The garment, textile and footwear industry, sometimes also referred to as the fashion industry, represented a 2.1 trillion-euro market with an annual growth rate of 3-5% in 2017 (Clean Clothes Campaign). Despite a sharp drop in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it was already on track to regain 96 to 101 percent of its size by 2021 with a predicted growth of 3 to 8 percent from 2019 numbers by 2022 (McKinsey) This sector refers to the design, cutting and sewing of garment or footwear from fabric, establishing a process whereby raw material is transformed to wearable garments. This includes processes of dyeing, and the production of fabrics such as cotton, silk, polyester, linen, leather, wool, acrylic or nylon (TextileValueChain). As highlighted by the Clean Clothes Campaign, the garment industry is highly decentralised and heavily relies on outsourcing, “involving manufacturing facilities across the world, but 60% of the global production still comes from Asia”. In 2021, China, Bangladesh and Vietnam topped market exports for the sector (Trade Map).
The garment industry operates on a model of buyer-driven apparel value chain, which contains three types of lead firms: retailers, marketers and branded manufacturers. With the globalisation of apparel production, competition between the leading firms in the industry has intensified as each company has developed extensive global sourcing capabilities (UNIDO). This model has placed in precarity the global sourcing of apparel and resulted in the use of pricing strategies that harm the viability of suppliers’ businesses, which was further exposed and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic (Clean Clothes Campaign). “As a consequence, the suppliers cut corners on wages, safety, and other compliance-related costs; and they convey the price pressure to lower tiers in the value chain” (Clean Clothes Campaign).+ Read more
The garment, textile and footwear industry received increased scrutiny following the Rana Plaza tragedy in 2013, in which 1,132 garment workers died due to a building collapse (International Labour Organization). The building housed five apparel factories and concerns regarding the safety of the working environment had been raised in relation to these businesses. One other example is the 2012 fire at Ali Enterprises in Karachi, Pakistan, which killed at least 255 workers and injured more than 100. These examples are some of the more notorious human rights violations prevalent in the garment, textile and footwear sector, however, a number of other human rights issues have been investigated and detailed by civil society organisations, multilateral organisations, states and the international human rights system. One such example is the recommendation given by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in the context of Bangladesh “(c) Regulate and monitor the working conditions of women employed in the garment sector, in order to protect them from unsafe labour conditions, through regular inspections and increased fines for abusive employers”.
In the following sections, a variety of human rights and environmental issues will be discussed as they pertain to the garment industry:
- Forced labour
- Labour conditions
- Fast fashion (structural issues)
- Pollution/climate impact
- Business initiatives focus
Women make up for approximately 80% of the workforce in the garment industry, globally (Clean Clothes Campaign). Moreover, 80% of the apparel worldwide is made by young women between the age of 18 and 24 (Remake). Women and girls’ overrepresentation in low-skilled position over the garment industry’s supply chain entails several gender-specific discriminations including gender-based violence, a significant gender pay gap, a lack of social benefits related to maternity leave or job precarity for migrant women workers.
Women in the garment industry tend to experience contractual discrimination, resulting in poor labour conditions, a lack of social benefits and job precarity. As BetterWork explains, “women tend to be concentrated in certain low-paying, low-skilled sectors such as the garment industry (…) and are often stuck in lower paying occupations such as sewing machine operators and helpers”, with poor prospects for promotion. Moreover, the report of the German Institute for Human Rights emphasises how although women are granted maternity benefits based on law, employers often make them resign “in order to avoid the cost of paid maternity leave”, and notes that employers contract young and unmarried girls because they can be paid low salaries. Throughout evaluations conducted in 10 Asian garment producing countries, the German Institute found that wages for men were consistently higher than those of women, even if the significance of this gap varied across countries.
Migrant women experience specific vulnerabilities when working in the garment industry. Indeed, the German Institute found that “while systematic data is not available, it is estimated that women (…) with an irregular status are particularly exposed to certain forms of forced labour; their passports may be withheld by employers, recruitment agencies or labour brokers”. Furthermore, the report shows that in many cases public authorities collaborate with such measures, for example by requiring pregnancy tests for work permits, which are shown to the employer. Consequently, many women may seek dangerous abortions to remain employed.
