Better Work Reignites Collaboration with Korean Garment Intermediaries at Seoul Forum 2024

24 Jun 2024

SEOUL – After a six-year break, The Better Work Programme held a forum on 8 May 2024 to re-engage with key intermediaries in the garment industry. The event aimed to strengthen relationships with vendors, agents, group manufacturers, and licensees, emphasizing their crucial role in promoting ethical and competitive supply chains globally.

The Better Work Programme, an ILO/IFC partnership, has long recognized the significant impact of intermediaries in the garment sector. Korea’s extensive investment in and ownership of factories across several Better Work Country Programmes, particularly in Indonesia where approximately 80% of garment factories in the programme are Korean investments or have partnerships with Korean intermediaries, make this engagement critical. The Seoul forum serves as an ideal platform to renew these relationships. Arron Goldman, Senior Programme and Operations Officer of Better Work Indonesia addressed participants in his opening remarks:

“We are here because the work that you all do within the garment sector – notably in Indonesia – is highly impactful. So, we made it a strategic priority to meet with you this year, face to face. Six years is too long to delay, and we hope to reignite the relationship so that it can be mutually beneficial for both parties.”

Goldman added that Better Work continues to work on the ground to support factories and constituents (governments, employer associations and trade unions) and to align priorities of brands and retailers. “The role of intermediaries in ensuring compliance and sustainability is crucial, because they oversee the progress of factories, and they also communicate with brands for a better mutual understanding of needs,” Goldman said.  

Hosted by Kukdong Corporation, the forum attracted more than 30 participants from 20 of Seoul’s leading garment intermediaries. “Your roles are crucial in achieving best practices in labour-management relations and creating a family-like work environment. Join us in sharing ideas and opinions to enhance our factories’ safety and work environment,” said Harry Woo, CEO of Kukdong Corporation, welcoming the participants.

While this forum focused on Indonesia, Better Work presented a comprehensive overview of its efforts at the factory level, emphasizing labour standards and compliance. Participants were also divided into groups to engage in case study exercises on industrial relations and to propose strategic collaborations between the Better Work Programme and intermediaries.

The Better Work Seoul Forum marked a significant milestone in re-engaging with intermediaries. It highlighted their various roles in the garment industry’s future and reaffirmed Better Work’s commitment to fostering strong, collaborative relationships. The Forum also served as a platform to share strategies to bolster collaboration between Better Work and South Korean intermediaries, aimed at advancing sectorial improvements and fostering mutually beneficial partnership opportunities.

Juno Yim, a participant from Corporate Intelligence & Compliance at Sae-A Trading, expressed his appreciation for the event: “The Seoul Forum was an incredible opportunity to build a network and engage with colleagues in the garment industry, especially since I started my role during the pandemic. The interactions and discussions were invaluable for our collaborative efforts within the Better Work Programme.”

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