Textile Units Enter Agreement With Netherlands On Sustainability

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Under the initiative of the government of Netherlands, a huge importer of fabrics and also a champion of labour and environment issues, over 300 textile and garment units in India have agreed transition to production practices that ensure safety and well-being of workers and protection of the environment.

The agreement, which will be governed by Netherlands laws and is signed by Dutch minister for foreign trade and development EMP Ploumen, has 64 companies, representing 80 consumer brands. Among the brands represented are G-Star Raw, Wibra and Manderlay of the Netherlands. The aim is for 80% of garment and textile business to be part of this agreement by 2021. These brands operate in Europe, Asia and Africa.

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The agreement was facilitated by the Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands. For over a year, negotiations were held with manufacturing units, the Dutch government, and NGOs like Stop Child Labour Coalition to arrive at a consensus agreement. Among the states in India represented by this agreement are Kerala, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Karnataka. The agreement provides for:

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1. Ending unfair discrimination against workers, especially on grounds of gender

2. Preventing child labour

3. Ending forced labour

4. Encouraging freedom of association

5.  Ensuring a living wage

6. Offering safety and healthcare provision for workers

7. Responsible use of raw material

8. Prevention of water pollution through chemical use and

9. Animal welfare

The agreement also provides for an independent complaints and disputes committee, which local groups and NGOs can use to file complaints if they come across cases of abuse of workers or harm to animals or environment. The decision of the committee, under the agreement, will be binding.         

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