November 8, 2008
Building on the research and proposals set out in the Clearing the Hurdles report released by the Play Fair 2008 campaign in April 2008, a sportswear working group involving the Maquila Solidarity Network, the International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers Federation, the Clean Clothes Campaign and the International Trade Union Confederation has set out steps sportswear brands need to take to begin to overcome four hurdles that have hindered progress on worker rights in the industry.
In July, 2008, representatives from major sportswear brands met with trade union and NGO representatives in Hong Kong to discuss concrete steps sportswear companies should take to meet specific targets on four key systemic problems that are blocking progress on dealing with persistent labour rights violations - a hostile environment for trade unions, flexibilization of labour, industry restructuring, and low wages.
Those initial discussions amongst trade union and non-governmental organizations, sportswear brands and multi-stakeholder initiatives helped us to identify opportunities for collaborative action on a number of issues. MSN and the other members of the sportswear working group are working in a number of different ways to pursue these proposals with sportswear manufacturers and brands.
As an initial step, the working group sent a letter to Pentland, adidas, Umbro, Nike, New Balance, Lotto, Puma, ASICS, Mizuno and others asking them to outline - as individual companies - where their company stands on the issues and what concrete steps their individual brands will undertake to address the hurdles we identified in our report. From there we hope to identify further opportunities for collaboration as well as ensuring that each company takes responsibility for actions within its own supply chain.
The proposals spelled out in this letter form an agenda for action that should be pursued by any companies that are serious about addressing labour rights in their supply chains. Most importantly, they present practical ideas for how companies can go beyond auditing and policing and begin to overcome persistent challenges by changing the way they do business.