March 21, 2016
Image (Den Haag, the Netherlands): Tom Roeleveld
The Dutch government, along with a group of trade organisations and NGOs, announced a textile covenant on the 9th of March 2016. The aim of the covenant is to prevent child labour and improve poor working conditions and low wages in textile producing countries such as Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Turkey.
The covenant was developed in light of the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh, which took place in 2013, where more than a thousand people were killed. It follows agreements such as the ‘Action plan for improving the sustainability of the Dutch textile and apparel sector’, which was created to improve the sustainability of the sector.
The nine themes within the agreement are:
- Discrimination and gender
- Child labour
- Forced labour
- Freedom of association
- Living wage
- Safe and healthy workplace
- Raw materials
- Water, energy and chemicals
- Animal welfare
In addition to the protection of employees in low wage countries, the signatory brands agree to inform consumers about the source and production process of their collections. Therefore, brands are expected to map their supply chains. If brands encounter risks, they should intervene and report on it.
At the moment, two labour unions (CNV and FNV), three trade organisations (Inretail, Modint and VGT) and five NGOs (Landelijke India Werkgroep, Solidaridad, Stop Kinderarbeid, Unicef and Vier Voeters) have signed the covenant.
The Dutch government expects 80% of clothing companies to sign the covenant by 2020. The success of the textile covenant largely depends on the support and financial assistance of the clothing companies involved.
You can read the full Covenant for Sustainable Garments and Textiles here (in Dutch): http://www.ser.nl/~/media/files/internet/publicaties/overige/2010_2019/2016/convenant-duurzame-kleding-textiel.ashx