Better Work’s vision is for a global garment industry that lifts millions of people out of poverty by providing decent work, empowering women, driving business competitiveness and promoting inclusive economic growth. In collaboration with other International Labour Organization (ILO) programmes, Better Work is implementing this vision in Ethiopia.
Over the last decade Ethiopia has enjoyed rates of economic growth consistently higher than other countries in the region and, at an average 11 percent, some of the highest in the world. However the country remains among the least developed and faces distinct challenges with underdeveloped regulatory institutions, poorly functioning labour markets and inadequate access to finance and trade opportunities for business.
The country’s government aims, through a broad Industrial Development Strategic Plan, to achieve middle income status over the next decade. At the invitation of the government and other Ethiopian stakeholders, Better Work’s parent organization, the ILO, has initiated a comprehensive and coordinated intervention to advance decent work and inclusive industrialization in the country.
The textile and garment sector has been identified as a key priority for the first phase of this strategy. Better Work will be instrumental in this phase through strengthening enterprise level practices, building labour inspectorate capacity and, ultimately, providing a blueprint for the expansion of decent work practices into other industries.
The Ethiopian textile and apparel sector
While Ethiopia’s first industrial textile factory was established in 1939 catering to the domestic market, Ethiopia’s textile and apparel sector has only recently experienced a boom in export-led growth. According to the Ethiopian Textile Industry Development Institute, the number of textile and apparel factories grew from 100 in 2014 to 177 in 2016. Textile and apparel products represent 17% of total manufacturing value and 0.6% of total GDP. In 2016, exported textile and apparel products amounted to USD 78 million, which represents 2.9% of the country’s total exports, with an average annual growth rate of 4.62% over the last 3 years. According to GTP II, the sector is expected to grow by around 40% per year in the next two years. Presently, the apparel sector employs approximately 62,000 workers, the majority of them women.
How are we going to work in Ethiopia
The main objective of the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) programme strategy is to see improved respect of workers’ rights and responsibilities leading to greater incomes and compensation, and enhanced safety, equality, voice, and representation. The plan also aims to lift Industrial productivity and competitiveness and encourage accountable and transparent government institutions.
Together with other ILO programmes SCORE, INWORK, Employment Injury Insurance (EII), Labour Inspection/ Occupational Safety and Health Branch and Vision Zero Fund, we aim to:
♦ Establish a system for sustainable and inclusive compliance with national labour law – guided by international labour standards.
♦ A more productive and competitive garment and textile sector, better able to compete in global supply chains.
♦ Build sound industrial relations systems at the factory and national level.
♦ Establish a sustainable workplace injury prevention, protection and compensation system.