More than 100 Indian suppliers to Swedish fashion retailer H&M have taken part in workshops to discuss the global framework agreement (GFA) that protects the rights of workers who make its products.

GFAs are designed to protect the interests of workers employed in all operations of the multinational companies who sign them, and are negotiated at a global level between trade unions and companies. They establish best standards on trade union rights, on health and safety, and on the labour relations principles adhered to by the company in its global operations, regardless of the standards existing in a particular country.

During the meetings, which were organised in Bengaluru and Delhi by H&M and the IndustriAll global union, H&M representatives underlined the necessity of having processes in place to ensure good business and to promote India as a good sourcing market.

"The GFA helps to build mutual trust and respect between unions and employers. Effective implementation of the GFA has positive outcomes for workers as well as business, with the creation of good reputations as suppliers. The GFA also facilitates the implementation of international labour standards," Christina Hajagos-Clausen, IndustriAll's textile director, told H&M suppliers at Bengaluru.

There are three steps to the GFA implementation:

  • A commitment to promote industrial relations at the factory level.
  • A national monitoring committee (NMC), that provides a national structure for dispute resolution through negotiations and a platform for collaboration and capacity building towards effective implementation of the GFA. The NMC in India includes representatives from H&M and IndustriAll, and is the first NMC to have only women members.
  • A steering group that plans and oversees practical aspects of the GFA, as well as provide support and guidance to the NMC.

IndustriAll and H&M say they will provide training for both management and union representatives on employers' responsibilities, workers' rights and obligations, industrial relations, collective bargaining agreements and peaceful conflict resolution.