According to the International Labour Organization (ILO) 40.3 million people are in modern slavery, which includes those in forced and bonded labour, child labour, victims of human trafficking and those subjected to domestic servitude and forced marriages. It is not confined to some countries or sectors, it is a universal issue, and occurs both behind closed doors and in plain sight. The Walk Free Foundation’s 2018 Global Slavery Index categorised garments as one of the top five products imported into the United States at risk of having implied forced labor.
According to the University of Berkeley, the main sources of forced labour in the apparel industry are debt bondage, human trafficking and state-imposed forced labour. An International Labour Organization (ILO) estimate reported that about half of the victims of forced labour are subject to debt bondage, a proportion even higher (70%) in the manufacturing sector, including the garment industry.
Issues of forced labor in the garment industry often arise from a strong pressure to keep costs as low as possible. According to the German Institute, “issues of forced labour and human trafficking frequently arise early in the supply chain, at the raw materials level, such as in connection with cotton production in India or Pakistan, and they extend to the manufacturing stages of garment and textile production”. By means of example, End Uyghur Forced Labour outlines the importance of the Uyghur region regarding the world’s cotton output (more than 20%) and ties it to China being the largest exporter of fabric and garment in the world, some of which is manufactured in the Uyghur region. Thus, it claims that “Uyghurs are also forcibly transferred from the Uyghur Region to work in factories, including in textile manufacturing, in wider China. This means that at least 1 in 5 cotton garments in the global apparel market are at risk of being tainted with Uyghur forced labour, which creates a significant risk of regulatory and ethical violations by the fashion industry”.
Child labour is widespread across the garment supply chain. During the cotton harvest in Uzbekistan, over a million children would temporarily miss school to help picking cotton in difficult working conditions (European Commission). As the German Institute highlights, “from the employer’s point of view, child labour saves labour costs, because children are paid lower wages. From the parents’ perspective, it may make more sense to send a child to work rather than to school, particularly if schooling is of poor quality and involves additional costs”.
The textile industry performs poorly in terms of labour conditions, especially in relation to work safety, social protection, informality and wages in general. In the ten biggest garment producing countries in Asia, none have ratified the ILO’s Social Security Convention No. 102 (ILO), which addresses work-related social protection, including, inter alia, maternity benefits, sick leave and work-related injuries. As detailed by the German Institute, there is a lack of enforcement of such protections even in countries where domestic provisions match the contents of the Convention. Informality is estimated to touch 50 to 80% of the workforce in the garment value chain (BSR). This results in pressing issues, including on the rules governing sick leave, discrimination against pregnant workers (as detailed in the gender part) and the lack of remedies for work-related injuries.
Work safety in the garment industry is insufficiently monitored due to rapid growth of the industry and poor enforcement of safety regulations in many countries. According to the German Institute, this includes “insufficient emergency escape routes. Factory fires alone killed almost 500 workers in Bangladesh between 2006 and 2010. As their work typically takes place in closed environments, employees suffer from fine-dust pollution, which has well-documented negative health effects.” Moreover, it states that employment contracts are a requirement for injury-related compensation, however due to high informality those are usually non-existent. . A salient example of poor work safety is the Rana Plaza collapse in 2013, killing 1,132 people and injuring more than 2,500 (ILO).
Finally, the wages in the overall garment industry “leave a family below the national poverty line” according to Labour Behind the Label. Indeed, it claims that “Asian floor wage figures for 2015 show that the minimum wages introduced in some garment producing countries do not amount to living wages. For instance, in Bangladesh the minimum wage in the garment sector was about EUR 50 in 2015, covering approximately 18 per cent of all expenses necessary to fulfil a person’s basic needs”. The IndustriALL Global Union Alliance launched a special report in November 2020 addressing the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on garment sector workers and calling for sector-wide regulation based on a union-government-industry tripartite model.
