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H&M Partners With Global Union to Improve Labor Standards at Suppliers

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In its effort to leave the apparel industry better than it found it, H&M has partnered with the IndustriALL Global Union and Swedish trade union IF Metall to improve labor conditions at its supplier factories.

Together with the unions, H&M will provide training for management and union representatives on employers’ responsibilities, workers’ rights and obligations, industrial relations, and help employers and employees resolve conflicts peacefully, namely at the factory level where those problems tend to arise.

As part of the global framework agreement, the parties will also establish national monitoring committees—initially planned for Cambodia, Bangladesh and Myanmar—and work to address concerns about collective bargaining and collective agreements for the 1.6 million garment workers employed at the roughly 1,900 factories where H&M buys its goods.

H&M CEO Karl-Johan Persson, said, “Well-functioning industrial relations including collective bargaining are keys to achieving fair living wages and improved working conditions in our supply chain. We believe that the collaboration with IndustriALL and IF Metall will contribute to our already ongoing work within this field as well as help to create stable sourcing markets.”

Good dialogue between employers and workers, H&M said, is necessary for lasting improvements to conditions for garment workers and the company is looking to advance this development in a positive direction.

“The agreement creates a unique system for committees made up of the parties on the labour market, on national as well as international level,” IF Metall president Anders Ferbe, said. “Implementing the agreement, primarily through communication and training of trade unions and their member, suppliers and employer associations, but also employers in factories where there are currently no unions, will be the most important task.”

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