Fair Wear Annual Report 2020: A year of transition

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 brought about unique and difficult challenges for the garment industry. Want to know how – despite these challenges – we worked to protect the health and livelihoods of garments workers and our staff? The Fair Wear Annual Report 2020 has just been published.

The spread of COVID-19 created global challenges as businesses struggled to stay afloat. The pandemic has emphasised the garment industry’s fault lines, the lack of stability and safety nets for factory workers, which so many of us in European market countries take for granted. It has heightened the need to join forces for sustainable change.

Our shared industry efforts to protect workers in this crisis have built stronger relationships and opened the door for more collaboration.

2020 marked a year of transition for Fair Wear: the end of one Strategic Partnership and the dawn of the next. In this light we reflect on the past five years as we conclude our Strategic Partnership for Garment Supply Chain Transformation with our partners CNV Internationaal, Mondiaal FNV, and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This partnership has forged connections and helped amplify the voices of workers and trade unions.

We have pushed for more and better regulation for workers, including the successful adoption of the International Labour Organization Convention on Violence and Harassment in the Workplace. We have adopted a cross-cutting approach for gender equality and emphasised better wages and social dialogue as building blocks for change.

The movement for change is there and the rallying cry for fairer clothing grows stronger. Now, we look forward to the start of a new strategic partnership. STITCH—Sustainable Textile Initiative: Together for Change—will pick up where we left off, continuing the journey toward a new normal in the garment industry. STITCH brings us into close partnership with British Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), the Center for Development and Integration in Vietnam (CDI), labour rights organisation Cividep India and, continuing from the previous partnership, Dutch trade unions CNV Internationaal and Mondiaal FNV. With a new Theory of Change that focuses even more on collaboration and alignment to strengthen the position of workers within the global garment supply chains.

2020 Was a year of unprecedented crisis and challenges for everyone in the supply chain, but we look toward 2021 on this note of optimism. While the pandemic is far from over, we are confident of our path toward a new normal for garment workers, with a united front and a shared vision for change.