Fast fashion (structural issues)
The term ‘fast fashion’ refers to “cheaply produced and priced garments that copy the latest catwalk styles and get pumped quickly through stores in order to maximise on current trends”. Originally coined by the New York Times in reference to Zara’s mission for a lead time of 15 days, in which a design would cycle through to being sold in stores within that time period. Businesses known for ‘fast fashion’ include Zara, UNIQLO, Forever 21 and H&M. As stated by Earth.Org, in 2012, Zara’s lead time was two weeks: Forever 21 in 6 weeks and H&M and 8 weeks. The implications thereof on the production of waste, as well as the labor conditions predicated on local manufacturers have garnered significant attention by environmental and human rights activists. “Many fashion brands, retailers and e-tailers use their market power to impose unfair business deals on their suppliers and fail to perform due diligence with regard to their purchasing practices. As a consequence, the suppliers cut corners on wages, safety, and other compliance-related costs; and they convey the price pressure to lower tiers in the value chain. Profit-maximising purchasing practices have the following structural characteristics: unstable relationships between buyers and suppliers; a profit squeeze through falling unit prices; and pressure through lead times and delivery schedules.” (Clean Clothes Campaign)
The emergence of the term fast fashion has now become analogous to discussions regarding environmental consciousness in the retail industry, as well as concerns regarding safe working conditions, forced and child labour (Earth.Org). As will be discussed below, the societal and environmental problems posed by the fast fashion industry are concerning.
One such example, given by the Labour Behind the Label, is Boohoo, a brand that has been “regularly accused of driving prices down through directly setting suppliers into competition with each other”. As a result, in order to cut costs and stay competitive in the garment supply chain, suppliers keep their wages illegally low, force overtime and have irregular hours. “The fast fashion model used by Boohoo and many other brands – of short and often small batch orders with a fast turnaround – encourages unauthorised subcontracting in order to meet low prices, fast production times and volumes needed, and also encourages the exploitation of workers and noncompliance in terms of working conditions and standards.”
The United Nations Environmental Programme estimates that the fashion industry produces between 2-8% of global carbon emissions, with textile dyeing being the second biggest polluter of water globally. The garment industry is the second largest consumer industry of water, requiring about 700 gallons of water to produce a cotton shirt and 2000 gallons of water to produce a pair of jeans. Coupled with the vast quantity of waste created by the average consumer (37kg each year) and the consumption of 800 billion new pieces of clothing every year, the impacts on the environment are trenchant (UNEP). The apparel and footwear industries generated between 5-10% of global pollution impacts in 2016, according to a report by Quantis International. More specifically, “the energy-intensive processes in the dyeing and finishing are the primary drivers of the global apparel industry’s total climate change impact” and with this set to steadily rise between 2020 and 2030, a business-as-usual approach to the garment and fashion industry will be increasingly detrimental to the environment.
Companies have launched several voluntary initiatives of corporate self-regulation such as certification schemes, labels, social audits and multi-stakeholder initiatives, especially since the collapse of the Rana Plaza. A prominent example if the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety which developed a standard for fire and electrical safety through inspections in order to improve worker safety. Moreover, the Alliance has launched a hotline through which workers can anonymously raise safety concerns. Another voluntary measure on which BSR shed light is the Myanmar Garment Manufacturing Association, which “created a voluntary Code of Conduct for its members, which include nearly all garment manufacturers in the country (around 350). The MGMA’s four-year Plan of Action includes the objective of complete social compliance as a baseline for members, with a minimum working age of 15”. The Sustainable Apparel Coalition is a “multi-stakeholder alliance for the fashion industry made up of over 250 brands, retailers, suppliers, service providers, trade associations, non-profits, NGOs, and academic institutions working to reduce environmental impact and promote social justice throughout the global value chain.” Finally, labels such as the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) also play a role in safeguarding minimum social and ecological standards in the apparel industry. For example, the GOTS takes into account the UNGPs and mentions the strict prohibition of child labour.
