5-6 JUNE 2018 / Tour & Taxis / Brussels

Towards a sustainable garment sector: Ethical is fabulous

How to create jobs and growth and enhance social and environmental sustainability in garment value chains?

A3
Special Event
Tuesday, June 5, 2018
09:00 to 10:30

The global garment industry generates 1.3 trillion EUR of business each year, and employs 75 million people worldwide. The garment value chain is one of the most complex production models globally as well as an important value chain in economic terms, both within the EU and in partner countries, providing employment opportunities to millions of workers, especially women. However, the industry faces a wide area of sustainability challenges such as lack of enforcement of labour rights, unhealthy and unsafe working environments, use of hazardous chemicals, poor working conditions and low wages, water pollution and unsustainable use of resources. This session will bring together different stakeholders and offer a platform to highlight country-specific, regional and global initiatives. The objective will be to facilitate dialogue and encourage collaborative actions in view of tackling social and environmental challenges in global garment value chain.

Photo Nader Adem&ITC Ethical Fashion Initiative

Key points

  • There is broad consensus in the garment industry that workers are not earning a living wage.
  • Collective bargaining is one route towards achieving sustainable and continuous wage growth in the garment industry.
  • A signed collective bargaining agreement can trigger the commitment of international brands and open up a space for trade unions.
  • Educating consumers about how their clothes are produced is important.
  • New rules might include mandatory due diligence and reporting at the EU level by brands.

Synopsis

The panel debated how to create jobs and growth and enhance social and environmental sustainability in garment value chains. The global garment industry generates about EUR 1.3 trillion of business each year and employs 75 million people around the world, a large proportion of which are women.

There is a broad consensus in the garment industry that workers are not earning a living wage, and many factory owners take an authoritarian approach. As a result, a considerable cultural shift is needed in industrial relations.

One potential mechanism to help ensure sustainable and continuous wage growth is industry-wide collective bargaining. This is a route that Action Global Transformation is pursuing by holding discussions with national actors in countries such as Cambodia, Myanmar and Turkey. A signed collective bargaining agreement can trigger the commitment of international brands and open up a space for trade unions.

Fashion Revolution is a volunteer-led, consumer-focused global

Insight

One interesting idea that is already being used is to draft pre-written letters that consumers can send to brands urging them to be transparent and asking them what they do to support decent wages and collective bargaining. This practice exerts pressure on brands directly from consumers.

Organised by

Speakers

Arancha Gonzalez
Executive Director
International Trade Centre (ITC)
Marjeta Jager
Deputy Director-General
European Commission - DG for International Cooperation and Development (DEVCO)
Jonah Wigerhäll
Sustainability Expert
Hennes & Mauritz
Arne Lietz
MEP
European Parliament
Sarah Ditty
Head of Policy
Fashion Revolution
Frank Hoffer
Executive Director
Action Collaboration Transformation