory managers to take the necessary action to avoid escalation of worker unrest. This unrest could arise, for example, by delaying payment of wages as per the new minimum wage law, by degrading workers to lower grade levels, making deductions on non-statutory wage elements such as bonuses, withholding or delaying overtime remuneration, or increasing targets to avoid paying productivity bonuses.’

Adjusting prices
With the higher cost of labour comes the responsibility for brands to revisit their pricing levels. That is why FWF has asked its brands to reassure factory management that they will assume their own responsibility for the higher minimum wage. Koen Oosterom: ‘They need to motivate the factory management to implement the new minimum wage structure by assuring them that they will adjust prices accordingly and timely as required. ‘

Using the FWF Labour Minute Calculator, brands and factories can identify the increase in the manufacturing price of garments required to cover the higher costs of labour due to the minimum wage rise. This calculator, which is adjusted to reflect the 13 January 2019 adjustments, enables suppliers and buyers to determine the cost of one minute of labour in a factory and makes components such as bonuses and insurance visible.

Why is this so important for the people of Bangladesh? The garment export industry is the biggest earner for Bangladesh, accounting for 81% of total export earnings. It is estimated that over 7,000 factories are linked to the export market. You can read more about the garment industry in Bangladesh here.

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Happy Holidays!

date: 21/12/2018

The FWF team would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a happy new year!

With Christmas and New Year’s eve on the way, FWF will have limited office opening hours:
– On Monday 24 December, Tuesday 25 December and Wednesday 26 December the office will be closed.
– On Thursday 27 December and Friday 28 December the office is open.
– Monday 31 December and Tuesday 1 January 2019 the office is closed.
– From 2 January 2019 everything will be back to normal.

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We’re hiring!

date: 11/12/2018

We are currently looking for a Financial Controller to join our Support Team, which renders finance, personnel administration, HRM, office management and IT services. 

The Controller will be responsible for:

  • Project control and administration, including budgeting, reporting, auditing and liquidity planning.
  • Preparing the organisational budget and annual accounts, together with the Head of Finance.
  • Assisting teams with their budgeting, preparing budget and expenditure overviews for the teams and discussing those with the team representatives.
  • Managing the correctness and completeness of the financial administration including the validation of invoices.
  • Checking the hour registration and maintaining the hour registration system.
  • The VAT administration.
  • Actively contributing to further development and improvement of the financial systems at FWF.

We are looking for a new colleague with the following qualifications and skills:

  • Minimum bachelors degree in financial administration.
  • At least 5 years experience in financial project control and reporting within the non-profit sector.
  • Good working knowledge of AFAS and Excel; knowledge of setting up administrations in AFAS is an advantage.
  • Good communication skills in Dutch and English.
  • Strong, flexible, team player with the ability to manage challenging tasks independently, and able to cope with deadlines.
  • Enthusiastic, respectful, culturally sensitive and sound work ethics.

We offer:

  • A challenging job with a wide variety of responsibilities in an international, dynamic, self-organising environment.
  • A one-year contract (possibility to extend, contingent on funding).
  • Workplace at the World Fashion Centre in Amsterdam

Please visit www.fairwear.org for more information about our organisation. For more information about the position, you can call Maureen Brouwer or Susanne van den Berg (+31-20-4084255).

We offer a salary in accordance with the Dutch government remuneration system (BBRA) scale 11 (€ 3130 – € 4809), depending on relevant experience.

If you are interested in this vacancy, please send your CV with cover letter to vacancy@fairwear.org no later than 10 February 2019. Suitable candidates might be invited for an interview before the deadline.

Recruitment agencies are asked to refrain from approaching Fair Wear Foundation about this or any other vacancy.

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New findings on reducing violence in the workplace

date: 11/12/2018

In the new report titled ‘Climbing the Ladder: Supervisory Skill Building Programme’, three-years of data collection has concluded that supervisory skills trainings are a successful way to reduce violence and harassment in the workplace over time.