As highlighted by the German Institute, if voluntary initiatives are a step forward, they need to “address root causes for human rights abuses more vigorously rather than only their symptoms. To achieve this, companies must recognise and use their own sphere of influence. A small but growing number of businesses are demonstrating an awareness that some of the root causes for human rights abuses lie in their own decisions”. At international level, the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains in the Garment & Footwear Sector stands as a framework of reference that “helps enterprises implement the due diligence recommendations contained in the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises along the garment and footwear supply chain in order to avoid and address the potential negative impacts of their activities and supply chains”.
Access to remedy for victims of human rights abuses within the garment industry remains an exception, as noted by the German Institute. The lack of attention to binding regulatory efforts both by state entities and corporations continue to place the garment industry in a position in which it is susceptible to human rights abuses, as reported by the German Institute for Human Rights: “The garment industry is […] one with a rather poor human rights track record. Employment opportunities are of limited value if structural forces systematically inhibit socio-economic development, female emancipation and empowerment. Personnel in production plants and farm workers in the cotton fields work under very difficult conditions and for low wages. While global trade has certainly increased economic output at the macro level, individuals at the bottom of the production pyramid – such as those working in the garment industry in Asia-Pacific region – have still benefited too little from economic globalization.”
Access to remedy for individuals within the apparel industry is characterised by three obstacles: firstly, the tendency for weak governance structures in production countries resulting in a high degree of judicial corruption, limited resources for investigation, and outdated criminal codes; secondly, the challenges associated with transnational litigation due to indistinct supply chains and sourcing models; and thirdly, ineffective non-judicial state-based grievance mechanisms such as the OECD National Contact Points which do not provide timely remedy due to impartiality, lack of adequate transparency and inaccessibility to rightsholders. The report by the German Institute provides a human rights analysis of the fashion industry, in which it notes that “rights-holders affected by human rights abuses in the garment industry are often de facto excluded from access to justice, even when they would have a legitimate claim against company”.
Links to other relevant globalnaps pages:
What National Action Plans say on Garment, Textile and Footwear Sector
Encourages international framework agreements
Federal Government Action:
The Belgian NCP had issued recommendations for all companies active in the textile sector. – page 30
Strengthen and monitor respect for human rights in public procurement
Federal Government Action:
The Sustainable Public Procurement working group of the Interdepartmental Commission for Sustainable Development will examine how to strengthen and optimize the integration of respect for human rights in the procurement policy of the Public Authority. To this end, in consultation with the Public Procurement Committee and the main stakeholders concerned, including the sector-specific business federations, the working group will formulate a series of proposals with a particular focus on risk sectors such as clothing, the extractive industry, etc. – Page 39
Pilot projects are being set up in which the policy areas “Employment and Social Economy” and “Chancellery and Public Governance”, in cooperation with the purchasers of the various contracting authorities, will check the credibility of the supporting documents (concerning respect for human rights, etc.) and compliance with the basic ILO conventions. This is necessary in order to verify that the human rights criteria included in the special specifications are actually respected. In this respect, the Flemish Authority will focus primarily on the purchase of textile products. – page 41
Encouraging responsible supply chain management with a sector-specific approach
Following several accidents and tragedies in Bangladeshi garment factories, notably the one that occurred in April 2013 in the Rana Plaza building housing a complex of garment factories in Bangladesh, the NCP initiated a series of consultations and interviews with different stakeholders in the Belgian garment sector. As a result, it was decided at the OECD level to produce a due diligence guide for the garment and footwear sector. – page 57
The Chilean NAP does not make a direct reference to the Garment sector.
The Colombian NAP does not make a direct reference to the Garment sector.
The Czech NAP does not make a direct reference to the Garment sector.
