SECO will continue to support the programme in Asia and especially in its partner countries, Indonesia and Vietnam with a contribution of CHF12m (US$12.5m) between 2017 and 2021 ( Photo credit: ©Better Work, ILO/IFC)

SECO will continue to support the programme in Asia and especially in its partner countries, Indonesia and Vietnam with a contribution of CHF12m (US$12.5m) between 2017 and 2021 ( Photo credit: ©Better Work, ILO/IFC)

Switzerland has pledged to continue to support Better Work, a flagship programme of the International Labour Organization (ILO), with a US$12.5m investment to help improve working conditions in the global garment industry.

The country's State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) said today (11 July) the four-year investment will help lift millions of people out of poverty by promoting decent work, driving business competitiveness and encouraging inclusive economic growth.

A joint venture of the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Better Work programme operates in seven countries. It works to promote compliance with international labour standards and national law in global supply chains as a basis for building socially responsible export strategies, and enhances enterprise-level economic and social performance.

SECO's announcement came on the first day of the World Trade Organization's 'Aid for Trade' conference taking place in Geneva this week. In order to reach even more people along the garment supply chain, SECO will continue to support the programme in Asia and especially in its partner countries, Indonesia and Vietnam, with a contribution of CHF12m (US$12.5m) between 2017 and 2021.

The investment represents Switzerland's "firm commitment" to enhancing international trade and competitiveness, says SECO, while also creating more and better jobs that support countries' social and economic development.

"As delegates from around the world gather in Geneva to discuss how trade can support the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Better Work provides a concrete and successful example of how better business practices promote decent work, gender equality and better living conditions for millions of people," adds SECO head of economic cooperation and development, Raymund Furrer.

Switzerland has been a core donor of Better Work since 2009, helping the programme grow to reach 1,450 clothing and footwear factories and 1.9m workers across four continents.

Dan Rees, director of the programme at the ILO, says Switzerland's commitment to Better Work will continue to help significantly scale its impact.

"As part of our new strategy, we will leverage existing and new partnerships to expand our reach to workers tenfold, influence business practices in the international garment industry and use our data and experience to reshape the global policy dialogue on decent work."