As a main finding, training female and male supervisors in garment factories led to a reduction in violence and harassment as found in the participating factories. Female workers reported not only being better able to stand up for their rights, but also improved job satisfaction and factory functioning due to the improved morale on the work floor.

Specifically in India, 60-70% of garment workers are still women. Men inhabit almost all supervisory roles. In an effort to address this inequality, the FWF Supervisory Skills Training was given in 18 garment factories in South India during 2014 to 2017. Women were given an educational opportunity to gain confidence and move into supervisory roles. All participants, men and women alike, were educated to identify situations of violence and harassment in their workplaces.

 To read more about the significant results of this training programme, see our report here.

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FWF and partners on a mission to Indonesia

date: 29/11/2018

Fair Wear Foundation, Mondiaal FNV and CNV Internationaal are on a joint mission to Indonesia. All three organisations are active in this country where the manufacturing sector generates around a fifth of the country’s GDP.

The three organisations that together form the Strategic Partnership for Garment Supply Chain Transformation with the Dutch ministry of Foreign Affairs, are spending a week in Indonesia.

Women’s Post
The first stop was Jakarta. FWF Executive Director Alexander Kohnstamm, Mondiaal FNV Director Karen Brouwer and her colleague Marijn Peperkamp visited the KBN industrial zone, the first gender-based violence free zone in Indonesia that was established after a long struggle by local unions.

The Women’s Post is part of the GBV free zone. No less than 50 volunteers monitor the post on a daily basis. Female workers can complain here about sexual harassment in their working environments as over 50% of female garment workers in Indonesia have experienced sexual harassment, yet less than 5% of the cases have been reported.

ILO convention
As their mission continued in Jakarta, the Dutch delegation attended a joint seminar on combating sexual violence and gender discrimination in the world of work. FNV called upon the 100+ enthusiastic women at the seminar to put pressure on employers to get their support for a new ILO convention by saying, ‘Your actions are important. We will support you!’

 

 

 

In reflection, the trio shared their surprise about how open sensitive issues were discussed, such as the position of the LGBT community. Alexander Kohnstamm applauded the bravery of members of these communities in saying, ‘It takes great courage to stand on that platform and speak out!’

Vulnerable groups
Roel Rotshuizen, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of CNV Internationaal, was also present at the seminar. He emphasised that ‘it is important to involve men too in the fight against sexual harassment on the work floor’.

Sexual harassment most commonly affects vulnerable groups, such as domestic workers, female workers and folks of the LGBT community. In May 2019, the ILO will discuss a new convention to combat discrimination and sexual violence in the work place as over 55% of women in the Indonesian garment sector have experienced sexual harassment of some sort.

–> FWF & violence prevention
Gender equality and practical violence prevention is central to Fair Wear Foundation’s work. FWF has a strong commitment to work with all relevant stakeholders to end violence against women and men in the garment sector. We have implemented innovative violence-prevention programmes in garment-producing countries around the world. Read more on FWF’s Gender Portal.

Related

country: indonesia
Labour standards:

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Labour Minute Calculator for Bangladesh now online

date: 29/11/2018

FWF is proud to introduce its new Labour Minute Calculator for Bangladesh. The Calculator enables suppliers and buyers to determine the cost of one minute of labour in a factory.

Bangladesh recently approved a 51-percent increase (for Grade 7) in the statutory minimum wage. With the higher cost of labour comes the responsibility for brands to revisit their pricing levels. The Labour Minute Calculator enables suppliers and buyers to determine the cost of one minute of labour in a factory and makes components such as bonuses and insurance visible.

The new FWF tool offers enough flexibility to accommodate for exchange rate fluctuations and real overtime hours.

Higher costs
With the Calculator, brands and factories can identify the increase in the manufacturing price of garments required to cover the higher costs of labour due to the minimum wage rise.

The Labour Minute Calculator complements FWF’s country-specific ‘Wage Calculation sheets’, launched in Beta version earlier this year. While FWF’s new tool offers real functionality for factories seeking to adhere to legal requirements and/or living wage commitments, the Wage Calculation sheets help calculate wage increases on a worker-by-workers basis and can also be used to verify that workers receive wage increases.

