H&M and India’s Eastman Exports ink pact to end gender violence
The agreement — which is the first of its kind in Asia in the garment industry — has been signed with Tamil Nadu Textile and Common Labour Union (TTCU), Asia Floor Wage Alliance (AFWA), and Global Labour Justice – International Labour Rights Forum (GLJ-ILRF).
Fast-fashion brand H&M and its Tamil Nadu-based supplier Eastman Exports Global Clothing Private Limited co-signed a legally-binding agreement to end gender-based violence and harassment (GBVH).
The agreement — which is the first of its kind in Asia in the garment industry — has been signed with Tamil Nadu Textile and Common Labour Union (TTCU), an independent Dalit women-led union, Asia Floor Wage Alliance (AFWA), and Global Labour Justice – International Labour Rights Forum (GLJ-ILRF).
The agreement covers Natchi Apparels complex in Dindigul, which includes four garment units, two spinning mills and a printing unit, all of which are covered by the new agreement. The agreement comes over a year after the rape and murder of TTCU member Jeyesre Kathiravel, a Dalit woman and an employee of Natchi Apparels, by a supervisor in the same factory. Following the murder, it was TTCU, in partnership with AFWA, who led the fight to both, bring justice for Jeyesere’s family, and the campaign for such an agreement to be signed.
The Dindigul Agreement to Eliminate GBVH is the second legally-binding agreement in Asia to hold brands liable in the garment industry, but the first in terms of sexual harrasment and violence.
The present agreement puts in place several fail safes. First, there will be shop-floor monitors, elected and trained by TTCU, to whom anonymous complaints of harassment (physical and verbal) can be made. Secondly, gender-based violence training will be given to all staff members of the factory including workers, supervisors, management and Internal Committee members.
The Safe Circle model, AFWA says, is designed to bring in behavioural change in production lines by creating engagement between various groups (“victims”, “perpetrators” and “bystanders”) and involving the entire workplace. Not only does the agreement allow for termination or suspension from employment of anyone found to have inflicted GBVH on the women employees, Nandita, Campaigns and Communications Coordinator, AFWA, says that the supplier (Eastman) will be in danger of losing orders, if they are found to be in violation of the agreement.
This agreement is also the second such in the world in the garment industry (the first is the Lesotho Agreement). TTCU and AFWA view it as a win for both gender and caste justice.
Thivya Rakini, state president of TTCU, explains how harrowing negotiations in sexual harassment cases have been over the years and what TTCU hopes will change.
Source: The News Minute
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