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The United Nations’ International Labour Organization (ILO) is one organisation fighting on behalf of workers around the world—pushing for international legislation that ensures no one falls through the cracks. In a big stride forward for the garment industry on 21 June 2019, the ILO adopted a new convention on violence and harassment.
The new convention establishes international agreements to protect workers from violence and intimidation in the workplace. While it may sound like an easy measure to get on board with, it’s one that we at Fair Wear pushed hard to get all UN member states to openly support. This is because member states that ratify the treaty must then go on to prohibit violence and harassment in their national legislation, which in many countries, is still not yet required. Once national laws are in place, more pressure is put on all clothing brands to take real action against violence and intimidation in factories.
The convention passed thanks to the efforts of a lot of players across the industry who joined together to supply evidence for why such a convention is vital. At Fair Wear, it’s one of our core beliefs that factories free of violence and harassment should be the norm. That’s why we were passionate advocates of the convention from the beginning, pushing for its passing alongside trade union partners Mondiaal FNV, CNV Internationaal and others. Together with our partners, we distributed a petition and put together a report outlining the nature and prevalence of gender-based violence in the industry.
Eagerly watching the voting livestream from the Fair Wear office, our staff broke out incheers when the convention was finally approved. While we faced a lot of resistance along the way, we were heartened by what can happen when players across the supply chain come together to fight for workers and make fair workplaces the norm. In the days after its passing, we also went one step further, calling on the Dutch parliament and ILO delegation to support the new convention. As we move forward, we will continue to fight for its implementation.While our work is never done, its wins like these that keep us going.
Learn more about gender-based violence in the garment industry.