The Fairtrade Textile Programme

The Fairtrade Textile Programme aims to engage all actors across supply chains to build capacity, drive change, and positively impact workers lives.

Businesses, suppliers and factories all play a pivotal role in empowering factory workers and increasing their wellbeing. From reducing risks of gender-based violence and ensuring health and safety standards are met, to providing a living wage. Their active engagement is crucial to continuously improve Fairtrade’s role to support and measure social compliance.

Considering the specific challenges of the textile industry, such as low wage levels, lack of work place safety, lack of freedom of association, gender-based violence and forced labour, we launched the Fairtrade Textile Programme. An extension of the Fairtrade approach to the entire textile supply chain, it currently engages almost 30 textile producers.

Workers at their sewing stations
TransFair e.V.

The programme goes beyond auditing, has capacity building at its core (including training on workers’ rights, living wage and health and safety measures among others) and has our Textile Standard as a compass.

By offering this program at all tiers of the supply chain, in addition to the current Fairtrade Textile Standards, we are helping reach all supply chain actors from factory to end-market.

Scope of Programme

As a first step, we defined a road map to establish the necessary structures within Fairtrade and the broader context to better support the implementation of the Fairtrade Textile Standard. In its initial phase the focus is on in India, Bangladesh and Ethiopia. With that in mind, the programme currently has four main streams of work underpinned by different activities:

Workers rights

• Training workers on representation and raising awareness of their rights.

• Facilitate establishing a workers’ representation

• Building capacity of trade unions

• Grievance handling by local partners- NGO’s and trade unions- as point of contacts for workers and training of internal

complaint committees

Living wage

• Raise awareness on the importance of a living wage among factory managers and brands

• Benchmarks for decent earning of workers acc. Anker’s methodology

• Cost analysis in factories

• Work on fair purchasing practices

• Increase efficiency of production units through better work planning and equipment

utilisation leading to cost savings that can contribute to better wages

Health & safety

• Increasing workers’ awareness about health risks, protection form accidents and exposure to hazardous substances

• Train specialised workers on chemical management and environmental protection

• Analyse risks Risk in ginning- spinning- printing-dyeing

• Youth employment program: Offer to young workers and best practice in protection from child labour and forced labour (YICBMR)

New ways of auditing

• Train auditing teams in textile expertise and Fairtrade program findings in order to assess the real situation of the workers

• Involve workers as part of the audits by having worker representation

• Certification advisory to factory’s internal auditing teams by training compliance committee and compliance teams

• Recognition of other standards such as SA 8000

• Trace and track in the chains

• Monitor and evaluate improvement in social compliance

getting involved

In order to reach a greater impact, businesses and suppliers can join the program even without being certified against the Fairtrade Textile Standard. Our experts perform a pre-assessment to identify areas of focus and specific needs. Based on these findings we will co-design an action plan together with the management of the production sites, which includes specialized trainings provided either by our colleagues at the Producer Networks or external experts from the industry.

Our approach is guided by the Sustainable Development Goals, the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, Human Rights Due Diligence and OECD recommendations for multinational enterprises in textiles. At Fairtrade we want to support all supply chain actors in transforming the way they tackle social compliance. The comprehensive approach of our textile programme engages manufacturers and workers to bring about better wages and working conditions, and engages brands to commit to fair terms of trade.