As the ITMF(International Textiles Manufacturers Federation) Annual conference begins in Nairobi on the 7th of September. The SLCP Secretariat wanted to share a newsletter that was sent to ITMF members on why they became a signatory to the SLCP.

By Christian Schindler, Director General, ITMF

After the ITMF Annual Conference 2017 in Bali, ITMF has launched a project “Audit Initiative”, which is based on the previous work done by the Committee of Home Textile Producers.

Meantime, ITMF and IAF (International Apparel Federation) have joined forces with the objective to represent the global textile and apparel industry with a unified voice.

In the ITMF Newsletter No. 33 (June 2018), we had reported that the ITMF became a signatory of the Social Labor Convergence Project (SLCP). The SLCP was founded as a result of the proliferation of audits on social and labour conditions in the textile, apparel and footwear industry.

There are dozens and dozens of different social standards (e.g. WRAP, BSCI, etc.) that often require more or less similar social audit questions. Retailers and brands have either chosen one of these standards and/or have developed their own company standards and audit systems.

In order to be compliant with the various requests from different customers, textile, apparel and footwear companies have to spend a lot resources and time on audits to be compliant with each and every standard put forward by their numerous customers. With time this multitude of audits requests has led to both a standard and audit fatigue.

Not only textile, apparel and footwear manufacturers, but also retailers and brands are more and more complaining about the amount of resources required to develop and/or audit the social and working conditions either through their own audit teams or through third parties, so called certifying bodies (e.g. SGS, Bureau Veritas, etc.).

The Social Compliance Environment consists of a universe of players (see the graphic below).

The SLCP (Social & Labor Convergence Project) is an industry-owned assessment and verification methodology. The core of the SLCP is the development of a simple, unified and effective industry-wide assessment tool. What does this mean and what not?

It means … It does NOT mean …
developing a standard agnostic assessment framework (tool, verification methodology and guidance) setting minimum requirements
collecting compliance and performance information from production facilities being a scoring/ranking
saving the data in an excel-based tool being a certification program
verifying the collected data being a Code of Conduct or Standard
relocating funds previously spent on audits being an IT platform or database

Crucial to the success of the SLCP will be:

  • endorsement of the data collection tool and verification methodology that ensures the integrity and accuracy of the collected data,
  • the acceptance of the tool by the standard holders and the retailers & brands,
  • the terms and conditions for the usage of the assessment framework, and
  • an operational plan to facilitate the adoption of the assessment framework

In the 4th quarter of 2018 the SLCP will test assessment tool with textile, apparel and footwear companies in two countries (Sri Lanka and China). This Light Operation will provide additional information about the strengths and weaknesses of the tool and will thus allow to take in important feedback from the companies applying the tool. The big roll-out of the assessment tool is planned for 2019.

The desired outcome is that all stakeholders can make their own judgement on what is or what is not acceptable (compliant) based on essential, relevant and credible data. For the success of the SLCP it will be crucial that all stakeholders – manufacturers, brands/retailers, standard holders, etc. work together to develop and adopt an effective tool with a transparent and practicable methodology.

At the upcoming ITMF Annual Conference 2018 in Nairobi, one General Session will be dedicated to the SLCP. In the session there will be speakers from different stakeholders that will discuss the status of the project and the next steps. The speakers are:

  • Karim Shafei, Gherzi, Switzerland (Project leader of the “ITMF Audit Initiative”)
  • Janet Mensink, SLCP, The Netherlands
  • Caner Soytas, Nike, Turkey
  • Helen (Haiying) Chen, Esquel Group Beijing Representative Office, China

About ITMF

The International Textile Manufacturers Federation (ITMF) is an international forum for the world’s textile industries, dedicated to keeping the world-wide membership constantly informed through surveys, studies and publications, participating in the evolution of the industry’s value chain and through the organization of annual conferences as well as publishing considered opinions on future trends and international developments.

ITMF is committed to coordinate, represent and promote the textile industry at the international level.