IndustriAll and global brands are being honored for their fair labor efforts—and those efforts could bring the industry closer to a common standard on labor and wages.
Last week, the global union’s wage initiative, ACT (Action, Collaboration, Transformation), was recognized in the final declaration of the G20 Labor and Employment Ministers meeting in Germany. G20 labor ministers said ACT was a prime example of how social partners can work together to reduce inequality, eliminate poverty wages and achieve sustainable wage growth.
ACT was presented by IndustriAll global union assistant general secretary Jenny Holdcroft and Tchibo CEO Thomas Linemayr. Holdcroft explained to labor ministers how ACT, which collaborates with major apparel brands like H&M and Inditex, fosters better living wages for garment workers by introducing industry-wide bargaining and connecting it to brand purchasing practices. Holdcroft also said higher wages must be established across the industry, so individual brands and factories can be prevented from negotiating lower pay for their workers.
In most global supply chains, buyers at the top have the greatest power to determine where value is distributed along the chain and how workers are compensated. By linking industry-wide bargaining between employers and unions to brand’s purchasing practices, ACT develops an ethical framework for supply chain communications. Industry bargaining helps workers receive a wage that meets living standards, while other key stakeholders can remedy labor issues, including productivity and working hours.
“As ACT, we have taken on a great commitment and we know this will take time and patience. So we ask for as much support we can get from governments and in-country stakeholders on this path,” former special representative of the UN Secretary-General on Business and Human Rights John Ruggie said. “We can only do this together.”