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October 5, 2022

Inditex, IndustriAll sign new protocol for decent work

Zara and Bershka brand owner, Inditex, has signed a new agreement with IndustriALL Global Union for the defence of decent work in global supply chains.

By Michelle Russell

Inditex signed the Global Framework Agreement (GFA) in 2007, through which almost three million people globally have benefitted from better working conditions. It was described as “a world first” and IndustriAll says it is still seen as a benchmark in the defence of decent work in global supply chains.

In commemoration of the anniversary, both parties are signing a new protocol reinforcing their commitment to continue engaging in mature industrial relations that aim to safeguard worker well-being.

This week, Oscar García Maceiras, CEO of Inditex, and Atle Høie, IndustriALL Global Union general secretary, signed the new protocol, which furthers social dialogue by reinforcing the Global Union Committee and its coordinating bodies, specifically establishing new mechanisms for cementing the role of the local unions for a better understanding of what the workers making the clothes need.

Under the new protocol, Inditex and IndustriALL will formulate a joint work plan which will focus on continued respect for the freedom of association, the right to collective bargaining and the provision of training to worker representatives, the textile group’s suppliers and its supply chain factory workers.

Inditex and IndustriALL are also making progress on a new workplace access protocol, which aims to learn about and monitor working conditions in the factories in Inditex’s supply chain, in order to understand the workers’ needs and to respond to them.

Atle Høie, IndustriALL general secretary, said: “Signing the GFA with Inditex was a breakthrough that has since lead the way for more responsible sourcing and proper industrial relations in the sector. It is fitting that we celebrate the first 15 years by signing a protocol that takes our relationship to a new level in terms of respect for fundamental trade union rights. The fact that we agree with Inditex to increase the role of our local and national unions and to firmly defend their right to organize and bargain collectively in the supply chains gives hope to many.”

Óscar García Maceiras, CEO of Inditex, added: “The protocol signed today, commemorating the 15th anniversary of the Framework Agreement between Inditex and IndustriALL, evidences our determination to strengthen respect for fundamental labour rights across our production chain and marks a fresh milestone in both organisations’ ongoing mission of improving the lives of the women and men who populate it.”

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.

The joint declaration pledges to respect freedom of association and collective bargaining rights, giving workers the right to join a union to advance their interests. It promotes social dialogue at all levels, and commits both organisations to working with governments and business organisations in source countries. 

The new agreement marks a new milestone in the relationship between Inditex and IndustriALL, which began 15 years ago. The Agreement was a significant step forward for the industry, providing a major boost to its sustainability and a very real chance to improve working conditions for the nearly three million people who work in the factories producing for the Spanish multinational globally.

Inditex is one of the world’s largest fashion retailers, with eight brands – Zara, Pull&Bear, Massimo Dutti, Bershka, Stradivarius, Oysho, Zara Home and Uterqüe.

Felix Peinado, director for the ILO in Spain, present at the signing ceremony, said: “In the Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy, ILO urges companies, in collaboration with their workers’ representatives, to enter into international framework agreements to commit to applying principles of decent work along their supply chains in all countries. Spanish unions Comisiones Obreras and UGT, together with Inditex, have been frontrunners in Spain with this agreement. I could not be prouder of this agreement or happier to celebrate its anniversary. The agreement is an example of how, with the combined commitment and hard work of companies and their workers’ representatives, it is possible to forge better working conditions around the world.”

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