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FWF’s new director Alexander Kohnstamm just returned from his first FWF trip in Asia. Alexander visited Bangladesh and India, two of FWF’s most important garment production countries.
Alexander’s first stop was Dhaka, Bangladesh. The purpose of this mission, which took place from 31 March to 4 April, was to meet relevant stakeholders and partner organisations and get a sense of the labour conditions in the garment sector, both formal and informal.
Breaking the silence
The mission was conducted jointly with Catelene Passchier, vice-chair of the governing body of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). Catelene and Alexander presented the Dutch Ambassador in Bangladesh with Breaking the Silence, a new FWF publication on the violence and harassment prevention programme in Bangladesh and India.
During the trip, Alexander joined an audit and met members of a factory’s anti-harassment committee. He also visited stakeholders including the ILO, IndustriALL, the Ministry of Labour and Employment and the Bangladesh Accord. The meetings generated interesting discussions on the new legal minimum wage level, pricing policies of brands and the threshold for union registration.
Alexander continued on to India, visiting stakeholders and factories and gaining a good first impression of the FWF work in the region. ‘Fair Wear brands and the factories they work with, have made good progress’, he said. ‘At the same time, there is room for improvement, for example in making sure that workers have access to free labour unions and receive a living wage.’