Millions of workers across the developing world rely on the garment industry for employment. While factories are a valuable source of jobs and can help improve livelihoods of workers and their families, poor working conditions remain a pressing issue across the sector. Industry challenges are vast and complex. They include workers not knowing their rights and entitlements and how to achieve them, poor law enforcement and a lack of accountability and ownership in improving compliance.
Since 2007, we have worked to improve garment workers’ lives by striving to secure safe, clean, equitable working environments. We do this by building strong relations between managers and workers at the workplace who, with our support, can then take ownership and responsibility for continuously improving working conditions and eventually competitiveness at the factory.Today, we have reached more than one million workers while promoting and boosting business benefits.
Our work has resulted in clear, sustainable improvements in factory working conditions across the countries where we operate and changes in policy that protect workers. This has a multiplier effect of businesses profiting from having stronger industrial relations and communities benefiting when workers are creating livelihoods and can send remittances home.
By 2017, Better Work will have improved the lives of at least three million workers and millions more of their family members. It will achieve this by driving sector-wide, sustainable improvement in adherence to national labour law and core labour standards, and strengthening business competitiveness in major garment producing countries.
Better Work will provide high-quality services and be the partnership of choice for its constituents, international buyers and institutional partners.
Better Work will influence the policies and practices of international buyers, governments and other institutions by sharing the unique knowledge and findings arising from its programme.
Through its wider alliance, Better Work will leverage opportunities to improve industrial relations and labour law governance, as well as create a level playing field for good employment practices.
- In 2007, the ILO and the IFC saw the great need for a programme that bolstered good conditions in the garment sector of developing countries through business friendly strategies. They came together to create Better Work. Inspired by the early success the Better Factories Cambodia programme had in improving conditions and generating business, Better Work also incorporated building relations between workers and managers at the factory floor to strengthen and expand changes.
- Better Work Jordan became our first country programme to launch when we opened our doors in the capital, Amman, in 2008.
- We launched a programme in Lesotho in 2010, thus far our only programme in Africa.
- 2011 saw the launch of our programmes in Indonesia and Nicaragua.
- In 2012, Better Work entered its third phase of work. The programme carved out a strategy to reach a level of influencing, knowledge sharing and partnership that will contribute to lasting changes in the garment industry and beyond.
- As the global garment industry continues to expand, so do we. Bangladesh, launched in 2014, is the most recent country to join.