Bangladesh program provides accident insurance for garment workers – Sourcing Journal
Garment workers in Bangladesh who make items for some of the world’s largest fashion companies will now have access to income protection and medical care services when injured on the job.
The Employment Injury Scheme (EIS), developed by the International Labor Organization (ILO), is the first such program in the country. Fast Retailing in Japan, Bestseller in Denmark, H&M Group, German retailers KiK Textilien und Non-Food GmbH and Tchibo and Irish fast fashion company Primark have invested in the pilot scheme, which will compensate garment workers and their dependents in the event of work-related accidents resulting in permanent disability or death.
EIS was established in accordance with the ILO Convention on Protection against Work Injuries and will begin with work injury research and rehabilitation in approximately 150 factories in the region. The data collected through this process will help the ILO and its partners assess the average medical costs for injured workers, and then identify the resources needed to support medical care. “This will demonstrate the viability, feasibility and cost-effectiveness of an HIA in Bangladesh, ensuring the affordability of employer contributions by testing the impact of a responsibility-sharing approach,” the ILO said in a statement.
The program will also provide income replacement to the families of workers who are permanently disabled or die in the line of duty. These benefits will be spread across the entire apparel industry, the ILO said, not just the factories in the sample or those under contract with the six brands that have pledged. The deployment will be overseen by a committee established by the Government of Bangladesh, comprising its Ministry of Labor and Employment as well as worker and employer representatives.
While the pilot was developed for four years, Uniqlo owner Fast Retailing said it plans to permanently implement the EIS after that period. “Fast Retailing recognizes that one of our most important responsibilities is to protect the safety and security of the people who help make our apparel,” said Yukihiro Nitta, Group Managing Director and Head of Sustainability, during of the launch of the program on June 21. the pilot project paves the way for an important new safety net for workers in Bangladesh, one of our main manufacturing sites. »
Nitta said Fast Retailing plans to continue working with the ILO to develop solutions to rights and safety issues faced by workers across Asia, not just in its own supply chain. It aims to create “systemic social protection measures and improved working environments across the region”, he added.
The ILO has described HIA as “an important step towards achieving decent work and economic growth in [Bangladesh].”
Crystal digitizes PACE
Meanwhile, Hong Kong-based Crystal International, a supplier of casualwear, sportswear, underwear and denim to brands including Uniqlo and Gap, is digitizing training courses designed to give women apparel industry with the skills to advance their careers and personal development.
The Personal Advancement & Career Enhancement (PACE) program was developed by Gap Inc. in 2007 to provide its global providers with a hands-on training program. Crystal International, which employs 80,000 workers in 20 plants and five countries, is the first global partner approved to administer hybrid PACE training through in-person and web-based courses.
Crystal’s denim factory in China first launched PACE in 2012 and has enrolled seven cohorts for a total of 1,800 students to date. The program has since expanded to company operations in Vietnam, Cambodia and Bangladesh.
The need for a digital component emerged in 2019 as the first signs of the Covid-19 pandemic emerged in Asia, Crystal said. With in-person learning on the table, the denim factory in China launched the pioneering virtual learning platform in the fall. “The online learning path has enabled students to learn anytime, anywhere, which is more convenient and saves time,” Crystal said. Gap Inc. praised the digital effort, which has grown to encompass all of its PACE programs globally. While 150 students graduated in 2020, 500 students completed the program last year.
The online training sessions were developed to foster personal and professional skills that will help employees advance their careers, according to Crystal. Each PACE course consists of five modules comprised of animated videos on communication, problem solving and decision making, time and stress management, health and executing excellence. “Their efficiency and the quality of their work have also improved considerably while some of them are promoted to leaders,” he said.
The digital program won top honors from Gap Inc. last year, when the Crystal denim factory received the “Digital Content Creator Award” at an annual awards ceremony. Meanwhile, Crystal’s factory in Cambodia received the ‘PACE Photo of the Year Award’, which illustrates the company’s commitment to empowering female workers. Post-pandemic, Crystal said it plans to continue encouraging e-learning at its locations in Vietnam and Cambodia to provide workers with flexibility and convenience.