The disaster in Bangladesh in April 2013 where a collapse of an eight-story building caused the death of more than 1.100 workers sewing clothes for western manufacturing companies was a dark reminder that huge challenges still remain. – page 6
2. The state duty to protect human rights
2.3 Actions taken
The Guiding Principles have proved to be an excellent instrument in rallying stakeholders for joint action. Using the Guiding Principles as the basis for a new Partnership for Responsible Garments Production in Bangladesh, the Danish government, business associations and enterprises have agreed on a number of detailed commitments to improve conditions within their sphere of influence. The partnership, which was agreed within the framework of the Danish Ethical Trading Initiative (DIEH), will be implemented in close co-ordination with international partners as well and stakeholders in Bangladesh. – page 11
Appendix 1: Overview of the implementation of the state duty to protect
GP3c: Whenever necessary, the government also initiates and drives multi-stakeholder partnerships based on the Guiding Principles. This year the government established the partnership for Responsible Garments Production in Bangladesh, gathering all the major Danish stakeholders with- in the industry and linking the partnership up with international public and private partners to achieve joint action. – page 27
3. Expectations towards companies and support services
3.2 Clarification of due diligence
As the consultation events organized by the working group, it was suggested that a new statutory obligation on due diligence should be established for companies when implementing the UN principles on a national level.
As a follow-up measure, the working group proposes that:
Companies, NGOs and other key stakeholders are invited to a roundtable discussion by branch of activity. For example, the discussion could begin with the forest industry, the consumer goods trade and textile industry. With the discussions, an attempt shall be made to create a dialogue amongst various stakeholders and to establish the essential risks for each branch of activity. – page 26
THE INTERNATIONAL FRAMEWORK
3. THE ORGANISATION FOR ECONOMIC CO-OPERATION AND DEVELOPMENT (OECD)
France finances actions supporting the implementation of the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas. It is also very active in the working group developing a guide for the textile industry, following the recommendations of its NCP in this field. – page 14
15. ECONOMIC SECTORS AND HUMAN RIGHTS
Not only must the authorities promote and raise awareness of CSR standards, they must also require extra vigilance with respect to high-risk economic sectors, geographic areas and products.
PROPOSAL FOR ACTION NO.7
– Capitalize on the observations in the French NCP’s report on the textile and garment sector and begin promoting and adapting these recommendations so they can be enforced in all sectors. – page 32
The textile and garment sector
Following the collapse of the Rana Plaza textile factory in Bangladesh in April 2013, France’s Minister for Foreign Trade at that time asked the OECD National Contact Point (NCP) to clarify the scope of the OECD Guidelines with respect to outsourcing companies’ supply chains, and to issue recommendations reinforcing the application of these guidelines so such negligence could be prevented in the future.
The NCP report, produced following hearings with all parties involved, was submitted to the Minister and published online on 2 December 2013. It addresses all actors, and establishes a full range of measures which, once implemented, will enable businesses to oversee supply chains in this sector. The recommendations were shared widely, particularly with the OECD, ILO and EU, and were followed by similar reports published by the Italian and Belgian NCPs.
Following the publication of these recommendations, the OECD set up a working group to
develop a guide for the enforcement of the guidelines in the textile sector, at France’s
insistence. This working group brings together international organizations such as ILO, the private sector, civil society, NCPs and States. The guide will include reinforced due diligence measures to be implemented in this specific sector. The OECD has also planned to set up a platform for shared dialogue and good practices.
As for the EU, it has set up a multi-stakeholder platform for the textile sector.
The G7 included the issue of supply chains in the Leaders’ Declaration issued under the German Presidency following the Elmau Summit in June 2015. This was followed by a roadmap, which was adopted by the French Ministries of Social Affairs and Development in October 2015. While the scope of these initiatives extends beyond the textile sector, approved measures will initially apply to this industry. This is the case for the “Vision Zero Fund”, which will be created to reinforce workplace safety and reduce workplace accidents in producer countries. – page 33
– France is continuing to raise awareness of the NCP report issued on 2 December 2013, and monitor the implementation of its recommendations in the French textile, garment and distribution sectors.
– France is helping to finalize the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains in the Garment and Footwear Sector. – page 33
The Georgian NAP does not make a direct reference to the Garment sector.
