News from Tamil Nadu: Video and Website

How does the work of Partnership Initiatives actually look like? Who do we work with on the ground? In 3:30 minutes our new video provides insights and impressions of the work in Tamil Nadu.

The Partnership Initiative aims at systemically improving the working conditions in the textile and garment industry in Tamil Nadu, South India, and focuses on making the situation of women and girls in spinning mills more socially acceptable.

There is usually little transparency and there are often major challenges with regard to social standards and working conditions: exploitation through lump-sum contracts, wages below the official minimum wage rates, excessive overtime, repression of trade unions, lack of freedom of association and gender-based violence pose a threat to local employees. Therefore, a training programme will support the planned establishment of complaints committees in 300 factories and inform workers and management about labour rights and complaint/grievance mechanisms.

In the video, Visalini S., one of over 150 trainers, talks about her work: “My job is to go and speak with the mill labourers and let them know about their rights and responsibilities and what are the incentives they have to get to be in a proper framework of organized labour.”

In addition, representatives of our implementing partner, the Multi-Stakeholder Initiative Tamil Nadu (MSI-TN), talk about their goals and activities.

In an open dialogue, local businesses, non-governmental organisations and other stakeholders discuss how they can jointly initiate positive changes. In addition to the recently kicked-off dialogue fora at district and state level (see this article from late March), the first annual conference in March also served to promote the dialogue activities. A delegation of the Textiles Partnership also participated in the annual conference.

More detailed information on the new website

The multi-stakeholder initiative Tamil Nadu (MSI-TN) recently relaunched their website, which now provides more detailed information. For example, a list of factories can be used to track training activities. In addition, the MSI-TN informs about the dialogue forums at the district level and provides training materials (in Tamil). The newsletter of the MSI-TN provides regular updates on the activities and projects on site. Interested? Click here for the website.

The MSI-TN is one of the main implementation partners of our Partnership Initiative Tamil Nadu in South India, alongside the non-governmental organisation SAVE (Social Awareness and Voluntary Education). Further partners of the Partnership Initiative are FEMNET e.V., the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), HUGO BOSS, KiK, OTTO GROUP and Tchibo, as well as the associated partners Brands Fashion and Transfair e.V.

First dialogue fora in Tamil Nadu (India)

Dialogue fora were launched with the first annual conference

The Multi-Stakeholder Initiative Tamil Nadu (MSI-TN) has a clear goal: To improve the conditions of workers in the textile industry in South India. In order to find corporate solutions, dialogue fora were established. The annual conference, which took place in Coimbatore in March 2019, gave the go-ahead for the new fora. Until February 2020, 36 district-level meetings and six meetings on state-level will take place.

The coordinator of the dialogue process, Rohini Chandrasekaran, is hopeful: “A happier and healthier workforce, working for the textile industry in Tamil Nadu – that’s what I hope for the next ten years.”

Since the project started in summer of 2018, the Partnership Initiative Tamil Nadu has been supporting the India-based MSI-TN to establish dialogue platforms on state-level and in the four districts Tirupur, Coimbatore, Erode and Dindigul. Regularly, numerous relevant stakeholders in the textile industry come together. Jointly, they discuss how to improve the working conditions in the textile industry systemically. At previous meetings the participants worked profoundly on topics such as “women’s rights at the workplace” or “social benefits”.

At the beginning of March a delegation from the Textiles Partnership made its way to Tamil Nadu. On the ground, the stakeholders of the Partnership Initiative got to know their implementation partners in person. Representatives of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Brands Fashion, FEMNET and HUGO BOSS took part in the delegation trip, accompanied by the Partnership Secretariat.

The main reason for the trip was the first annual conference of the MSI-TN in Coimbatore. Representatives from government, businesses and civil society convened to improve the conditions in the textile supply chain in Tamil Nadu and to cooperate in the dialogue in future.

During conversations with the local partners, interviews were recorded. While the long version video is still being finalized, you can here already get an impression of the work of the Partnership Initiative and its implementation partners.

The dialogue process is one module of the Partnership Initiative. More information about the activities and modules can be found in this factsheet.

Partners of the Partnership Initiative Tamil Nadu are FEMNET e.V., Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), HUGO BOSS, KiK, OTTO GROUP and Tchibo as well as the associated partners Brands Fashion and Transfair e.V.

Sustainable Man-Made Fibers: Call to viscose producers

Taking next steps: The Partnership for Sustainable Textiles engages in the development of sustainable and transparent supply chains regarding Man-Made-Cellulosic-Fibers, including viscose fiber.

In a joint letter, the Partnership calls on viscose producers worldwide to check on the sustainability of their manufacturing practices and to align them to the best available techniques for viscose production. Important aspects to focus on include responsible sourcing of raw materials, prevalently wood, and well-controlled utilisation of chemicals within fiber production.

By cooperating with initiatives and standards the Partnerships of Sustainable Textiles sees a great potential to increase the market share of sustainably produced MMCF and invites manufacturers to meet these challenges together.

Here you can find the letter in a German, English, Chinese and Turkish version.


Agreement on Sustainable Garments and Textiles publishes Annual Report

Our Dutch cooperation partner Agreement on Sustainable Garments and Textiles (AGT) looks back at a successful year 2018. The number of participating brands has risen to 92, representing nearly half of the Dutch garment and textile market. Collective projects, training courses, workshops and tools support members in driving sustainability in textile supply chains, often in cooperation with the Textile Partnership.

Since January 2018 AGT and the Textile Partnership jointly promote the risk based due diligence approach as described in the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains in the Garment and Footwear Sector. As AGT and the Textile Partnership are aligning on the basis of the OECD recommendations both agreed on optional mutual associate membership.

Find the Annual Report here.

