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FLA at the 2024 OECD Forum on Due Diligence in the Garment and Footwear Sector

FLA was pleased to participate in this year’s OECD Forum on Due Diligence in the Garment and Footwear Sector. In addition to hosting two virtual side sessions, FLA welcomed members and guests at an in-person luncheon in Paris on February 22.

During the luncheon, FLA President and CEO Jeff Vockrodt and senior FLA staff led a discussion on the future of due diligence in apparel supply chains. One focus of conversation was efforts to address upstream supply chains in cotton, rubber, and leather, as well as social compliance at the Tier One level.

Side Session: Protecting Workers during Factory Closures and Worker Retrenchment: Best Practice and Lessons from Central America

FLA’s Regional Manager, Latin America, Jessica Vásquez moderated a panel with union representatives from El Salvador and Honduras and international brands SanMar and adidas to discuss appropriate due diligence in addressing labor risks for workers during factory retrenchments and closures in Central America.

During the panel, Remy Arguello, Social and Environmental Affairs Director, adidas, and FLA Board Member Prathika Kurian, Senior Manager of Factory Compliance at SanMar, explained the policies and practices that their companies have adopted and implemented to reduce negative impacts on workers, as well as the lessons they have learned in cases of factory closures or exit.

Evangelina Argueta, Coordinator with Organizational Maquila Project (CGT) and member of the political team of Red de Sindicatos de la Maquila Hondureña (RSMH), and Marta Zaldaña, Secretary General, Federación de Asociaciones y Sindicatos Independientes de El Salvador (FEASIES), added their perspectives on the efficacy of these procedures or practices in protecting workers’ rights during substantial downsizing or factory closure and the gaps that still exist. The union representatives also highlighted the primary risks and challenges that workers face and offered additional recommendations for brands. Note: The recording is also available in Spanish.

Side Session: Uzbekistan Cotton-Textiles Clusters: Opportunities and Challenges
Co-hosted with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)

Emerging European human rights due diligence legislation and the changing landscape in Uzbekistan — including the elimination of child and forced labor and the creation of a vertically integrated cotton-to-garment value chain — has opened doors to new opportunities for the growth of the cotton and textile industry in the country. 

For international buyers seeking to enhance the transparency of their supply chains, Uzbekistan offers transparent supply chains, farm-level to finished product, within a single country. Companies sourcing from Uzbekistan also have the opportunity to shape the working and environmental conditions in country by introducing effective grievance mechanisms, international labor and environmental standards, and social dialogue.

This side session brought together a diverse set of expert organizations working in Uzbekistan on labor and human rights issues — including FLA, GIZ, the Cotton Campaign, the International Labour Organisation’s Better Work Program, and Better Cotton — to discuss next steps for the cotton and textile industry in Uzbekistan. Panelists discussed addressing human rights due diligence, improving working conditions, and fostering sustainable practices in cotton production, as well as the need for robust grievance mechanisms and continued forced labor remediation.

Note: The recording is also available in Russian.

Finally, Prathika Kurian also joined the OECD’s main session panel on brand due diligence strategies for living wage. The panel focused on actions to improve wages through collaboration, government engagement, and sourcing model structure. Prathika spoke about how the Fair Labor Association, Anker Research Institute, Global Living Wage Coalition, and Better Buying Institute have supported SanMar’s fair compensation program and progress. English and French recordings of the session are available.

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