On Thursday, Better Work, a UN International Labour Organization flagship program jointly run by the International Finance Corporation and global compliance multistakeholder Fair Wear Foundation signed an agreement at the Human Rights and Garment Conference in the Netherlands.
The partnership, which is set to start its 18-month pilot on June 1, will coordinate factory assessments, streamline factory capacity building and improvement processes, and facilitate cooperation opportunities for brand partners. With the agreement, both organizations will be able to engage diverse groups, including brands and unions, and encourage effective worker-management communication at garment factories. What’s more, engaging new European brands and smaller brands will benefit Better Work, while Fair Wear Foundation will gain access to Better Work’s compliance data.
A select group of apparel factories in Bangladesh and Vietnam will take part in a trial project coordinated by the two organizations. Better Work and the Fair Wear Foundation will coordinate the factories’ activities to improve working conditions and day-to-day operations. The project will include minimizing the duplication of audits, collaborating on factory problem-solving initiatives, fostering a better approach to worker grievances and conducting training opportunities to remedy workplace issues, like health and safety.
The pilot project will undergo assessment and if successful, could strengthen the agreement between both organizations and enable them to expand their work to additional factories and nations.
“Together we are capable of better facilitating cooperation between garment brands on improved working conditions. Collaborating with Better Work provides a great opportunity to learn from one another,” Fair Wear Foundation associate director Margreet Vrieling said. “After all, we have the same objectives, just different approaches.”
As a collaboration between the UN’s ILO and IFC, Better Work is a comprehensive program that brings together industry members to improve working conditions and labor rights for garment workers. Better Work is currently active in 1,450 factories and employs more than one million workers worldwide. The program aims to promote inclusive economic growth and minimize global poverty.