2. CHALLENGES IN CORPORATE PRACTICE
2.1 Ensuring the protection of human rights in supply and value chains
- The Partnership for Sustainable Textiles, which was initiated by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, has established an obligation to comply with sustainability standards and to guarantee corporate due diligence in the textile and clothing sector. All members of the Partnership are required to pursue its social and environmental objectives. They submit to a review process, which is conducted by an independent third party and is designed to bring about continuous improvement. Individual schedules of measures (road maps) are compiled annually by all members; the first of these is to be produced by the end
of January 2017. A robust sanctions regime and regular reporting on the implementation of the road maps will ensure credibility and transparency. The Textile Partnership creates a reference framework and an independent review system of international scope. – page 20
- By means of the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles, the Federal Government supports a multi-stakeholder initiative combining voluntary and compulsory elements. The Textile Partner- ship is designed to comply with the UN Guiding Principles. The aim is to have 75 % of the German textile and clothing market signed up to the Textile Partnership by 2018.
- Germany supports the application of sustainability standards in host countries, for example through the regional project entitled “Social and labour standards in the textile and garment sector in Asia”, which covers three coun- tries – Bangladesh, Cambodia and Pakistan. – page 20
The Irish NAP does not make a direct reference to the Garment sector.
1. BACKGROUND AND CONTEXT
2. NATIONAL PRIORITIES
Business impact on human rights may touch multiple subjects (such as workers, migrants and children) in several ways (discrimination, exploitation, pollution, etc.) and within different contexts of economic activities (agriculture, textile, finance, oil and gas and so on). The impact of business on human rights has indeed the potential to be much widespread and involves almost every aspect of society. – page 6
GP (3c,d) : “Provide effective guidance to business on how to respect human rights throughout their operations”;
“Encourage or require business enterprises to communicate how they address human rights impact”;
Sustainable supply chain is indeed one of the main focus of the NCP action. In 2013, following the Rana Plaza collapse, the “Action Plan for Bangladesh” was launched with the involvement of Italian enterprises in the sector operating in Bangladesh. In this process, the NCP issued the “Report on responsible business conduct in the textile and garment supply chain. Recommendations of the Italian NCP on implementation of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises”. – page 17
Besides the “Guida per l’integrazione degli aspetti sociali negli appalti pubblici” (adopted with Ministerial Decree of 6 June 2012) which gives indications to include social criteria in the contractual activities of public administrations by referring to minimum human rights standard and working conditions (ILO Conventions) in the supply chain of public procurement, specific indications on human rights due diligence have been integrated within the Minimum Environmental Criteria such as those defined with regard to textile products and adopted with Ministerial Decree of 11 January 2017. – page 22
Chapter 2. Action Plan
Measures of the Government Promoting Corporate Responsibility to Respect Human Rights
1. Measures Related to Domestic and Global Supply Chains and Promotion of Human Rights Due Diligence Based on the UNGPs
( Existing framework/Measures taken)
With increased interest in responsible business conduct, the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, which Japan adheres to, added a new chapter on business responsibility on respect for human rights in its 2011 edition. In addition, OECD has launched due diligence guidance specific to sectors such as minerals, agriculture, garments, and footwear. In 2018, the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Business Conduct was published as a practical tool that businesses can use regardless of the sector. The Government has been engaged in promoting the above Guidelines and Guidance to businesses. – page 23
The Kenyan NAP does not make a direct reference to the Garment sector.
The Lithuanian NAP does not make a direct reference to the Garment sector.
