21st century industrial relations: ACT at the International Labour Conference 2019

“Social dialogue, including collective bargaining and tripartite cooperation, provides an essential foundation of all ILO action and contributes to successful policy and decision-making in its member States.”

ILO Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work.

More than 6000 delegates from governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations attended this years’ International Labour Conference in Geneva where ACT presented its strategy of 21st century industrial relations in the global garment and footwear supply chain.

Celebrating 100 years of ILO, the International Labour Conference 2019 adopted a Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work that emphasizes the importance of collective bargaining and freedom of association to achieve decent work. The Declaration highlights the need for cross border cooperation in sectors with high international integration.

During the International Labour Conference, ACT organized a panel discussion to show how global companies and trade unions approach cross-border collaboration in practice. Representatives from H&M, Pentland Brands and IndustriALL explained how ACT is advancing 21 century industrial relations by creating a collaboration between national employers and trade unions and international brands and global trade unions.

In a globalized garment industry, progress towards an adequate living wage cannot be achieved at national level without changes in the purchasing practices including purchasing prices of global fashion brands. ACT member brands therefore adopted common global purchasing practice commitments as a first step.

To ensure that “purchasing practices facilitate the payment of a living wage” as per the ACT Memorandum of Understanding, ACT member brands discuss specific country support commitments with the national partners. These country commitments are offered to countries where employers and trade unions agree on collective bargaining agreements at industry level that secure substantial and regular wage increases exceeding as a minimum the rate of inflation and the productivity growth in the country.

ACT members underlined the importance of freedom of association and collective bargaining as indispensable enabling rights for achieving sustainable progress in wages and working conditions in the industry and welcomed the renewed commitment of the ILO and its member states to ensure that workers can freely access these rights.

Picture: ©Crozet / Poteau licenced under the CC-BY-ND 3.0.