On October 17, FLA hosted the latest meeting of the Americas Group (AG), which was founded in February 2011 as the MFA Forum Americas Committee concluded its efforts. The Americas Group is a multi-stakeholder forum of brands, initiatives like FLA, the global union for the garment sector – IndustriALL – and other civil society organizations. Members of the AG work together to promote and support globally competitive and socially responsible apparel and footwear industries in the Americas.
The focus of the October 17 meeting was “Precarious Work in the Americas.” A key objective was to evaluate root causes of and solutions to abusive short-term contracting and third-party labor contracting. FLA’s Executive Director Jorge Perez-Lopez participated on a panel called “Mapping Responses to a Global Problem”, elaborating on FLA’s expectations of brands and the actions taken in response to the rise of precarious work in the Americas. Representatives from Gap Inc. and New Balance hosted a panel discussion on the challenges posed to brands when implementing policies regarding precarious labor, and supplier responses to their efforts. HeeWon Brindle-Khym, Acting Director of Civil Society Engagement at FLA, facilitated a panel discussion on the issue from the perspective of labor rights organizations featuring the AFL-CIO, the Guatemalan independent monitoring group COVERCO, and the Maquila Solidarity Network.
These panel discussions provided a vital foundation for an informed conversation on the causes of precarious employment in the Americas. In the context of Peru, AG members repeatedly identified Decree 22342 – a Peruvian law enabling repeated use of short-term employment contracts for the export of ‘non-traditional’ products – as a key barrier to addressing the rise of precarious employment. The Decree has enabled the abuse of short-term contracts under a suspect ‘legal’ justification.
Ultimately, there was consensus that the Americas Group continue to address precarious employment, with Peru as a priority for immediate next steps. The Group decided that the Maquila Solidarity Network would work with the AG Coordinating Committee – including the Fair Labor Association and IndustriALL – to develop a list of next steps based on the conversation, including collective engagement with Peruvian suppliers to address their use of short-term contracts (with an immediate focus on eleven major suppliers that have already been cited as violating even the loose standards of the current law) and supporting Peruvian trade union efforts to repeal Decree 22342.
The Fair Labor Association will continue to work with the Americas Group to move forward these important issues.
For additional information on the America’s Group, contact the Maquila Solidarity Network at www.maquilasolidarity.org/contact.