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Between April 8-10, Fair Wear Foundation representative Ruth Vermeulen was in Turkey to conduct factory visits and co-organise a stakeholder meeting. The results of the trip are now published and can be downloaded in English and Turkish.
The main questions for the stakeholders included reflections on how brands and factories could work together to improve labour conditions for garment workers in the country, and how could industrial relations be improved and further developed to benefit all?
Among the 85 participants were suppliers, unions and Turkish export and manufacturer associations. More than 30 suppliers of FWF member brands were also present. They benefited from the meeting in two main ways: they obtained information about FWF, its Code of Labour Pratices and the tools the organisation uses to contribute to the improvement of working conditions in the garment industry, and they are better able to understand the needs of businesses. And this is a growing trend. Turkish suppliers are increasingly aware that Corporate Social Responsiblity (CSR) is important for their European buyers and therefore for their own business.
For Ruth, the trip was useful because, while convincing a supplier that improving labour standards and dialogue with workers or unions can be a challenge, having them sit together and learn about what drives them can make it easier to bridge the distance between their viewpoints and interests.
And it was a truly multi-stakeholder event: the Dutch trade association for fashion and textiles Modint, FNV trade union, and IndustriALL global union, as well as the multinational Inditex were all involved, together with FWF. In sum, this trip helped stress the importance of social standards for a variety of international stakeholders, including businesses.