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ARTEIXO – The world’s largest apparel retailer, Inditex, has signed a joint declaration with IndustriALL Global Union in which it pledges to support the global garment industry to recover from the crisis created by the coronavirus pandemic. The agreement makes a commitment to respect freedom of association and collective bargaining rights, giving workers the right to join a union to advance their interests.

The agreement builds on a longstanding partnership between the company and the global union, which began with a global framework agreement signed in 2007 and renewed in 2019.

It also reinforces commitments to other multi-stakeholder initiatives, including the ILO Call to Action in the Global Garment Industry and the ACT initiative.

A statement from the Spanish business, whose brands include Zara, said: “In many countries that produce garments for the sector, there have been large scale job losses and economic hardship for workers. This agreement deepens Inditex’s longstanding commitment to freedom of association and collective bargaining rights and social dialogue. Additionally, the agreement enhances Inditex’s commitment to stable payment terms and to broader access to financing for suppliers in order to support their cash flow. This enables them to honour payments to workers so that jobs and incomes are protected.

“The health and safety of workers will be ensured. Supplier companies will implement protective measures, and provide personal protective equipment. As Covid-19 restrictions are lifted and economies reopen, Inditex and the global union committee will monitor the safe resumption of normal operations.”

Inditex executive chairman Pablo Isla said: “Our priority through this crisis has been and continues to be the health and safety of our people, the workers in our supply chain and our customers.

“Our longstanding and fruitful work with IndustriALL for over 13 years makes our framework agreement a strong tool to keep working to protect and promote workers’ rights and well- being, while supporting the global garment industry during these unprecedented times.”

Industriall Global Union General Secretary Valter Sanches said: “The Covid-19 pandemic caused a crisis in the textile and garment industry that led unions to experience mass job losses, unsafe working conditions and attacks on workers’ rights. Many of our members saw their livelihoods collapse entirely.

“The manufacturing suppliers need stability and predictability so that employment and income can be preserved. That’s what this commitment entails. We are working together to help the industry to develop the resilience to recover from the crisis, saving jobs and preserving the rights and income of workers.”

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