Dutch government backs Fair Wear-led partnership for ethical garment industry

On Friday, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced support for promoting workers’ rights in the garment industry. STITCH, led by Fair Wear and made up of six organisations working on better labour conditions for garment workers, has been selected to set up a multi-year collaboration with the Ministry.

STITCH (Sustainable Textile Initiative: Together for Change) aims to create a new normal for the garment industry. ‘An industry in which fair prices and decent wages are the norm,’ explains Director Alexander Kohnstamm of Fair Wear. ‘The crisis we’re in now exposes how vulnerable garment workers are. Most of them do not earn enough to sustain their families and lack any kind of safety net. We’re delighted that the Dutch government values the work we’re doing and shares the sense of urgency to create a true breakthrough for workers’ rights.’

Higher wages

To establish a new normal, the organisations will work with key actors in the garment supply chain, such as European garment brands and trade unions in garment production countries. STITCH will work with unions and labour rights organisations on collective bargaining to influence higher wages and workplaces free from harassment.  By doing business in a responsible way, garments brands also play a crucial role in making the industry more sustainable. Therefore, the consortium considers it to be a crucial step to hold garment brands and factories accountable for their behaviour.

STITCH is led by Fair Wear. Fair Wear has joined forces with the British Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), the Center for Development and Integration in Vietnam (CDI), labour organisation Cividep India and Dutch trade unions CNV Internationaal and Mondiaal FNV.

All six organisations have been working on better labour conditions for years. Fair Wear, CNV Internationaal and Mondiaal FNV have been in a partnership since 2016. By adding three more influential organisations – with two of them based in garment production countries – the partnership expects to expand its impact throughout the industry.

Photo by Maarten Schuth for CNV Internationaal