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Better Work to help improve labor standards in apparel industry
May '09
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, and the International Labour Organization (ILO) are scaling up their Better Work partnership to help raise labor standards in global supply chains, which will improve the lives of about 1.2 million workers in developing countries.

The two institutions today signed a new cooperation agreement that will consolidate efforts to improve labor standards and continue to promote the business case for better working conditions. This will allow the Better Work Program to respond more quickly to changes in market conditions in this time of crisis.

“This new structure solidifies the partnership between the ILO and IFC and streamlines the management process so that Better Work can effectively expand activities to continue improving labor standards in global supply chains,” said George Dragnich, ILO Executive Director for Social Dialogue. “Better Work is an important contribution to implementing the ILO's Decent Work Agenda and especially important in this time of economic crisis which puts workers and their families at risk.”

The first phase of this initiative established the Better Work global program and activities in the garment industries of Jordan, Vietnam and Haiti. The second phase will focus 80 percent of its effort on scaling up its engagement in the apparel industry and 20 percent on diversifying to new industries and extending access to Better Work tools for improving compliance with labor standards. This effort will start in July 2009 and continue for three years.

“The continuation of IFC and ILO's cooperation comes at a crucial time for ensuring labor standards protection in the private sector,” said Rachel Kyte, IFC Vice President for Business Advisory Services. “In the current crisis, we are seeing large numbers of layoffs and rising underemployment. We need to ensure that IFC is doing all it can to work with the private sector to protect vulnerable workers. Building on this partnership with ILO is the next step in the right direction.”

The Better Work global program is supported by the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Ireland, Japan, Norway, Luxembourg, Italy, and New Zealand. The country program are supported by the United States, Jordan, Australia, Canada, the European Union, Finland, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland. The program is also supported with private-sector contributions from the United States Council Foundation with donations from the Levi Strauss Foundation, Jones Apparel Group, Sears Holding Group, and Wal-Mart.

International Labour Organization

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