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1 Apr 2022

Justice For Jeyasre

India: H&M signs 'landmark' Dindigul Agreement to end gender-based violence & harassment with Eastman Exports & labour orgs

"Landmark Dindigul Agreement to Eliminate Gender-Based Violence and Harassment at Eastman Exports Natchi Apparels with the Support of Global Allies", 1 April 2022

Today Eastman Exports Global Clothing Private Limited, the Tamil Nadu Textile and Common Labour Union, the Asia Floor Wage Alliance, and Global Labor Justice- International Labor Rights Forum, along with H&M Group (H&M), jointly announce the groundbreaking Dindigul Agreement to Eliminate Gender-Based Violence and Harassment (GBVH), in the first year reaching 5,000 mostly female workers in spinning mills and garment cut and sew facilities.

These stakeholders have signed a set of agreements which jointly commit to work together from their supply chain role to eradicate discrimination based on gender, caste, or migration status; to increase transparency; and to develop a culture of mutual respect in the garment factory setting.

The agreement draws language from the International Labor Organization’s Convention 190 concerning the elimination of violence and harassment in the workplace and strongly protects freedom of association and the rights of Dalit women workers...

“All our employees deserve safety and respect at work,” said Subhash Tiwari, CEO of Eastman Exports, one of the largest clothing manufacturers in Tirupur, India. “It is our hope that this unique agreement and partnership will not only positively impact Natchi’s valued workforce but will also serve as a model for other garment factories.”

The agreement includes an innovative program known as “Safe Circles” with regular training for all workers, supervisors, and managers; a peer education program; and shop floor monitors to detect and report GBVH. The program will be anchored by Tamil Nadu Textile and Common Labour Union (TTCU), a women-led independent and majority Dalit trade union of textile workers. The Asia Floor Wage Alliance (AFWA), an alliance of trade unions and labor organizations representing garment workers across Asia and Global Labor Justice- InternationalLabor Rights Forum (GLJ-ILRF), a global human and labor rights advocacy organization focused on eliminating GBVH have joined as signatories and will support these efforts.

As a part of the agreement, Eastman Exports will amend its internal policies and procedures including to strengthen the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) and establish an independent grievance mechanism overseen by third-party experts.

“This agreement delivers power and support to women workers to monitor, prevent and remediate GBVH collectively and with management,” said Jeeva M, General Secretary of TTCU. “We will use this as a model to organize against GBVH and caste-based discrimination industry wide.”.. 

H&M recognizes the critical role of enabling collaboration between all stakeholders to reduce risks of GBVH, including at the intersection of gender and caste as well as of freedom of association violations, that contribute to GBVH in the garment industry. H&M wants to use its size and scale to influence the industry in a positive way. H&M will, for example, contribute financially to develop awareness trainings for management and workers, an independent and trustworthy grievance mechanisms run by an independent assessor, and a framework for measuring and reporting impact. The ambition is to find solutions that can be brought to scale
at industry level.

In signing this agreement, all stakeholders honor the loss of a young garment worker, TTCU member, and Eastman employee, Jeyasre Kathrivel, whose life was tragically cut short as a result of GBVH. We honor her legacy through this important agreement and ultimately meaningful change across the garment industry. Foley Hoag attorneys, Gare Smith and Allison Anderson, advised Eastman Exports, and worked with TTCU, AFWA and GLJ-ILRF on this agreement.