After a Global Framework Agreement signed a year ago was deemed a success, H&M, IndustriAll Global Union, and the Swedish trade union IF Metall have decided to permanently collaborate on efforts to improve worker-employer dialogue, including the establishment of fair “living wages”, at the Swedish retailer’s myriad suppliers. The new agreement, which was formalized last week, will continue to work toward improved industrial relations, complete with freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining by workers’ representatives, according to H&M. The system has already led to “several positive results,” the signing parties said. Chief among them is the enactment of national monitoring committees, comprising representatives from both H&M and IndustriAll’s affiliated trade unions, in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, and Turkey.
The committees help promote peaceable, good-faith negotiations between employers’ and workers’ organizations at the factory level.
H&M and IndustriAll offered, by way of example, a conflict at a textile factory in Myanmar that earlier this year resulted in strikes and employee dismissals. After a course of arbitration, all employees were rehired and a union formed to strengthen industrial relations and reduce the risk of future miscommunications.
The agreement helped enact national monitoring committees, which promote peaceable, good-faith negotiations between employers and workers.
“The support to factory level unions within the supply chain of H&M has been one key objective of the GFA between IndustriALL Global Union and H&M,” Christina Hajagos-Clausen, textile and garment industry director at IndustriAll, said in a statement.
Hajagos-Clausen called the registration of factory-level unions, many of which occurred during the first year of the agreement’s implementation, a “key step in the development of well-functioning industrial relations.”
That’s not to say that these nascent unions don’t still require support.
“It should be noted that these newly formed trade unions and their management counterparts need to have additional capacity building in order to achieve well- functioning industrial relations,” she added. “From our experience this year, these newly formed labor/management relations are fragile.”