Ensuring Decent Working Conditions and Human Rights in our Supply Chain
Taking necessary actions to protect human rights and safeguard the health and safety of our workers, while focusing on continuously improving the working conditions, is deeply engrained in our DNA. In order to ensure that all of our products are manufactured based on our requirements, we mandate that all of our factories regularly go through a social audit by an accredited third party organization. Besides amfori BSCI, we do accept different standards and certificates (i.e. SA8000, SMETA 4-Pillar, ICTI), which draw on the conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO), Declarations of the United Nations (UN) and forbid child labour, bonded labour and requires, among others, fair remuneration and decent working conditions. By accepting multiple standards and certificates, we aim to contribute towards reducing audit fatigue as we are convinced that active cooperation towards improved working conditions will ultimately deliver the best results. This is why we are also making it a habit to regularly review our internal processes in order to ensure that they are both appropriate and still effective and don’t unnecessarily increase the burden on us or our business partners.
Going Beyond Auditing
We acknowledge that audits have their limitations and cannot solve all social issues in our supply chain. Therefore, we aim to go beyond auditing by encouraging our producers to participate in amfori workshops, diverse webinars and training opportunities but also by providing a specifically tailored capacity building program for our preferred suppliers. The goal of our 18 months, hands-on, Social Compliance Training Program, is to support and empower our business partners to address common social issues in their production and to find sustainable solutions to improve their working conditions. Producers are being evaluated through a top-down and bottom up review, which allows us to develop a customized improvement plan that targets key focus areas and business opportunities.
In conclusion, all of our measures enable our suppliers and their producers to not only know our requirements but also gain a deeper understanding of the impact their production has on our society, their staff as well as the environment while supporting them to develop possible measures, which facilitate sustainable improvement in the long run. We believe that, while compliance requirements and audits are necessary for an initial risk assessment, raising general awareness and providing the appropriate skillset amongst suppliers and producers is the only effective solution.
ACCORD: Extended Fire and Building Safety Compliance in Bangladesh
Along with over 180 fashion and retailing brands, we work in the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh. Following the collapse of Rana Plaza in Dhaka, which killed more than 1100 people, REWE group signed the agreement in 2013. The ACCORD was a five-year legally binding agreement between brands, retailers and trade unions committing to the goal of a safe Bangladeshi ready-made garment (RMG) industry. Following its expiration, the REWE Group signed the subsequent 2018 Transition Accord, which is a 3 year extension with the same objective to secure the working environment in which no worker needs to fear fires, building collapses or other accidents.
Recognizing the need for focusing on fire and building related issues in Bangladeshi factories, REWE Far East ensures that all textile manufacturing sites in Bangladesh are regularly inspected by the ACCORD and subsequently remediate the observed health and safety issues. We closely work with our sourcing colleagues, suppliers and producers to protect the lives of the workers in Bangladesh by supporting continuous improvement and providing additional consultancy expertise.
Statement on the Bangladesh ACCORD
Over the past six years, the Accord has achieved significant improvements concerning the health and safety of workers in the textile industry in Bangladesh. Substantial progress related to structural, electrical and fire safety have been realized in the production facilities.
Now the Accord may need to end its operations in Bangladesh depending on whether a resolution can be reached with the Bangladeshi Government and relevant parties.
Markus Hasse-Pratje, Managing Director of the REWE Far East, comments: ‘The achievements of the Accord should not be jeopardized by an abrupt ending of the Accord in Bangladesh.’
Patricia von Planta, CR Manager of REWE Far East, explains: ‘We fully support the planned and gradual transfer of responsibilities to the national inspection body but a proper handover and knowledge transfer is essential to ensure a successful continuation of our efforts. We have a great interest to complete the remediation process of our production facilities and are committed to support them in their efforts. The presence of the Accord in Bangladesh greatly helps us in this endeavor. We believe that the Accord is well suited to provide valuable support to the national inspection body throughout this transition process.’
For this reason the REWE Group already requested the Bangladeshi Government together with other Accord and Textile Partnership members to ensure that the national inspection body is well prepared and ready according to the agreed criteria before they take over the tasks of the Accord, including inspections, trainings, complaint handling and transparent reporting.
Marc Solesse, General Manager of REWE Far East and responsible for textile sourcing, states: ‘As a retailer sourcing from Bangladesh, ensuring that the national inspection body is capable of maintaining and further advancing the level of safety of the textile industry is of utmost importance to us. We sincerely hope that we can find a suitable solution that serves all our interests and that focuses on protecting the health and lives of the Bangladeshi garment workers so that we can continue in good conscience our sourcing business in Bangladesh.’