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Article

16 Aug 2019

Author:
Worker Rights Consortium

Leading apparel brands, trade unions, and women’s rights organizations sign binding agreements to combat gender-based violence and harassment at key supplier’s factories in Lesotho

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Civil society groups, an international apparel manufacturer, and three global brands have agreed to launch a comprehensive pilot program intended to prevent gender-based violence and harassment (GBVH) in garment factories in Lesotho employing more than 10,000 workers.

Five Lesotho-based trade unions and women’s rights organizations, as well as U.S.-based Worker Rights Consortium, Solidarity Center and Workers United, have signed a set of unprecedented agreements with Nien Hsing Textile and Levi Strauss & Co., The Children’s Place, and Kontoor Brands to address GBVH at five factories owned and operated by Nien Hsing Textile in Lesotho.

The product of extensive negotiations after a Worker Rights Consortium investigation documented a deeply concerning pattern of abuse and harassment in Nien Hsing Textile factories in the country, the agreements reflect a shared commitment to protect the rights of workers, support economic development in Lesotho, and promote Lesotho as an apparel exporting country.

The unions and women’s rights organizations are Independent Democratic Union of Lesotho (IDUL), United Textile Employees (UNITE), the National Clothing Textile and Allied Workers Union (NACTWU), the Federation of Women Lawyers in Lesotho (FIDA) and Women and Law in Southern African Research and Education Trust-Lesotho (WLSA). Each brand agreement will operate in tandem with a separate agreement among Nien Hsing Textile and the trade unions and women’s rights organizations to establish an independent investigative organization to receive complaints of GBVH from workers, carry out investigations and assessments, identify violations of a jointly developed code of conduct and direct and enforce remedies in accordance with the Lesotho law. The program will also involve extensive worker-to-worker and management training, education, and related activities.

The Solidarity Center, the Worker Rights Consortium, and Workers United will provide technical and administrative assistance and support for the program...

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