Sri Lanka has been selected for the official global rollout of the Social and Labour Convergence project – an initiative that aims to change the way apparel and footwear manufacturers are evaluated by their customers and address the challenge of audit fatigue.

The SLCP has been working to improve factory working conditions by creating a single assessment for all and providing access to more resources and improvements. 

It explains that “the industry is spending vast amounts of resources on audits, which are merely duplicative and not necessarily leading to change. To meaningfully improve labour conditions in the apparel and footwear industries, we must change the way we work. We have much further to go to create sustainable remediation, and we collectively believe a converged assessment framework will free up the resources and promote collaboration that will make tangible and lasting improvements on working conditions.”

The SLCP pilot project launched in October 2015, and over the last 30 months has gathered momentum, with more than 180 signatories currently having signed off on the Converged Assessment Framework they created together. This multi-stakeholder initiative includes 64 brands such as NIKE, H&M, Gap Inc and PVH, along with 38 manufacturers, as well as audit agencies and industry associations.

Organisers say Sri Lanka was selected as the launch country since its industry organisation – the Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) – was the first to sign up to the project.

37 factories and 17 verifiers were involved in training last month in Colombo conducted by JAAF, SLCP and ITC with the support of MAS Holdings and Hirdaramani Group.

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“There is a recognition that the only way to make a significant improvement in the industry is through collaboration and collective action,” explains Hirdaramani Group director, Nikhil Hirdaramani. “Major brands doing business in Sri Lanka have committed to adopting this tool for their suppliers. In the coming months it is expected that there will be a wide adoption of the SLCP Converged Assessment Framework, hereby increasing industry efficiency in the social and labour space.”

The SLCP says China is the second country it plans to roll the programme out to this year.