Workers and unions

Our focus includes embedding gender equality, diversity and inclusion as foundational principles for inclusive development, as well as ensuring the full respect, promotion and realization of freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining throughout garment supply chains and in all Better Work factories.


Workers can be advocates and effective change agents within their factories.

To help achieve this, we work with unions and workers to help realize their rights on the factory floor and find ways to boost their skills so that they can engage in productive discussions and negotiate with their employers.

When workers and their representatives participate in factory-level worker-management committees, they have a greater say in their factory conditions. Impact assessment research shows that these committees are most successful when worker representatives are elected and when women are represented proportionally to their workplace presence: their voices lead to better working environments and reduce the prevalence of sexual harassment and verbal abuse in factories.

We work with trade unions to ensure existing unions participate in those committees and that workers have the capacity to represent their fellow workers in advancing their rights and interests, as partners in dialogue with employers.

At the sectoral and national levels, we leverage the ILO’s unique technical expertise to support national constituents, including unions, to strengthen and enable social dialogue at the workplace by building their capacity and sharing data and evidence.

The presence of worker organizations and the respect for the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining, including collective bargaining agreements, are critical in amplifying the impact of Better Work. The presence of a union and a collective bargaining agreement are associated with lower non-compliance related to salaries and benefits, contracts, and occupational safety, health and welfare standards.

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