amfori, Fair Wear and the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles (PST) are pleased to announce the signing of a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to strengthen their collaboration to jointly address workers grievances from shared factories of their various member brands. This collaboration will initially be piloted for a year, with the objective to improve working conditions in our members’ supply chains and to offer learnings for the industry to align access to remedies.
The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) strongly recommends in its Accountability and Remedy Project III that “operators of non-State-based grievance mechanisms cooperate proactively and constructively with each other in order to raise standards and promote good practice with respect to the resolution of grievances arising from business-related human rights harms.” In global garment supply chains, brands are likely to source from the same suppliers and/or factories. Those brands are often part of member organisations that seek to promote the improvement of working conditions in supply chains by providing (non-judicial) grievance mechanisms.
Production sites where multiple member brands, from different member organisations, source from, offer unique opportunities to pool resources and make a joint impact. With this in mind, and to integrate efforts and avoid overlap, amfori, Fair Wear and PST have agreed to work together to jointly address complaints raised in shared factories. The objectives are to
- support member brands and their suppliers in resolving complaints
- align approaches and standards
- strengthen collaboration among stakeholders
- provide better (access to) remedy for workers
In line with the OHCHR’s recommendations, this initiative will also help provide a space to test such collaboration between operators of grievance mechanisms, find synergies and align complaint handling, including investigation and remediation steps, across the industry.
In this endeavour, the organisations – in consultation with their main stakeholders – have drawn up a protocol setting out the scope, terms and processes for implementing this collaboration. The protocol does not replace any of the organisations’ complaints mechanisms but serves as an additional “instrument” to escalate incoming complaints whose resolution could benefit from such a collaborative approach While any grievance raised through a channel of the participating organisations may be covered by the collaboration protocol, complaints that are more complex in nature and where the additional leverage and resources provided by the collaboration would allow for better remediation, are more likely to be escalated.
This approach will be piloted for one year from September 2022. Thereafter, learnings and feedback received from various stakeholders during the first year will form the basis for evaluation and adaptation of the collaboration protocol.
Fair Wear has years of experience in handling complaints under its Fair Wear complaints mechanism that operates in a large number of countries. amfori recently piloted its supply chain grievance mechanism, Speak for Change Programme in Vietnam and is in the process of rolling it out in other countries. The PST does not have its own grievance mechanism, but promotes mechanisms of other organisations and engages in collaborative projects to improve access to remedies for workers in their members’ supply chains.
Although amfori, Fair Wear and PST are the first to sign the MoU, it is open for other like-minded organisations to join and learn from this shared experience.
The three organisations look forward to launching this new collaborative initiative to promote better working conditions in their members’ supply chains and learn for better industry alignment on access to remedies.