Partnership Initiatives

Partnership Initiative Complaints Mechanisms

Promoting complaints mechanisms and access to remedy is a fundamental part of corporate due diligence. Workers in the textile supply chain must have the opportunity to report abuses in the workplace and obtain effective remedy when needed.

This requires functioning complaints mechanisms. For example, internal factory complaint channels, civil society contact points and/or so-called back-up mechanisms of purchasing companies or industry initiatives are possible. The aim of the Partnership Initiative (BI) Complaint Mechanisms, which was launched in 2020, is therefore to support Partnership members in implementing effective complaint mechanisms. The BI already consists of two cooperation projects. Further projects are being planned.

Module to open the Fair Wear complaints mechanism to Partnership members
Key data

Period: April 2021 to October 2022

Cooperation partners: Fair Wear Foundation, Dutch Agreement on Sustainable Garments and Textile

Participating Partnership members: Esprit, s.Oliver, Seidensticker, FEMNET

Participating AGT signatories: G-Star, HEMA, Arisa

Countries: Vietnam, India

The Partnership for Sustainable Textiles cooperates with the Fair Wear Foundation (FWF) and the Dutch Agreement on Sustainable Garments and Textile (AGT) to provide workers in the supply chain of participating partnership members with improved access to grievance mechanisms as well as to remedy and redemption. Furthermore, the project participants aim to avoid a myriad of (new) parallel, often ineffective channels and instead build on and further develop existing and successful mechanisms.

Through the cooperation, a group of the Partnership and AGT companies get access to the Fair Wear Foundation's grievance mechanism in Vietnam and India. The same requirements apply to the companies as to FWF members themselves, for example:

  • Educate workers about the use of the FWF mechanism,
  • Participation in the investigation of complaints,
  • Implementation of remedy and redemption,
  • Transparent publication of grievance cases on the Fair Wear website.

At the same time, the companies are closely assisted: Fair Wear supports them in establishing internal processes for receiving and resolving complaints as well as raising awareness of the mechanism in their supplier factories.

In the long term, a joint grievance mechanism is to be created that members of different initiatives can use. Therefore, the first phase of the project focuses on identifying and defining parameters and elements for such a joint mechanism. The incorporation of further companies and countries is envisaged for the second phase.

"With this joint approach, we want to work towards strengthening the rights of the employees in our supply chains.", Larissa Forntheil, Corporate Responsibility Manager at Seidensticker.

Sabrina Müller, Head of Sustainability at s.Oliver Group: "We would like to further develop our existing approach to complaints and remedial action in our supply chain. This cooperation gives us the opportunity to address this issue more efficiently and, most importantly, together with various actors such as the Fair Wear Foundation. In this way, we can avoid a multitude of different channels and facilitate access for workers throughout the industry."

“Making sure that workers are listened to and can voice their complaints requires a system. Our complaints helplines in major garment-producing countries serve exactly this purpose. Working together with our member brands, we work hard to address the complaints that the helplines bring to light.”

The Fair Wear Foundation's complaints mechanism offers workers at supplier factories the opportunity to make complaints about working conditions via phone, email or app. These are received and processed by local FWF employees. Together, the buying company and the factory concerned investigate the complaint and, if necessary, provide remedy and redemption. The FWF publishes the content and status of incoming complaints on its website.

The Fair Wear Complaints procedure provides further insights into the approach.

Module on strengthening factory-internal grievance handling in Pakistan
Key data

Period: February 2022 to April 2023

Cooperation partners: Fairtrade Deutschland e.V.

Participating companies: Primark, Hch. Kettelhack, Hugo Boss, Takko, Tex idea 

Country: Pakistan

Effective complaints mechanisms enable workers to issue violations of social or ecological standars at workplace. Possible mechanisms include factory-internal complaints channels, civil society contact points and/or so-called back-up mechanisms of purchasing companies or sector initiatives. The objective of the cooperation project between Fairtrade Germany, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and member companies of the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles is to improve internal complaints structures at Pakistani suppliers. The companies Primark, Hch. Kettelhack, Hugo Boss and Takko are actively participating in the project. The Pakistani GIZ project TextILES provides financial and technical support.

The project equips workers and management in around 20 Pakistani textile factories with the necessary knowledge and tools to jointly resolve complaints about working conditions. This is achieved through a tailor-made training programme that includes sensitising management, raising awareness among workers and jointly building and strengthening functioning and sustainable grievance structures.

The project is being implemented by Fairtrade Germany with a local team. It will draw on the experience and know-how of the Fairtrade Textile Programme, which has already been successfully implemented in India since 2014. The programme's approach to dealing with complaints will be transferred and adapted to the local context in Pakistan.

Which measures are planned?
  • Sensitizing management for workers' needs and training on how to deal with incoming complaints.
  • Training for workers on their rights and the benefit of complaints mechanisms
  • Training on the function and set up of grievance mechanisms for workers and management.

The textile and garment sector is Pakistan’s most important branch of the manufacturing industry. Some 15 million people (around 38 per cent of the total workforce) work in the textile sector, of which approx. 70% are male.

The working conditions in the textile industry in Pakistan are characterised by poor workplace safety, low wages, as well as a lack of co-determination at company level and a lack of dialogue between management, workers and state institutions.

The analysis has shown that a legal framework on labour law, grievance handling, trade unions and labour inspections on a provincial and federal level is in place. The laws prescribe e. g. the implementation of grievance committees in the context of harassment, shop stewards for internal grievance handling or the right of freedom of association and collective bargaining is legally guaranteed. However, insufficient job security and rarely conducted labour inspections lead to a lack of implementation and do not contribute to address and remediate the most pressing topics as intimidation and harassment of independent unions, forced overtime, sexual harassment, unsanitary conditions, lack of breaks or medical leaves, denying wages or absence of written contracts.

Partnership for Sustainable Textiles

c/o Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale
Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH
Friedrich-Ebert-Allee 36
53113 Bonn
Phone: +49 228 4460-3560

@2023 Bündnis für nachhaltige Textilien