Feedback!
The new FWF tool for Bangladesh was launched to coincide with the minimum wage increase in Bangladesh, but FWF intends to make the Labour Minute Calculator tool available for other production countries in the future. Moreover, the tool will be expanded to allow for the calculation of a factory’s labour minute cost based on ‘a’ living wage benchmark.

To create the best tools, we welcome feedback from stakeholders, brands and factories to make sure these instruments are as relevant as possible.

A new regulatory environment: the UN’s guiding principles on Business & Human Rights
Following the translation of the UN’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, a new set of due diligence guidelines are in place, which define due diligence as ‘the process through which enterprises can identify, prevent, mitigate, and account for how they address their actual and potential adverse impacts’ in their sourcing practices.

The OECD has provided some guidance on how such principles translate in the area of wage compliance, stating that this should include both wage compliance with national laws and ensure that wages satisfy the basic needs of workers and their families. For manufacturers, wage compliance also means covering those non-mandatory elements, which require them to retain, incentivise and reward their workforce.

Brand Performance Checks
Through our annual Brand Performance Checks, FWF assesses whether our member brands are exercising proper due diligence in their price negotiations with their vendors regarding wage compliance. However, it has become clear that brands require the cooperation of factories to perform due diligence, as buyers often do not have a full picture of their supplier’s labour costs.

Research has also found that when minimum wages increase, many garment companies do not increase their prices enough to absorb all the additional costs of production. This is why, in anticipation of the 2018 minimum wage rises in Myanmar and Bangladesh, we at FWF began researching with suppliers how to provide assistance with the development of a Costing Calculator tool that brands and factories can all use.

–> Read more about this topic in the FWF Labour Minute Costing publication and the new FWF report: Using Due Diligence in Labour Costing to meet wage compliance

Related

country: bangladesh
Labour standards:

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FWF Joint Letter on Bangladesh ACCORD

date: 26/11/2018

Fair Wear Foundation, together with other MSIs and business associations, wrote a joint letter to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh.

In the letter, the organisations urged the government of Bangladesh to show leadership to find solutions to the current challenges, to continue the ACCORD’s contributions to the development of the garment sector in Bangladesh, and to assist in the eventual role of the RCC in taking over the leadership of this work.

The organisations acknowledge the significant and substantive achievements that have been made on worker safety, such as the creation of an independent Remediation Coordination Cell (RCC) within the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE) to regulate safety in the RMG sector.

However, there is still more to be done to complete remediation at factories covered by the ACCORD. Less than half of all ACCORD-covered factories have completed the installation of adequate fire detection systems and less than 60% have completed structural retrofitting. Moreover, factories not covered by the ACCORD will place an extra additional burden on the work of the RCC that could jeopardise its success. The signatories of the letter believe that more work is needed in order to absorb the work of the ACCORD into the RCC. It is in the best interests of all parties, including the Government and RMG industry, that the RCC be provided with further opportunities and time to develop successfully.

The signatories respectfully note that there is a clear benefit for everyone. There is an advantage in Bangladesh, the global RMG industry, and with workers in local factories to continue and deepen this successful partnership that has delivered such fundamental and substantive positive change. Yet there is a fear that the safety of Bangladesh RMG workers could be compromised if an effective structure is not in place for an effective handover of responsibility.

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Haglöfs and OSC win FWF Inspiration Award!

date: 21/11/2018

FWF brands Haglöfs and OSC have won this year’s FWF Inspiration Award!

The outdoor brands won the award for jointly remediating a complaint in China together with four non-FWF brands. The submission shows that collaboration drives change. The brands said that it’s important to have large brands on board to increase leverage. ‘We worked across big and small companies and across time zones and within a short period of time’ explained Haglöfs’ Eva Mullins on stage. ‘Let’s fight the fight together!’

