In working with international production or supply chains, companies may be implicated, either directly or indirectly, in a variety of real or potential social, animal welfare and environmental problems. Each company can take action in its own operations, but a problem often cannot be resolved entirely or by an individual company acting alone. In such cases, collective projects may be the solution. By cooperating with other companies, governments, trade unions and NGOs, parties commit to achieving tangible results.
Collective project on combating child labour
Combatting child labour in India and Bangladesh
A coalition of parties and companies worked together between 2017 and 2020 to combat child labour in supply chains in India and Bangladesh. This was the first collective project under the Agreement. It was coordinated by HIVOS and implemented by six companies in partnership with UNICEF, Arisa, SAVE, READ, CCR CSR, the Fair Labor Association, InRetail and the Agreement Secretariat.
Improving working conditions in Tamil Nadu through cooperation
The collective project 'Factory support programme: continuous improvement of labour conditions in Tamil Nadu, India' aims to improve working conditions in this southern Indian state by addressing social issues. The following themes are central to the project: discrimination & gender, child labour, forced labour, freedom of association, living wage, and health & safety in the workplace. The project began in September 2020 and will run for three years.
It is being funded in part by the Dutch government’s Fund for Responsible Business (FVO). During the project, seven of the Agreement's signatories are cooperating with their suppliers and with Arisa, Mondiaal FNV, SAVE (a local NGO) and the Agreement Secretariat to address risks in their supply chain. The participating companies are Euretco, Fabienne Chapot, HEMA, O’Neill, Prénatal, The Sting and WE Fashion.
Read more about this project.
AMPLIFY: Project on Freedom of Association and Social Dialogue
In the AMPLIFY project, Dutch trade union confederations FNV and CNV, working through their foundations FNV Mondiaal and CNV Internationaal, are supporting Dutch garment companies in promoting freedom of association and social dialogue between their suppliers and workers at production sites. Freedom of association is an enabling right; when workers have a powerful voice and exercise the right to join an organisation, they are able to challenge adverse conditions and in doing so extend their positive influence to many other issues.
The project involves the participating companies in a learning path in which they develop SMART goals and receive individual guidance as they pursue them in cooperation with their suppliers. The focus is on companies exchanging ideas. They are given plenty of opportunity to share their experiences and learn from one another about challenges and possible solutions. Companies also learn by consulting experts on the subject.
Read more about this project.
Collective project on living wage
The theme ‘living wage’ is addressed specifically in the Dutch Agreement on Sustainable Garments and Textile. The Parties that drew up the Agreement together regard a living wage and social dialogue as essential themes. That is because progress in these two areas can have a positive impact on all the other themes. They are therefore of critical value and occupy a central place in the Agreement. Signatories can help support a living wage by adopting sustainable procurement practices.
The Signatories of the Dutch Agreement on Sustainable Garments and Textile have undertaken a collective project that addresses all of these aspects, i.e. living wage, social dialogue and sustainable procurement practices. The project activities are being developed and carried out in cooperation with the Participating Parties (trade unions, NGOs, industry associations) and Supporters. They are seeking the necessary international cooperation and scaling-up opportunities with existing initiatives.
The project combines activities at three levels: within the businesses that have signed the Agreement, at their suppliers (factories), and at the national level in the production countries. The Signatories to the Agreement are integrating support for a living wage into their Due Diligence process, procurement practices and dialogues with their suppliers/factories. The project is also working to raise awareness among and build the knowledge and capacity of suppliers in production countries. In addition, it also aims to help create a level playing field in production countries, with an increase in the minimum wage and collective bargaining at sector level leading to a vast improvement in workers’ wages throughout the entire garment and textile sector. Sustainable procurement practices in the sector must support these wage increases.
Collective project to improve sustainability of Chinese dye houses
The Dutch Agreement on Sustainable Garments and Textile started a new factory improvement project for dye houses in China, funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Consulate General in Shanghai). Engineering firm Arcadis helps us to implement this program to improve environmental and social performance in the Chinese wet processing industry. The project seeks to support a selection of Chinese dye houses (based in Shanghai, Jiangsu or Zhejiang) that supply Dutch clothing brands in improving their sustainability.
The program revolves around 3 main topics, based on research and stakeholder interviews.
- Pollution prevention: Dye houses are among one of the most polluting industries in China. Through their extensive use of heavy chemicals in combination with limited waste water treatment, the surrounding environment of this industry is often adversely affected. By careful considerations of chemical use and support in selecting and implementing adequate treatment options, the program stimulates to prevent pollution in future situations.
- Resource consumption: Heavy industries, like the dye houses, often use several resources in abundance, like energy, chemicals and water. Through support in monitoring programs and advising solutions for reducing resource consumption, this program hopes to support dye houses in reducing their energy, chemical and water footprint.
- Occupational Health & Safety: The safety of personnel working in factories, like dye houses, can often be at risk due to poor operating procedures and limited monitoring. The program will focus on enhancing the situation and management around health and safety and recommend ways forward.
The program will align with Chinese legislation, International standards and initiatives that are currently running in the textile industry, including monitoring tools like the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) Higg Facility Environmental Module (FEM), Amfori Business Environmental Performance Initiative (BEPI) and Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC).
The program consists of 3 distinct phases. In the 1st phase, reconnaissance visits at 10 different dye houses will be conducted, to assess the level of environmental and social performance regarding the 3 main topics specified above, and formulate an action plan for improvement. In the 2nd phase Arcadis will support the dye houses in tailoring (fine tuning) the resulting implementation program to the specific situation and capabilities of each of the dye houses. The dye houses will also be closely guided in tracking their progress and development of improvements. Throughout implementation, Arcadis will support the dye houses in any queries they might have and regularly organize update meetings. In the 3rd phase the improvements will be monitored, concluding with a final report and recommendations.