Policy Engagement

In recent years, Better Work has focused increasingly on influencing progressive labour policy, through our unique convening ability and our access to reliable data and evidence. This is a key aspect of Better Work’s vision for long-term sustainable change in the global garment industry, in which stakeholders are supported by policies that prioritize the wellbeing of the industry and its workers.  

Many decent work deficits cannot be tackled only at the workplace level. Sustainable solutions require policy and institutional reform by constituents at the sectoral, national and global levels. Better Work’s impact can be even stronger when embedded within broader ILO policy interventions.

Data-Driven Policy Engagement

Better Work has provided support to governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations to sustain and improve compliance with labour laws, including those based on core labour standards, and respect for fundamental principles and rights at work. However, barriers to sustained improvements across all country programmes still exist. A key consideration is how Better Work can be more impactful in working in tandem with the ILO’s efforts to strengthen labour administrations, including public inspection, national social dialogue institutions, and labour market policies. As part of the ILO, Better Work has strong convening power to bring stakeholders together to address the underlying causes of persistent non-compliances in the sector. This role is increasingly important as constituents develop long-term strategic plans for sustainable growth. However, there is still much to be done to institutionalize social dialogue platforms, so they become effective enough to drive continuous, positive change. Better Work’s unique quality data about compliance, working conditions, and enterprise performance in the garment sector is valuable to empower national constituents to develop informed evidence-based policy. Better Work can strengthen its ability to influence good policymaking in the future by improving the analysis and communication of data collected by the programme, and aggregating data and evidence from different sources, including constituents and other institutions.

Better Work contributed to the ILO’s efforts to support implementation of regulatory reforms associated with the EU-Vietnam trade agreement. Better Work’s approach of factory worker management dialogue became enshrined in the national labour code, promoting communication and collaborative problem solving across the economy. Better Work has also contributed to the country’s new Garment and Footwear Strategy, which has a strong focus on improving working conditions, investing in new skills and reducing the industry’s impact on the environment.

Better Work is a means by which countries can demonstrate progress in implementing national laws and ratifying ILO conventions, which are included in supplier requirements in some markets. In Bangladesh and Egypt, for example, such incentives have encouraged the countries to adopt ILO’s recommendations on labour law reform and improve compliance with ILO Core Conventions.

Ethiopia’s “One ILO” approach offers a strategic array of specific yet interconnected interventions. This model shows how Better Work can be effectively integrated into a broader ILO intervention, and how the programme can contribute to ILO’s strategic objectives. Harnessing trade and investment incentives is a key driver to reach these policy goals.

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