The global apparel industry including sportswear has become increasingly competitive since the phase out of the Multi-Fibre Arrangement in 2005 with the industry containing some of the world’s must powerful multinational brands such as Adidas, Nike, and Puma. In 2007 the global sportswear industry was worth US$145 billion and despite the global economic downturn the sector continues to increase in value.
Industry competition has lead to very significant reduction in prices paid to suppliers and consequent downward pressure on wages of workers often accompanied by long working hours, high production targets and job insecurity as local employers outbid each other in an inexorable race to the bottom. The proportion of wage costs compared with other production costs is now at the lowest level ever recorded.
Whilst paying rock bottom prices buying companies nurture their reputations for quality and corporate social responsibility making ever higher demands for top class service. The reputation of the brands represents a significant proportion of their stock value so they are extremely concerned to enhance their image and to avoid risks associated with adverse publicity concerning violations of worker rights in their supply chains.
The ITGLWF has made progress in persuading leading sportswear brands that the establishment of mature systems of industrial relations in their supply chains can help them achieve their aim of protecting their reputation and avoiding press stories arising from abuse of worker rights by their suppliers.
Projects and Campaigns
Global Sportswear Project
This project aims to develop social dialogue with multinational corporations in the sporting apparel and footwear industry to establish sustainable and effective systems of industrial relations in their supply chains and to develop greater understanding of how the global sportswear industry operates
Specifically the project will assist ITGLWF affiliates worldwide to:
- achieve a positive climate within which workplace trade unionism can take root
- attain living wages through collective bargaining and campaigning
- negotiate workplace agreements to eradicate precarious employment
- achieve both substantive and procedural agreements during a phase of industry consolidation
The project is funded by SASK of Finland and is coordinated by staff in the Education and Development Aid Office.
Indonesia is one of the largest producers of sportswear goods in the world. The ITGLWF is currently involved in a multi-stakeholder process that is seeking to improve existing treatment of workers in the sportswear factories. This project to be implemented by ITGLWF, to support its Indonesian affiliates GARTEKS and SPN will have the following outcomes;
- To achieve decent work through FoA for Indonesian workers engaged in the production of sportswear for export.
- To promote respect for freedom of association in sportswear producing factories in Indonesia
- Increase in recognition agreements between factories and trade unions
- Increase in the number of code of conduct violations which have been the subject of corrective action plans
- Increase in trade union access to factory facilities such as meeting rooms, notice boards etc.
This project is sponsored by the TUC with supporting activities also funded by SASK of Finland. For further information please contact the ITGLWF Education and Development Aid office.
Through this project the ITGLWF aims to work with its affiliate the Free Trade Zones & General Services Employees’ Union (FTZ&GSEU) in Sri Lanka to achieve improved working conditions for workers employed in the production of sportswear for export. The project aims to work with one or more of the major sportswear brands sourcing from Sri Lanka with a view to improving conditions for workers in their supply chains. The main stages of the project will be:
- research phase
- capacity building and planning
- collective bargaining
It is expected that by the end of the project significant progress will have been made towards the establishment of mature systems of industrial relations in the target supply chains.
Play Fair is an alliance of International Trade Unions and Labour Rights Organisations demanding respect for workers’ rights in the global sportswear industry. Play Fair targets sportswear brands and sporting organisations in the run up to major sporting events such as the Olympics, the FIFA World Cup etc.
Individual Play Fair campaigns are also organised at the national level with the support of the International alliance. For example Play Fair2012 managed by the TUC involves UK and International organisations targeting the London Olympics.
The ITGLWF through its sportswear project funded by SASK has developed a new logo and website for Play Fair. The English language version launched in December 2010 with the French and Spanish versions published in early 2011.
Please visit www.play-fair.org to see our new website and sign up for further information on Play Fair
In the meantime for further information on Play Fair visit: