The garment workers’ frustrations clearly highlight the need for strengthened industrial relations in the country. When workers are listened to, when the parties in the labour market can engage in respectful negotiation and peaceful dispute resolution, and when the minimum wage level is revised regularly, that is when situations such as this one can be resolved long-term.
However, even though we understand and fully sympathize with the garment workers’ frustrations, we cannot encourage vandalism and violence as a means to an end. We strongly encourage peaceful conflict resolution for all parties in all situations and see ourselves as an enabler to make that happen. This is why we have created National Monitoring Committees under the Global Framework Agreement together with the global union IndustriALL and the Swedish trade union IF Metall; platforms consisting of local union representatives and local H&M group staff supporting peaceful conflict resolution within our supply chain where the parties struggle to reach agreements independently and where disputes thus are being escalated. We support increased wages for garment workers as well as the guidelines of the ILO and global unions, which emphasize collective bargaining as necessary for workers and employers to negotiate wages and working conditions.
H&M group is in close dialogue with the global Union IndustriALL and the National Monitoring Committees to monitor and evaluate the situation, where the dispute so far is being managed by the parties without any need for involvement of the National Monitoring Committee. Following this unrest, a settlement (a MoU) has been signed by factory management, associated trade unions (including affiliated IndustriALL unions), and worker representatives. We understand garment workers have recently been dismissed from four factories that produce for H&M group amongst others, and we are closely observing the situation to ensure that the documents and agreements that have now been signed are acknowledged and approved by all parties, outlining valid information and appropriate grounds for termination of employment. This issue will remain at the top of our agenda and we stay in close contact with the suppliers, industry association, trade unions and other buyers.