A Dutch Coalition Wants to Improve Garment Factory Conditions in Developing Countries

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A Dutch coalition has presented an agreement, drafted under the guidance of the Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands (SER), to address supply chain problems in developing countries.

Industry organizations and trade unions, including Solidaridad and Four Paws Netherlands, have joined forces with the Dutch government in a bid to better conditions in textile and garment factories in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Turkey by tackling wages and work hours.

In addition, the coalition has agreed to alleviate the industry’s adverse impact on the environment by saving on raw materials and creating a circular economy, as well as reducing water, energy and chemical consumption.

“By signing this agreement, these parties are committing themselves jointly for the first time to making the sector sustainable,” Mariëtte Hamer, chair of SER, said in a statement.

Securing funding is the next step, followed by having the agreement signed in June by least 35 companies that together represent at least 30 percent of sales in the Netherlands. The parties will then also sign it.

After that, participating enterprises will identify the issues that affect their suppliers at all stages of the supply chain and draw up an annual strategy with specific objectives for a period of three to five years, which the industry organizations and trade unions will support.

Each year, the parties will issue a joint report on their activities under the agreement and the results achieved, and from the third year onwards, the individual participating enterprises will also be communicating publicly on their own account.

“This is very good news for all those people who are still working excessively long days in dangerous conditions for very low pay,” Lilianne Ploumen, Dutch minister of foreign trade and development cooperation, said. “It’s also good news for the industry as a whole and for the consumer: everyone will be better off as a result.”

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