Lobby & Advocacy

Lobbying policy- and decision- makers in both market as well as production countries enables Fair Wear to advance long term systemic change towards safe, dignified, and properly paid work within the garment industry.

Using our extensive knowledge, practical experience and broad network, we aim to contribute to the development of an international policy and legal environment that incentivises responsible business practices and promotes freedom of association for garment workers in their respective countries. We envision a smart mix/ regulatory framework that enables workers’ rights and aligns with UNGPs and OECD guidelines. 

Fair Wear’s approach to lobbying and advocacy 

As a multi-stakeholder initiative – governed by industry associations, trade unions, and (labour) NGOs and working with member brands – we have a unique position to include the perspectives from both production and market countries in effective conversations around proposed policies at crucial levels. Given the globally interwoven working relationships within the garment supply chain, we engage with policy- and decision-makers at a state level in production and market countries, and on a supranational level mainly at the EU. 

Lobbying and advocacy in producing countries 

Workers’ rights are at the centre of our work. However, their voices too often remain unheard due to the limited freedom of association and the restricted right to collective bargaining in garment-producing countries. 

That’s why our teams in producing countries together with local stakeholders, advocate for legal frameworks encouraging workers to organise and assert their rights. As part of multi-stakeholder structures (MSS) that comprise all critical parties of the industry, we aim to influence policy development and the proper implementation of laws. 

Additionally, we work with stakeholders, among which business associations to ensure their guidelines and policies are enabling human rights in producing countries.  

A recent success of our lobbying and advocacy efforts was the passage of the Sexual Harassment Act in Indonesia in April 2022. It came about after consultations within the gender network platform and their engagement with relevant ministries and business associations.   

Lobbying and advocacy in European market countries 

In our market-country lobby and advocacy work, we focus on the need to have meaningful human rights due diligence legislation and primarily aim to influence relevant policy and legislation developments on EU level as they are likely to affect companies trading within and outside of the EU (so-called ‘Brussels effect’).   

Our member companies are crucial actors in this context. They provide evidence that responsible business conduct can be economically viable even for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). This invalidates the widespread presumption that only large enterprises can afford to carry out human rights due diligence. With 95% of the garment industry comprising SMEs, their consideration in policy and legal work is necessary to create meaningful impact for workers and to shape a level-playing field for the business leaders within this space. 

An enormous power imbalance furthermore characterises the garment industry. To change that through our advocacy efforts, we also include supplier and worker perspectives beyond brands. Given the close connection of organised suppliers and trade unions to the workers and a deeper understanding of their challenges, their input is invaluable in assessing the likely outcome of any proposed legislation in market countries. 

Here are some of our positions, statements, letters, and reactions to diverse policy proposals: 

Overarching:

Position on the smart mix

EU Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive:

Joint call upon the European Parliament to develop effective mHRDD

Position within STITCH Partnership

Joint position with ETI

EU Textile Strategy:

Joint position with Fair Trade International, ETI, and Solidaridad

German Supply Chain Act/ Lieferkettensorgfaltspflichtengesetz

Joint statement with Solidaridad and ETI (in German)

Competition Law

Joint position with AIM and Fair Trade Advocacy Office