Part I: NAP 2020 to 2022 Strategic Goal
A second, more operational National Action Plan
The economic sectors particularly exposed to the risk of human rights violations were identified, among others, on the basis of the national baseline assessment carried out by the expert from the University of Luxembourg. In particular, the study revealed a certain potential risk of negative impact of economic activities on human rights in the financial sector, the service sector, the information and communication technology sector (including the field of artificial intelligence and data protection), the hotel and restaurant sector, the textile sector, the agro-business sector, the extractive sector, the logistics sector (including all aspects of land, air and sea transport) and the construction sector. – page 17
3. Results of the consultations and government response
3.1 An active role for the government
Cooperation with the Dutch textile sector
At a conference held on 20 June 2013, the sector organisations representing Dutch textile companies presented an action plan to tackle abuses in the production of clothing. The plan aims for structural improvements in CSR in the textile and clothing sector worldwide. The OECD guidelines and the Ruggie Framework are the guiding principles. By the end of 2014 at least 50% of the companies ailiated to the sector organisations should have signed the action plan and/or should be participating in a project aimed at achieving the action plan’s goals. The Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation has called on textile companies to commit to the plan. She has entered into dialogue with the sector on its implementation, and on opportuni- ties to conclude a voluntary CSR agreement on textiles, for which the action plan forms a good starting point. – page 14
The Netherlands is also helping to promote human rights through programmes of multilateral institutions. The ILO’s Beter Work programme is a good example. The Beter Work programme was launched by the ILO and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to improve working conditions in the textile sector in a number of countries. – page 19
3.3 Clarifying due diligence
Sector Risk Analysis
An issue raised during the consultations was that the government should help companies to take a proactive approach in identifying risks to human rights. Where speciic issues relating to human rights and the Dutch business community play a role, the government will enter into dialogue with the companies concerned. The government has reached agreement with a number of sectors on the subject of due diligence. Agreements with, for example, the textile sector and energy companies are now in preparation. The government is willing to remove obstacles identiied by the companies concerned. It will support them in upscaling initiatives to international level – e.g. through the Beter Coal Initiative dialogue – and will work for a level playing ield for Dutch compa- nies. The Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation has underscored the importance of this initiative and called on other countries to give it their support. To ensure greater efectiveness, the government is also commited to upscaling initiatives relating to the textile sector in Bangladesh, together with other countries and international organisations. – page 25, 26
2. The State duty to protect human rights
2.3 State ownership and practice for supporting the business sector
In 2014, the Council on Ethics reviewed a number of cases of human rights violations in connection with extraction of natural resources, agriculture, food production and textile manufacturing. – page 23
4. State expectations of Business Enterprises
To facilitate and guide business enterprises in ensuring compliance with and supporting the effective implementation of the NAP priority areas and the UNGPs, the State of Pakistan expects business enterprises to:
- In addition to the UNGPs, be cognisant of and guided by international guidelines and principles such as the (…) OECD Due Diligence Guidelines for Responsible Supply Chains in the Garment and Footwear Sector, (…). – page 39
The Peruvian NAP does not make a direct refence to the Garment sector.
PILLAR I: The state’s duty to protect human rights
1. Regulations relating to business and human rights under Polish law
Occupational safety and health
The provisions for ensuring safe and hygienic working conditions by employers are set out in Division 10 of the Labour Code, “Health and Safety at Work”, as well as in other generally applicable laws. (…) Division 10 of the Labour Code specifies the rights and obligations of employees with respect to health and safety at work, the basic health and safety requirements for buildings and working premises, as well as machines and other technical equipment, requirements regarding factors and processes of work that create particular threats to health or life, obligations providing employees with preventive health protection, employers’ obligations related to accidents at work and occupational diseases, obligations to provide health and safety training, obligations to provide employees with measures of individual protection and work clothes and shoes, requirements to establish a health and safety at work service, requirements to provide consultations on health and safety at work and a commission on health and safety at work. – page 14
The Slovenian NAP does not make a direct reference to the Garment sector.
The South Korean NAP does not make a direct reference to the Garment sector.
II. ANTECEDENTS AND CONTEXT
Among the actions contemplated in the Plan, it is possible to find the development and implementation of National Plans of Action for the implementation of the Guiding Principles. In addition, there has been much debate about the role of the company in the field of EU development cooperation.
