COVID-19 is having a major impact on the industry. In line with SLCP’s vision to improve working conditions, cooperation between supply chain partners is needed more than ever. SLCP cannot address the challenges alone. Therefore, we have been actively engaged in industry-wide response initiatives in the past few weeks. We are pleased to now share that SLCP is endorsing the Global Social Partners Call to Action. Furthermore, we will support other initiatives, including a call to action by a coalition of MSIs. Our experience with the collective and collaborative development of an industry-wide, standardized methodology for social and labor performance assessment in apparel and footwear supply chains can be put to good use in these times.

 

The COVID-19 impact is massive and is already disrupting supply chains. According to the latest estimations from the ILO, 2.7 billion jobs in total will be impacted and many of these people will fall back into poverty. A major shakeout in our industry is expected that will cause a dramatic shift from business as we knew it. It has never been more important for industries to come together to protect incomes and improve working conditions. SLCP can contribute its specific knowledge and network in a wider platform. Given its vision, SLCP wants to take part in the debate.

In this context, the SLCP Council recently set up a Task Force to explore how SLCP can support the industry’s response to the pandemic. We are pleased to share that the SLCP Council has endorsed the widely supported Global Social Partners Call to Action and supports another call to action issued by a group of MSIs. Please find below the details of these initiatives.

 

Global Social Partners Call to Action

The global call to action is supported by the International Organisation of Employers (IOE), the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), IndustriALL Global Union, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and major brands and retailers that so far include several SLCP signatories: Adidas, C&A, H&M Group, International Apparel Federation, Inditex, PVH Corporation, VF Corporation, and Zalando SE. The call to action defines priorities to protect the most vulnerable workers, including through emergency financial measures to support workers and enable ongoing payment of wages, and a focus on protection for workers and employers in countries with the weakest health and social protection systems. More information about the companies and organizations that have supported the call to action can be found here.

SLCP has followed the discussion closely during the development of this call to action, which demonstrates widespread industry support for a shared set of key priorities. In line with SLCP’s vision and mission to improve working conditions through convergence and collaborative action, the Council has approved fully endorsing these priorities. The ILO will convene an International Working Group, coordinated by IOE and the ITUC to further elaborate the implementation steps necessary to deliver the commitments set out in the call to action. SLCP will seek to take part in the Working Group if and when we can contribute, given our own mission of convergence on assessments and providing credible verified data on social conditions to stakeholders.

 

Additional COVID-19 Initiatives and Calls to Action

Given the impact of this crisis, several groups are working on responses and calls to action. Some of our signatories are taking a lead in these initiatives. SLCP engages if and when there is an overlap with our mission. In recent weeks, the Secretariat has been engaged with a group of multi-stakeholder initiatives working to produce a call to action for the garment sector. Their joint statement, published on April 21, aligns closely with the key priorities set out in the Global Social Partners call to action. It includes a call for governments to provide relief for international supply chains and to strengthen social protection floors, and for brands and retailers to implement responsible purchasing practices and safeguard factory working conditions.

Endorsing the broad initiative of the Global Social Partners was our first priority. In addition, SLCP appreciates the efforts of the MSIs to work together; now is not the time for fragmented and competing initiatives. SLCP will be listed as a “Supporting Organization” in the statement to demonstrate our support for this collaborative approach. SLCP will remain focused on implementing the Converged Assessment Framework, whilst ensuring that we retain a close link with other organizations working within our field.

 

Why is SLCP supporting these calls to action at this time?

Anna Burger, Expert on the SLCP Council and member of the  Taskforce SLCP response to COVID-19, explains why the Council has now endorsed the global statement and supported the MSI statement, saying “We felt it was essential to wait for the results of discussions between the global social partners before supporting any other initiatives. This type of Social Dialogue by the key stakeholders in the sector will necessarily play a leading role in how the industry recovers from this and future crisis. We welcome the outcome of this work and support the priorities defined. There will also be an important role for MSIs to play in protecting workers and holding the key players to account. Collaboration is at the heart of SLCP’s approach to achieving its vision and mission, and we look forward to contributing with our activities to mitigate the negative impacts of the crisis on workers’ lives.”