Inditex and IndustriALL strengthen their commitment to raise standards in the global garment supply chain

Inditex and IndustriALL Global Union, which represents over 50 million workers in 140 countries, have expanded their framework agreement to strengthen the implementation of mature industrial relations within the retail group's supply chain.   The new agreement designates union experts within the retail group's supplier clusters in its core garment-producing regions to monitor, supervise and accompany its suppliers worldwide. Inditex's supply chain is divided into 11 clusters: Spain, Portugal, Morocco and Turkey – responsible for the majority of the group's production, as well as  Vietnam, Cambodia, Bangladesh, India, Argentina, Brazil and China.

Inditex's chairman, Pablo Isla, and the general secretary of IndustriALL, Jyrki Raina, signed this sector-pioneering agreement in Brussels today alongside the High-level Conference on Responsible Management of the Supply Chain in the Garment Sector organised by the European Commission. This collaboration agreement reinforces the framework agreement reached by the two organisations in 2007 and renewed in 2014.

Furthermore, Inditex and IndustriALL will develop specific frameworks for the group's supplier clusters according to each region's specific characteristics. The first framework agreement of this kind will be established in the Turkey cluster.

"This new initiative marks a huge milestone in improving the global garment production chain. It should be viewed against the backdrop of the all-important agreement reached with IndustriALL in 2007, which has proven the most effective way of supporting and training garment suppliers worldwide. I am certain that with these reinforced efforts we will go on to achieve even more ambitious improvements," said Pablo Isla,

IndustriALL's general secretary, Jyrki Raina, said"this agreement demonstrates genuine and unprecedented commitment on Inditex's part to enhancing the rights of the people working in its suppliers' factories, in turn giving these workers greater power to negotiate their pay and labour conditions with these suppliers. The only way to bring about real change in the global garment industry is by strengthening workers and unions".

Speech at the European Commission

The chairman of Inditex, Pablo Isla, was the first speaker in the line-up for today's plenary session of the High-level Conference on Responsible Management of the Supply Chain in the Garment Sector organised by the European Commission in Brussels, giving him the chance to outline the company's sustainability efforts.

With the aim of sharing best practices in production chain management, the conference brought together representatives from European institutions, producer countries, garment makers, academic institutions, international organisations and other stakeholders. Other speakers included European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Nimica, the European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Labour Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegn, the Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Lilianne Ploumen, the Bangladesh Minister for Labour and Employment, Mujibul Haque Chunnu, the General Secretary of IndustriALL, Jyrki Raina and the CEO of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, Jason Kibbey.

"People are what really count"

Pablo Isla began his presentation highlighting; "we must be clear that people are the only thing that really count in any organisation, institution or company". To this end he emphasised as the importance of 'respect', 'motivation', 'inspiration', 'entrepreneurial spirit' and 'teamwork' at Inditex and why they are embedded within its corporate culture. This culture prioritises the need for genuine respect for people including diversity, equal opportunities, fair pay and freedom of association.

When underpinned by such respect, sustainability emerges as a natural strategic asset, claimed Isla, as the sustainability concept means placing efficient resource management and social responsibility at the heart of any company which has set its sights on the long-term. Isla went on to highlight the significance of traceability in becoming truly sustainable, calling the former "an essential tool for identifying each process involved in the product value chain". "Traceability is a priority for Inditex", he said, "which is why we work to identify and continually supervise all of our suppliers' processes by means of more than 10,000 social and environmental audits each year.

Inditex's chairman provided further details about the group's social and environmental sustainability policies. He touched on raw material selection and responsible manufacturing, going on to mention logistics sustainability and the eco-store model and wrapping up with product recycling at the end of its life cycle. "Thanks to collaboration efforts  with our suppliers, 93% of our production is sourced from top-scoring suppliers", he said in his speech.  

Pablo Isla stressed that such progress and achievements are not possible on a standalone basis but rather require the joint efforts of everyone engaged in raising the quality of the garment production chain. In the case of Inditex, he noted the crucial role played by the "joint and continuous work performed with benchmark partners such as IndustriALL, the International Labour Organisation, the United Nations Global Compact and, more recently, the initiatives deployed under the umbrella of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition".

To illustrate this collaborative effort, Pablo Isla outlined the work being performed by Inditex with the Sustainable Apparel Coalition to develop and promote the Higg Index, a product labelling proposal to provide consumers with better environmental and social information.

Ability to create value for society

Inditex's chairman how the Group works to create value for society through various programmes, highlighting Inditex's aid for refugees, emergency relief donations  and education and integration initiatives: "It is particularly relevant the aid that Inditex provided to refugees in Europe and at the border between Syria and Turkey and of our programmes for integrating vulnerable young people (Salta & Jeunes) and people with disabilities (For&From) into the workforce". Finally, Pablo Isla sought to highlight a host of other initiatives, such as its programmes designed to improve health standards in Morocco, Bangladesh, Cambodia and the Americas. These programmes based on efficient water management, education and the post-graduate programmes organised with renowned academic institutions.