Responsible garment production a step closer

04 July 2017
Aggregated list of production locations
The textile industry has established a basis for responsible garment manufacturing in the longer term. For the first time ever, businesses as a group will state which factories produce their clothing. They have also drawn up specific improvement plans to tackle poor working conditions, human rights and environmental and animal abuses.

A further step is the appointment of an independent disputes committee with the power to issue binding rulings. The entire initiative is the result of collaboration that began precisely a year ago under the terms of a garment and textile agreement. The partners in the agreement have worked out a structure for identifying risks and launching improvements. Businesses have submitted plans with targets for the years ahead. The real work will begin in the coming year. The agreement will remain in effect for a five-year period.

Agreement on a Sustainable Garment and Textile Sector

In 2016, a broad coalition of parties facilitated by the Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands (SER) concluded the Agreement on a Sustainable Garment and Textile Sector. Poor contditions in the textile industry have been an important issue for many years. The Rana Plaza disaster caused a lot of commotion. Rana Plaza, a building containing garment factories, collapsed in 2013, killing more than 1100 people. The sector faces many complex, international and multifaceted challenges. They are issues that cannot be resolved by one business acting alone. The agreement puts the focus on collective projects and cooperation, increasing the chance of success. It concentrates the agendas and efforts of different parties.

Parties work together under the agreement to improve working conditions, environmental circumstances and animal welfare. This collective approach, in which businesses, government, NGOs, unions and industry organisations work together, should lead to substantial progress in four years’ time.

Thanks to this agreement, we are taking firm steps that individual parties or businesses have been unable to do on their own in the past twenty years,” says Mariette Hamer, the SER’s president. “The dialogue leading to an agreement generates a basis of support for improvements. That basis is now a fact. Over the next four years, people around the world who make our clothing will start to notice those improvements.

Larger number of participating businesses

Sixty-four businesses have signed the agreement so far, representing about 80 different consumer clothing and textile brands. Initially, 55 entrepreneurs signed the agreement last year. This means that the agreement participants represent more than 35 percent of all textile sales in the Netherlands. Next year, that should increase to 50 percent, and ultimately to 80 percent.

The textile agreement has been facilitated by the SER and represents the Dutch approach to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises promoting international responsible business conduct. This multi-stakeholder approach is unique in the world and has attracted the attention of Germany, Denmark, the UK and other countries. The Netherlands is seeking to coordinate with initiatives elsewhere in the EU. If its approach grows into a European scheme, then the market of 500 million consumers will have better access to clothing that is responsibly produced, making them a greater force for global change.



For more information, contact
Marieke Ruijgrok, SER communications, +31 (0)6 29 23 02 62, m.ruijgrok@SER.NL


Involved in the IRBC agreement

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