Feedback is being sought on a new Fairtrade Textile Standard being developed to improve conditions for workers along the textile and garment supply chain, including the provision of a living wage.

The initiative comes from Fairtrade International, which introduced Fairtrade certified cotton in 2005 and is now looking to extend its approach to making the complex textile supply chain “more fair.” The organisation says it goal is to reach often-overlooked workers, such as weavers and dyers, so that they too can benefit from Fairtrade.

A draft of the standard has been developed after mock audits were carried out last year with textile producers in India and South Africa. It is now being put to public consultation, with comments and contributions are sought from civil society organisations, producers, traders and experts.

Fairtrade International has over 20 years’ experience in advocating better working conditions for small producers and hired workers, but suggests “no substantial improvements have been made for workers in the textile industry” since the collapse of the Rana Plaza building two years ago.

This is partly due to the complex production chain, with a finished piece of clothing going through many individual steps, from spinning to weaving or knitting, to dyeing and decorating.

The proposed standard includes requirements relating to unionisation and freedom of association, workers’ health and safety, and environmental regulations. The independent certifier Flocert will be responsible for monitoring these requirements.

The Fairtrade approach goes beyond certification and monitoring to offer support and training to producers in developing countries.

Indeed, Fairtrade certified organisations have long been required to pay the respective national minimum wage or regional industry wage. Yet these often fall short of a sustainable income for workers. Fairtrade International has strengthened its requirements around a living wage, which will be included in the new textile standard.

The draft version of the Fairtrade textile standard, developed in cooperation with various stakeholder groups and tested directly in producer countries, is being put to public consultation until 8 May.

Which additional aspects need to be considered? Should anything be changed? As part of its multi-stakeholder approach, Fairtrade is asking experts, producers, traders and civil society to take part in the development of this standard. All comments will be collected and considered in further stages of development.

Click here to take part in the consultation.