Among other things, we should mention the Council Conclusions on sustainable clothing value chains, approved in May 2017. The purpose of these Conclusions is to recall the areas in which cooperation can work to improve working, social and environmental conditions in the textile sector, supporting the efforts of all the actors involved: Governments of producing countries, civil society organizations, and the private sector. it is necessary to mention the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development approved by Within the framework of the United Nations, Resolution 70/1 of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on September 25, 2015. – page 7
Regulations and legislations
- Several seminars have been organised on the issue of business and human rights. For example, in 2013 a national conference was held in the context of work on Sweden’s Policy for Global Development. Business and human rights was one of three main themes. In the same year, a conference on CSR was held in Stockholm. One of the focus areas was business and human rights. Dialogue meetings were also held in 2013 with businesses and civil society organizations on the subject of working and safety conditions in the Bangladeshi textile sector. – Page 23
2.1 Pillar 1: State duty to protect
2.1.2 Operational principles: legislative and information policy measures
Measure 5 Multi-stakeholder initiatives on business and human rights
The federal government backs multi-stakeholder initiatives that focus on human rights issues in sectors such as textiles, cocoa and gold. As these initiatives cover other subjects such as corruption and the environment, they are dealt with in Measure 10 of the 2020–23 CSR Action Plan. – Page 11
2.2.2 Operational principles: human rights due diligence
Measure 29 Public-private partnerships to promote respect for human rights in the value chain
To promote the implementation of labour rights and human rights by business enterprises, the federal government, together with the ILO, supports the Better Work programme for the textile industry and the Sustaining Competitive and Responsible Enterprises (SCORE) programme to support SMEs in creating decent working conditions. These projects are jointly run by the ILO, governments, the private sector and unions, and are focused on compliance with fundamental labour standards, including measures to combat child and forced labour. The tools developed by these programmes are shared with the private sector.
The federal government supports a project to promote human rights due diligence with a view to preventing the exploitation of Syrian refugees and migrant workers in neighbouring countries (Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan). The aim is to strengthen the contribution that business enterprises make to providing decent work opportunities and combatting exploitation in the textile, agricultural and construction sectors in these countries. – Page 26
The OECD has also produced a series of guidelines for companies that contain practical recommendations on the adoption of due diligence along their value chains. In May 2018, it published guidance for companies of all sizes that are exposed to risks in their value chains, irrespective of the sector within which they operate. Other guidelines are aimed at specific sectors such as the agricultural, financial and textile sectors. – Page 27
The Taiwanese NAP does not make a direct reference to the Garment sector.
The Thai NAP does not make a direct reference to the Garment sector.
The Ugandan NAP does not make a direct reference to the Garment sector.
2. The State’s Duty to Protect Human Rights
The collapse of Rana Plaza, in 2013, a building housing a number of commercial ventures including several garment factories, shocked the world and the implications still continue to reverberate over two years later. Over 1,100 people were killed and many more were injured. For the victims and their families the events that unfolded on that day have irrevocably affected their lives. Following the collapse, the British High Commission in Dhaka alongside DFID Bangladesh, have done a number of things to support the victims and try and ensure a disaster like this never happens again.
DFID Bangladesh, in partnership with Canada and the Netherlands, will provide a total of £7.4m to improve building safety and working conditions, empower workers and urge buyers to take responsibility for their supply chains
To date over 1000 structural, fire and electrical safety inspections have been carried out, nearly 200 new inspectors recruited and 299 survivors trained to enable them to find alternative jobs or start small businesses.
144 senior masters have been trained in health and safety, who will in turn train 7,600 supervisors that will themselves train over 300,000 workers.
DFID Bangladesh funding has also worked to try and ensure justice for garment workers, supporting a number of NGOs to file public interest litigation to protect workers’ rights, and increase awareness of worker rights. To support this, in 2015 the British High Commission began work with Global Rights Compliance and Action Aid Bangladesh to increase state, corporate, trade associations and trade union understanding and uptake of the UN Guiding Principles, increase accountability and reduce human rights violations in the garment, leather and tannery sectors. – Page 12
COLLABORATING WITH STAKEHOLDERS
Outcome 2.1: Enhance the Value of Multi-Stakeholder Initiatives on RBC
ILO-International Finance Corporation (IFC) Better Work Program: More than 60 American apparel brands are part of the Better Work program, implemented by the ILO in partnership with the IFC. DOL has funded Better Work programs in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Haiti, Jordan, Lesotho, Nicaragua, and Vietnam. The Better Work program is being implemented in 1,343 export apparel factories, supporting better labor conditions for approximately 1,750,000 workers worldwide. – Page 15