Global Framework Agreements
In response to the rapid globalisation of companies and supply chains the International Metalworkers’ Federation (IMF), the International Chemical, Energy, Mining and General Workers’ Federation (ICEM) and the International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers’ Federation (ITGLWF) have each developed strategies for promoting decent work in multinational enterprises and the companies with whom they do business. One tool, utilised by all three GUFs, has been the negotiation of international, or global, framework agreements (IFAs/ GFAs).
GFAs are agreements negotiated between Global Union Federations (GUFs) and multinational companies. The agreements contain a number of provisions that the companies commit to abiding by, which build on those which they are obliged to meet under national law and international labour standards. GFAs are intended to create a space for union – company dialogue and to ensure that the company, and in many cases its subsidiaries, do not try to create obstacles to union organising.
While most GUFs, and almost all academic literature, refer to the agreements as being ‘International’ the ICEM calls them Global Framework Agreements (GFAs). For the ICEM this is a political decision as they want to be clear that the agreements must cover every operation of the signatory company, and are concerned that the term ‘International’ could be taken to mean that the agreement covers just part of a companies’ operations. Whether referred to as Global or International the Framework Agreements share a common goal – that is to improve labour conditions across a company’s operations worldwide by agreeing to cooperate to promote the realisation of human and trade union rights.
For more information read the Educational Tool produced by the ITGLWF with the cooperation of the ICEM and IMF.
The ITGLWF - Inditex GFA
Trail-Blazing Agreement to Promote Decent Work in Inditex Supply Chain
A ground-breaking global framework agreement designed to promote decent work in the textiles, garments and footwear industries was today signed in La Coruña, Spain, by Inditex SA., the world’s second largest clothing retailer and the global trade union, International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers’ Federation.
Under the agreement (attached), Inditex SA recognizes the ITGLWF as its global trade union counterpart for workers employed in the production of textiles, garments and footwear. And both undertake to collaborate to ensure the sustainable and long-term observance of all international labour standards throughout the Inditex supply chain.
The agreement is the first of its kind to cover a retail supply chain and because it provides workers with the mechanisms to monitor and enforce their rights at work, the agreement places the right of workers to unionise and to bargain collectively with their employer at the heart of efforts to secure sustainable compliance to key labour standards by suppliers to Inditex.
Inditex’s Code of Conduct for External Manufacturers and Suppliers underpins the agreement which outlaws forced labour, child labour, discrimination and harsh and inhumane treatment throughout the Inditex supply chain. It provides for the payment of a living wage for a standard workweek, limitations on working hours, healthy and safe workplaces, regular employment and environmental awareness. The terms of the agreement will apply equally to direct suppliers, contractors and sub-contractors including homeworkers. No subcontracting will be allowed without the prior written consent of Inditex and suppliers allowed to subcontract will be responsible for subcontractor compliance.
Recognising the role of organized labour and collective bargaining, Inditex and the ITGLWF will keep constantly under review developments in this area in the Inditex supply chain and will co-operate in finding solutions where problems are detected, including collaborating on training programmes for the managements and workers concerned.
To facilitate this ongoing review Inditex will provide the ITGLWF with relevant information on its supply chain and both Inditex and the ITGLWF will jointly develop training policies and programmes to drive compliance.
The application of the agreement will be reviewed annually by a six person group drawn jointly from Inditex and the ITGLWF.
Commenting following signature of the agreement, Neil Kearney, ITGLWF General Secretary, commended Inditex on being trail-blazers in promoting compliance with international labour standards throughout their supply chain and in innovative ways. “In this agreement, Inditex and the ITGLWF today signal a new approach to ensuring decent work in the textile, garment and footwear supply chains”, he said.
“It is an approach based on the employment relationship where the employer directly takes responsibility for those employed and where the exercise of that responsibility is regulated by a mature system of industrial relations at workplace level involving management and trade union representatives. Irregular policing through snap-shot audits is replaced by constant internal factory monitoring by those who know the enterprise best - management and workers – aided by the commitment of Inditex to build a totally socially compliant supply chain through support and training rather than sanction.
“We look forward to the challenge of jointly driving this forward with Inditex”, he concluded.
UI Zenzen and Mizuno GFA
On the 15th November the ITGLWF's Japanese Affiliate UI Zensen and Mizuno signed a GFA a copy of which is here.