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H&M initiates steps to improve working conditions
May '17
H&M group has initiated several steps to improve working conditions of workers making H&M products at its suppliers. One of its major goals has been to ensure that factory employees are represented by trade unions to negotiate collectively, for this it is training factories on workplace cooperation, negotiation skills, collective bargaining and labour law.

“The work is at the top of our agenda and we stay true to our collaborative approach and methodical way of working, making it possible to take important steps forward,” H&M said.

The group facilitates dialogue between the employers and the employees at the factories and in the labour market in the countries where its products are made. This is fundamental to be able to improve working conditions, including wages, it said and added 290 factories are enrolled in the workplace dialogue and industrial relations programmes while more than 370,000 factory workers are directly covered by democratically elected worker representation through its programmes run in Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Ethiopia and India.

“In 2018, the goal is to have democratically elected worker representatives in place at supplier representing 50 per cent of our product volume,” the group said.

“Our collaboration within the Global Framework Agreement - pushing the development forward - was converted to a permanent agreement. H&M became an official supporter of the Global Deal partnership,” it said.

The group is also trying to make sure that wage issues are negotiated and that workers have knowledge about their wage, benefits and rights. Wage should also take the individual worker’s skills, experience, performance and responsibility into consideration. Such systems are being implemented at an increasing number of factories - 140 until the end of 2016, and an additional 96 during 2017.

Factories in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, India, China, Turkey and Myanmar are participating in this programme. “In 2018, the goal is to have improved wage management systems in place at suppliers representing 50 per cent of our product volume,” it said.

In a bid to herald change in the entire fashion industry, the group is focusing on close collaborations. This is important since the group shares suppliers with many other brands and the factory employees get the same wage regardless of which brand she/he saw garments for.

“We have collaboration projects together with partners such as Sida, the ILO and IF Metall to train management and workers on for example workplace cooperation and dispute resolution,” it said.

The group is also engaging national governments, which set minimum wages and decide on labour laws and when wage revisions take place, on creating change within the textile industry. “During 2016, as an example we have together with other brands had a dialogue with the Cambodian government about the new Trade Union Law, to make sure that the law fully respects ILO conventions.” (SV)

Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India

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