Inditex and IndustriALL celebrate the tenth anniversary of their Global Framework Agreement

  • Pablo Isla and Valter Sanches went over the key milestones and future challenges of this pioneering initiative in the global garment industry marking their joint effort to enhance working conditions in the garment industry
  • The Chairman and CEO of Inditex, Pablo Isla, underscored the fact that looking forward, the Global Framework Agreement will continue to be “one of the most effective tools for enforcing and encouraging labour rights in the garment industry’s global supply, underpinned by freedom of association and collective bargaining”.
  • Valter Sanches, the general secretary of IndustriALL Global Union which represents 50 million workers in 140 countries, said “the Global Framework Agreement promotes stability in a time of uncertainty. Protecting some 1.5 million garment workers in the Inditex supply chain, it empowers our unions to defend fundamental rights of workers to organize and bargain collectively for better wages and working conditions”.

Today, in a joint event, Inditex and IndustriALL Global Union celebrated the tenth anniversary of the Global Framework Agreement, designed to protect and promote labour conditions throughout Inditex’s supply chain. During an event to mark the anniversary at the Madrid head office of the Economic and Social Council, the Chairman and CEO of Inditex, Pablo Isla, and the general secretary of IndustriALL, Valter Sánches, used the occasion to review the key progress made under the joint initiative.

During his presentation, Inditex's Chairman and CEO stressed that the progress  delivered during the past decade bodes for a “future for the Global Framework Agreement as one of the best tools for continuing to enforce and encourage decent labour conditions in the garment sector’s supply chain around the world”. He also highlighted universal freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining as key foundations of this policy.

Both acknowledged the advances promoted to set more ambitious objectives to promote decent work, as set out in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), which Inditex is a signatory to. 

Pablo Isla acknowledged the work of the three general secretaries who have led IndustriALL since the agreement was signed, as well as praising the representatives of Spain's leading unions, CCOO and UGT, who have helped develop the agreement throughout this time. “Without their commitment to the workers they represent, their knowledge of the garment industry and their proactive and critical spirit, the Global Framework Agreement would not have yielded the results we are applauding here today”, said Isla. 

Valter Sánches commended Inditex for taking a lead in promoting worker and trade union rights: “Inditex recognizes its role as one of the world’s biggest retailers and was the first apparel brand to see the value of good industrial relations, not just in their own factories but throughout their entire supply chain. The Global Framework Agreement makes factory suppliers accountable, enabling labour conflicts to be resolved successfully and greater participation of trade unions in production countries.”  

Traceability and transparency

The collaboration between Inditex and IndustriALL dates back to 2002. However, it wasn't until 2007, when the Global Framework Agreement was signed, that both parties began to roll out initiatives designed to empower workers and protect their labour rights throughout the Group's entire supply chain – for instancethe sharing of Inditex's full supplier list.

The 1,800 suppliers and 7,000 factories in the Inditex supply chain not only apply its Code of Conduct for Manufacturers and Suppliers to all their production but alsoparticipate in the joint initiatives carried out under the scope of the Global Framework Agreement, despite not supplying exclusively to Inditex. It is calculated that close to 1.5 million workers have seen their labour conditions protected and strengthened as a result. 

The Framework Agreement achieved a new milestone in 2012 with the appointment of a General Coordinator and the signature of a Protocol committing to local union access to the supply chain, enhancing supply chain transparency and empowering local workers to pursue their own collective bargaining. This initiative was reinforced further in 2014 when the Global Framework Agreement was renewed.

The expansion of the Global Framework Agreement in 2016 marked another step forward in this joint effort by bringing local union experts into the 12 clusters of suppliers into which Inditex has organized the majority of its suppliers around the world. This protocol has created forums for effective collaboration and exchange in the quest to protect workers' rights and ensure ongoing momentum in the clusters.

Over the last 10 years, the Framework Agreement has facilitated and strengthened a shared approach to the situation in each sourcing market by promoting the right to union access in the workplace. Pilot programmes have been carried out in over 80 factories in 12 countries tackling a wide variety of aspects, including the right to organize, decent working conditions and a healthy workplace as well as addressing women's empowerment issues. These pilot programmes have yielded results which can be applied across the entire supply chain.