Second Basic Training Pilot on chemical management completed

The Partnership Initiative Chemical and Environmental Management aims at introducing a sustainable and innovative chemical and environmental management in the production facilities. By substituting harmful chemicals of wet processes, labour safety as well as environmental protection can be improved. Furthermore, the Partnership Initiative aims at transmitting knowledge on how to store and handle chemicals in order to reduce the risk of accidents within the production facilities.

To raise the awareness on chemical management and to facilitate the adoption of relevant measures for textile producers, the Partnership Initiative Chemical and Environmental Management developed a Basic Training. This Basic Training consists of seven modules and mainly addresses decision makers and the middle management of factories dealing with wet processes and having no or only limited experience in the area of chemical management. The aim is to promote basic knowledge about sound chemical management in textile supply chains, with a focus on wet processes. The Basic Training takes one day and consists of lectures as well as practical examples and tasks.

After the first pilot in Lahore, Pakistan, in December 2018 the second Basic Training Pilot was successfully completed in Guangzhou, China, in March 2019. In cooperation with TÜV Rheinland 33 participants, among others suppliers from Aldi Nord, Aldi Süd, Brands Fashion, Deuter, KiK, Orsay, S.oliver and Takko, were trained and introduced to the following topics:

  1. Chemicals in Textiles – Why you should be aware
  2. Chemical Management
  3. Good Housekeeping
  4. Wastewater and Sludge Treatment
  5. Health Protection and Occupational Safety
  6. Risk Analysis and Action Planning
  7. Evaluation and Possible Next Steps

To be able to offer the Basic Training to interested brands in the long-term, the Partnership Initiative Chemical and Environmental Management is currently working on a structure for anchoring the Partnership’s trainings.

Textiles Partnership meets to work and learn jointly

At 11th April more than 100 members of the Textiles Partnership met at the Partnership’s Working Meeting in Cologne. Ongoing and new projects of the Textiles Partnership were discussed in 14 break-out sessions. The focus was put on the projects regarding living wages and grievance mechanisms as well as the implementation and integration of block chain technologies into the supply chain. Further topics were the promotion of organic cotton, sustainable man-made fibres, chemical and environmental management, water waste standards, combating child labour and approaches to reduce greenhouse gases in the textile industry. The sessions at the Working Meeting covered almost the whole range of topics within the Textiles Partnership. The members worked together with the aim of reaching real improvements within textile supply chains – on an individual as well as on a collective level in the form of Partnership Initiatives.

The next Working Meeting will take place on 18th September 2019 in Hamburg.

New Publication: Procurement of virgin wool

Happy sheep = good wool? Not automatically. The newly published guideline explains how to keep sheep under good conditions and how to procure sustainable wool. It addresses animal welfare, due diligence and measures against flystrike.

The ‘Five Freedoms’ set international animal welfare standards. Concerning sheep farming this means among others that sheep should not suffer due to overheating, careless shearing, and painful castration methods.

To control the flystrike a surgical procedure called ‘Mulesing’ was introduced about 90 years ago. In this procedure the skin around the sheep´s tail is removed leading to painful wounds. The Partnership for Sustainable Textiles has a clear position against mulesing. The guideline presents alternatives to this procedure.

As in every economic field, due diligence is also important in the process of sheep farming and wool production. Companies need to identify, assess and address virgin wool specific risks. Traceability and assessing key points in the supply chain is essential.

The publication can be found here.

bevh becomes member of the Textiles Partnership

We are happy to welcome the Bundesverband E-Commerce und Versandhandel Deutschland e.V. (bevh) as a new member to the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles.

The bevh represents the interests of its approximately 600 members and is at the same time a platform for networking. The members of the online- and mail-order-business embrace 75 per cent of the German business-to-consumer-turnover.

Joint Statement by the Accord members of the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles

As members of the Textiles Partnership and the Accord, we again urge the Government of Bangladesh to comply with existing agreements concerning the Transition Accord and thereby, reaffirm the demands expressed in a letter to the Government in August 2018.

Please find the complete letter of 28 August 2018 here.


International Women’s Day. Engagement for women / workers in south India

On today’s World Women’s Day a delegation from the Partnership Initiative Tamil Nadu visits the south Indian state of the same name.

It works on-site on the improvement of the working conditions in the textile industry with the implementation partners and in dialogue with representatives of all actors in the local textile industry.

For about nine months, the following members of the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles have been involved in the Partnership Initiative: HUGO BOSS, KIK, OTTO GROUP, Tchibo, FEMNET, the BMZ, Transfair, and Brands Fashion.

About 80% of the workers, who work in spinning mills, are women. Often, they receive wages below the official minimum wage, have to do excessive overtime hours, and suffer from sexual harassment. Furthermore, the formation of trade unions and the freedom of association are suppressed.

Mary Vijakula, from the local implementation partner SAVE, reaffirms great importance to the Partnership of Sustainable Textiles. Often, young women cannot openly claim their rights: “It is a great step forward that the Initiative of the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles directly involves the young women inside the factory in setting up an appropriate mechanism to provide redress for grievances.” (You can find the whole Interview with Mary here).

What has been achieved so far: 61 spinning mills signed an agreement to conduct trainings. About 3,500 workers have been informed about their rights due to the trainings. In cooperation with the management of the factories, in the end of the training sessions compliance committees will be established and accompanied in their committee work.

Next steps: By the end of February 2020, training programs will be conducted in up to 300 factories.

In addition to that, the dialogue between local actors will continuously be strengthened through the multi-stakeholder initiative Tamil Nadu (MSI-TN) – also in direct contact with members of the Textiles Partnership.

The first milestones on the way to improve the working conditions have been achieved.
Nevertheless, there is still a long way to go to achieve the initiative’s ambitious goals.

Further information about the Partnership Initiative can be found here.