The complaint involved unauthorised subcontracting up to ten different subcontractors, payment issues and excessive overtime. The brands shared that workers have already benefited from the joint approach. ‘Overtime has been reduced to the legal amounts, and everyone knows now how to read their pay slips’, said Mullins.

The Times they are a Changin’
Every year, during the FWF Annual Conference, an award is presented to the FWF member company which demonstrates an Inspirational Practice: something they’ve been doing to improve labour conditions that is newer, smarter, more effective and simply inspirational.

Over 200 people from around the globe attended the FWF Annual Conference on Tuesday. Representatives of FWF member brands, garment industry stakeholders, media and industry influencers came together at De Hallen Studio’s in Amsterdam.
This year’s conference theme was ‘The Times they are a Changin’, a clear call for action. FWF believes that it is time for a true revolution in the garment industry and change should start today.

Now is the moment
Sigrid Kaag, the Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation of the Netherlands, opened the conference. She applauded FWF for taking leadership and commended the collective power in the room. She referred to Universal Children’ Day and FWF’s theme of the day. ‘We have failed the 150 million children that are currently working. We have a shared responsibility to fix this. Now is the moment.’

Founder of People Tree, Safia Minney, also referred in her keynote speech to FWF’s theme: ‘We are running out of time, we have to make a huge shift in the next 2-3 years’, she said. Safia gave examples of how People Tree builds the bridge between the supply chain and consumers, using celebrities and influencers, and telling the real story of the products they produce. She also touched on the need for governments to enforce laws to create a level playing field.

Real FAIR WEAR
The conference also featured a CEO panel. CEOs from within and outside the garment sector reflected on what is holding us back from creating real FAIR WEAR and shared their vision on a sustainable fair garment industry. ‘Consumers are hungry for information’ said CEO Tony Tonnaer of Kings of Indigo. ‘We need to tap into this to create awareness. And brands need to be completely transparent, even if you aren’t perfect, you need to be open about everything.’

Collaboration was not only a key feature of the winning pitch for the Inspiration Award. It was also extensively discussed during the CEO panel: ‘If you’re a small brand and only have 5% share of a factory’s production, you can’t achieve that much. So we need to work together with other brands to scale up our collective impact,’ said Christian Schneidermeier from German outdoor brand ORTOVOX.

Weekend
Ortovox was also nominated for FWF’s Annual Award Show, one of the conference highlights. The German outdoor brand got nominated for breaking the six-day working week norm in Asia, giving the weekend back to their workers. They did this in close cooperation with a factory manager.
The other brand nominated was German outdoor brand Vaude for developing and implementing a consistent monitoring system throughout their whole supply chain.

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Textilbündnis and FWF join forces

date: 31/10/2018

Fair Wear Foundation and the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles are joining forces to promote the payment of living wages and fair working conditions in the garment industry. Both initiatives signed an agreement on Wednesday in Berlin.

The Partnership for Sustainable Textiles (‘Textilbündnis’) and FWF will work together on access to remedy and grievance mechanisms and promoting the payment of living wages. Both initiatives share the view that solving the existing challenges in the sector requires a systematic approach and the cooperation of all relevant stakeholders.

The organisations will conduct joint trainings on responsible business and purchasing practices for garment companies and will offer supplier trainings in productions countries. Members of both initiatives shall benefit from mutual exchange of knowledge and coordination of supporting activities.

Jürgen Janssen, Head of the Textiles Partnership Secretariat said he hopes to ‘achieve greater leverage’ by cooperating with Fair Wear Foundation. FWF director Alexander Kohnstamm adds: ‘Transforming working conditions for people in the garment industry is an ambitious goal, and we can’t achieve it alone. By combining our efforts, we can push for unified change.’

The German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development initiated the Textilbündnis in 2014. The partnership consists of companies, business associations, NGOs, trade unions, standards organisations and the Federal German Government. Together, the Partnership members strive to achieve social, ecological and economic improvements in garment supply chains.

 

 Mark Held, Interim Chair of the FWF Board of Directors, representing FWF at Textilbündnis member day, 30 October 2018.

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