- Better Work is engaged in ongoing discussions with brands, unions, employers, governments, international financial institutions (including development banks), multi-stakeholder initiatives and others to develop a coordinated response to the crisis the apparel industry is currently facing. A response will need to include short term responses to protect workers’ health and immediate financial needs, medium term responses to protect jobs and re-employ workers, and long term interventions to ensure strengthening of national social protection mechanisms in the most vulnerable apparel producing countries. These conversations are evolving as industry stakeholders work to move as quickly as possible toward shared solutions.
- Better Work, together with technical departments across the ILO, are providing guidance for stakeholders including, but not limited to: Recommendations on retrenchment; guidelines on migrant workers; national social protection responses; information on sick pay/benefits and unemployment support; guidelines for Labour Inspectors on requirements for safe reopening of facilities. All resources will be available on the BW COVID-19 response page and the ILO website.
- Providing factory services remotely (if necessary), e.g. virtual advisory and Industry Seminars (focused around emergency preparedness, preventing spread of infection/response to the pandemic) and use of distance learning and mobile technologies.
- Mass circulation to factories of World Health Organisation and International Labour Organisation health and safety guidance(in local languages and in a simple and actionable form) and supporting Workplace Safety Committees to develop action plans and robust, risk based systems.
- Providing advice to factories and brands facing unexpected compliance issuesresulting from closures, temporary or permanent layoffs, payment of wages, extended sick leave, delays in raw material delivery or transportation and/or closures of ports or customs processing facilities. Advice includes legal guidance provided by both national law and international standards related to: hours and wages, avoiding discrimination and harassment as well as social security safety nets. Better Work is actively promoting social dialogue in the factories to ensure workers are informed and consulted on their employment and steps for protection/containment.
- Coordinating information campaigns and trainingwith the World Health Organisation for national partners, including Ministries of Labour, employers and workers organizations.
- Convening all actors at the country levelto develop shared action and contingency plans for the sector.
- Assessments in most countries are temporarily on hold. Buyers can obtain updated factory information on the status of issues and progress to date through accessing a factory’s live Improvement Plan and Progress Reports on the Better Work portal.
- In person Advisory visits are in most countries being replaced by tailored virtual advisory ‘visits’ consisting of 1-2 hour video calls. These ‘virtual visits’ include working with both management and worker representatives primarily focusing on:
- Providing local language guidance for management and workers (e.g. World Health Organisation Guidelines) on prevention and response to Covid-19.
- Providing support to factories on associated social compliance issues related to Human Resources, Occupational Safety and Health and emergency preparedness, migrant workers etc.
- Industry Seminars on responses to Covid-19 are being delivered virtually, to provide factories with technical input and peer to peer learning.
- Mobile technologies for Worker Surveys are being explored as a means of gathering data on worker well-being and to connect workers to one another.
- Individual factory’s live Improvement Plan and Progress Reports continue to be updated and can be accessed via the Better Work portal.
- Virtual training is underway in many countries, with other countries to follow. Plans for additional online training in new formats are in development.
For those factories who experience temporary closure (either due to national restrictions, health reasons or reduced/cancelled orders), we are working on scenarios which may include extension of cycle length and/or reduced fees depending on how the situation develops over the coming weeks/months.
We have already implemented adjustments to our advisory and training services and are working to identify temporary alternatives to assessments and reporting.
In case of significant delays in assessments, we will explore the possibility of extending the expiry date of the credits beyond the end of 2020.
- Engage transparently with supply chain partners on current and future plans to avert job losses.
- Follow responsible retrenchment guidelines if job losses are unavoidable.
- Refer to national laws for provisions on disruption to hours and wages.
- Show flexibility and proceed with purchases despite delays in assessments or reports. Use the other information available on the Better Work portal e.g. Improvement Plan or Progress Reports.
- Avoid scenarios that put additional pressure on factories such as asking them to hold merchandise already produced, hold/store materials for cancelled or delayed orders or, hold shipments in ports.
- Provide additional direct support to factories/workers where you can e.g. via more flexible payment terms or support in maintaining social security contributions.
28 April 15:00 (CET): Global Webinar to mark the World Day of Safety and Health at Work (The webinar will be live-streamed on the ILO YouTube Channel)
- 23 April: Virtual learning seminar on work suspension and contract termination
- 28 April: Virtual learning seminar on emergency preparedness
- 5 May: Virtual learning seminar on female leadership and COVID-19
- 8 May: Virtual training on machine safety to advisory factories
- 20 May: Effective Problem Solving
- 26 May: The Termination of the employment Contract
- 27 May: Gender mainstreaming in the garment industry
- 28 May: Roles and Responsibilities of workers’ representative and Management in industrial relations
- 23 & 24 April: Virtual training on Occupational Safety & Heath
- 23 April: Virtual legal forum with brands (webinar)
- 24 April: GEAR project kick-off event in the North of Vietnam
- 29 April: Virtual industry seminar for factories
- 6 May: Virtual training on Labour law for the garment industry
- 13 May: Virtual training on Compensation & Benefits – Advanced course
- 27 & 28 May: Virtual training on Quality management