Last week, the European Parliament’s Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL) adopted, with a wide majority (42 votes in favour, 4 against), its opinion on the EU flagship initiative on the garment sector for which Jean Lambert, Member of the European Parliament (Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance) is rapporteur.
In this opinion, the Committee stresses that while “voluntary initiatives to adopt an ecological, ethical and sustainable approach contribute positively to the textile sector; notes however that, on their own, they cannot adequately address fundamental labour rights, including workers’ protection, freedom of association, collective bargaining and issues such as child labour, health and safety, living wages, social security and working time; emphasises the need to move towards regulatory measures to be put in place and enforced by the countries concerned, aimed at ensuring respect for labour rights throughout the supply chain and the need to strengthen labour administrations and labour inspection systems and for the establishment of grievance mechanisms; stresses the importance of ensuring that national laws and regulations are in conformity with ILO core conventions”. In addition, the Committee suggests to promote skills training and lifelong learning as well as awareness of core labour rights while women empowerment should be a central objective. Among other points, the Committee stresses that the “responsibility should extend throughout the entire supply chain, including all sub-contractors […] and the EU is best placed to develop a common framework creating a legal obligation of corporate human rights due diligence for EU garment companies outsourcing production to third countries”.
The next step towards the adoption of this important report will be the exchange of views (planned for the end of February) on the 187 amendments to the draft report presented by Lola Sánchez Caldentey Member of the European Parliament (Confederal Group of the European United Left - Nordic Green Left) while the vote in plenary should take place in April.
SOLIDAR regrets the attempt, by the conservative forces within the European Parliament, to reduce the initiative to a mere voluntary corporate social responsibility framework and reiterates its full support to the adoption of binding frameworks as reiterated during the 105th ILO Conference last year.
As part of this work, SOLIDAR and our Belgian member FOS-socialistische solidariteit will host – during the month of March – maquilas workers representatives for an advocacy action in Brussels.