Indian garment makers meet to discuss “Code of Compliance”

January 21, 2013 - India

The 2nd Stakeholder' Consultation / AEPC Stakeholder Forum meet convened on January 20, 2013. The second stakeholder consultation was organized to discuss and consult the DISHA facilitation programme methodology being implemented in Garment Manufacturing Factories in India.

The meeting was presided-over by Shri V. Srinivas, IAS, Jt. Secretary (Exports), Ministry of Textiles. Chairman AEPC Dr. A Salthivel, Ashok Logani, Chairman DISHA Sub- committee,  Mrs Manisha Sinha, Director Exports, Ministry of Textiles, Shri  H K Jethi, Director Ministry of Labour, Labour Commissioner of States, Brands, Buying Houses, NGOs, Trade Union, Accreditation Agencies, Compliance consultants,  exporters were also present in the meeting.

AEPC launched the Driving Industry towards Human Capital Advancement (DISHA) programme in December 2011, under the aegis and support of the Ministry of Textiles, Government of India to support the Indian apparel industry in addressing some of the concerns and challenges. AEPC is supporting the development of a code of conduct along with a guideline and self-assessment tool as Indian apparel industry's self-regulatory initiative under the DISHA programme - Common Code of Conduct.

During the First Stake Holders Forum we have discussed and shared the code and other tools to the stakeholders of the Indian apparel industry to seek their feedback for effective and desired impact of the DISHA programme.

AEPC DISHA has undergone a significant change since its inception. Now the focus is on transferring the ownership and control based on the participatory engagement and owning the responsibility of implementing the DISHA- CCC (Code of Conduct). The DISHA tool kit has been handed over to the DISHA champions who are from the employee pool manager level staff of the factories.

The DISHA team regularly monitors the developments after they have gone through the TOT/ training and implementation sessions. Ministry officials also from time to time visit these factories to see the intent and resolve of implementation of DISHA codes.

Speaking on the forum Dr. A Sakthivel Chairman AEPC stated that, “The first Roundtable of the Stakeholders initiated the process for the formation of this Forum. The Forum discussed the most important initiative being taken by AEPC for meeting and managing compliance challenges in the work place – DISHA.”

“We invite everyone who would like to contribute towards development of a comprehensive framework for managing compliance challenges, in this context. Recognizing the need for providing a multi-stakeholder platform to exchange perspectives, voices and concerns as well as seek assistance and contribution of various stakeholders of the apparel industry towards developing strategies to address compliance challenges AEPC DISHA respects all suggestions and feedbacks”, he added.

Chairman AEPC further informed that, during the first Stakeholders Consultation, Questionnaires were circulated to all participants in order to get institutional response of various stakeholders on their perception of the compliance challenges faced by the apparel industry and their expectations from DISHA to meet their challenges.

The assessment of these questionnaire show very positive response from most of the stakeholders to the AEPC approach to understand and resolving compliance challenges faced by Indian Apparel Industry. The concept was appreciated by all stakeholders. It was recognized as a huge ambition that manufacturers take responsibility for making India a responsible sourcing destination

Shri V Srinivas Jt. Secretary Exports in the Ministry of Textiles said, “At present there are 145 enrolments from across India. Factory visits have been initiated in 78 of these, in NCR, Jaipur, Ludhiana, Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai, Tirupur, Maudrai, Kolkatta. Of these 78 factories, 26 have completed atleast 3rd visit of the 6 visit DISHA training programme.

He added, “During the interaction with some of the DISHA participating factories during the distribution of the DISHA adoption certificates, last week, I was happy to know that the programme has given tangible benefit to factories in the areas of market access, productivity and worker relationship management and retention”. 

“As we all know, social and environment compliance has become an important requirement while supplying to the western markets. For India to remain competitive in this scenario, we have to focus intensively on two competitive levers; innovation and social compliance. Global apparel buyers are now insisting on full compliance with International and national labor standards, regulations and convention. I am happy that the programme has come out as a robust programme for addressing the industry's requirement for compliance management”, he concluded by saying.

JS Exports briefed that, “The Ministry is keen to run this programme in the 12th plan and beyond. We have a target of 2600 units by the end of this plan period. I feel this year was a preparatory year and we would need you feedbacks to make the programme more robust and effective. I would like to share with you that the programme has been received with great enthusiasm by the USTR and US Dept of Labour.

“USTR has expressed eagerness to enter into cooperation with us on various issues including this programme. The proposed MoU with USTR envisages sharing of knowledge and best practices in the areas of social compliance to strengthen such initiatives”.

Shri. Ashok Logani, Chairman DISHA Sub- Committee said, “Happy workers leads to less absenteeism & reduced over time leading to increased productivity and reduction in production cost. This is the philosophy behind our dedicated training on worker issues.  The DISHA champion’s team concept enhances relationship between apparel manufacturer and various dept heads in the middle management.

"DISHA is a space of interest to all the various stakeholders so that they can use their sphere of influence to converge people together to discuss and answer some very important questions. This platform, brought forward by the AEPC with the help of the government makes it imperative for all of us to come together to envision what the future should look like for the industry and others in the supply chain”.

Secretary Textiles, Smt. Kiran Dhingra IAS, last week distributed the DISHA adoption certificate to the ‘DISHA Champions’. 78 factories which have been reached out for the training and implementation under project DISHA. The six days training programme/ workshop aimed at the capacity building and greater awareness for the effective implementation of the programme.