Clean Clothes Campaign urges the establishment of institutional frameworks for remediation and prevention

At the International Labour Conference (ILC), starting today in Geneva, Clean Clothes Campaign will call upon the representatives of governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations from 187 member states to establish institutional and enforcement frameworks that enable effective remedy after and prevention of disasters in global supply chains. Clean Clothes Campaign welcomes the fact that for the first time in the long history of the ILC, global supply chain issues are a main focus of the conference, and follows the work of the Committee on Decent Work in Global Supply Chains with heightened interest.

Clean Clothes Campaign will be represented at the conference by a delegation of trade unionists and labour activists from Europe and Asia. The delegation will use its presence at the conference to emphasize the need for an institutional framework for remedy and prevention that can be scaled up to an enforceable solution. On the opening day, Clean Clothes Campaign will address these concerns in a short plenary speech.

Thus far, institutional frameworks within global supply chains are often responses to singular tragedies, and remain stand-alone initiatives. The Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety for example came about as response to the Rana Plaza building collapse, but in the three years since it has not led to comparable work elsewhere in South Asia. Brands, employers and governments are not compelled to take the kind of collective action that is needed to make real changes. Binding agreements, that pin companies down on the public promises made, such as the Bangladesh Accord, are rare and often only established in reaction to extraordinary events such as the Rana Plaza collapse.

Clean Clothes Campaign therefore calls upon the ILC to concretely discuss and initiate means to replicate and implement initiatives such as the Bangladesh Accord through:

  • the establishment of an institutional framework that enables cross-border negotiations and develop effective remedy and prevention programs without waiting for a scandal that triggers them, and with the ability to scale up,

  • and the establishment of an enforcement framework that can ensure those programs will be legally binding and therefore can be implemented and sustained.

The wide-spread issues that need to be addressed in global supply chains are exemplified by a range of reports published in the wake of the ILC, by organizations from the Clean Clothes Campaigns' network. The Asian Floor Wage Alliance (AFWA) in the week preceding the conference published reports on precarious work in the global supply chains of H&M and GAP. Etique sur l'Etiquette, the French Clean Clothes Campaign, on 1 June will publish a report addressing supply chain issues of Nike, adidas and Puma.

Frieda de Koninck, who will hold the plenary speech on behalf of the Clean Clothes Campaign, states: “Our presence at the ILC enables us to reiterate that it is demonstrably not sufficient to just bring supply chain actors together in a dialogue and rely on their collective ability to take action. We knock on the door of the International Labour Organization to become involved in overcoming the weaknesses of non-binding initiatives and to enhance collaboration and transparency among the industry partners.”