The Partnership Initiative Tamil Nadu entered its second phase


The Partnership Initiative Tamil Nadu entered its second phase

The joint commitment to improved grievance structures in spinning mills and the promotion of stakeholder dialogue continues.

The Partnership Initiative Tamil Nadu entered its second phase in November 2021. Rising numbers of infections and repeated lockdowns in the Indian state caused delays. But now the project is picking up speed and the first factory visits and training sessions have taken place. The focus of the second phase is on around 40 spinning mills in the four districts of Coimbatore, Dindigul, Erode and Tiruppur.

In addition to the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and FEMNET, the four Partnership companies Tchibo, the Otto Group, KiK and HUGO BOSS AG are once again participating in this project. As in the first project phase, the local NGO SAVE is organizing the on-site implementation.

Building on experiences and successes of the first project phase

The first phase of the Partnership Initiative (PI) can look back on several successes: A total of 24,500 workers and 2,000 factory managers were trained on labor and human rights standards in around 200 spinning mills, and more than 240 complaints committees were set up. In addition, frequent exchanges at district and national level between stakeholders from government, business, trade unions and civil society helped to create more trust and transparency and to develop joint action plans.

Nevertheless, the stakeholders also identified potential for improvement: the engagement of management in spinning mills and factories, the effectiveness of the established complaints committees, and the link between the training and dialogue components.

Furthermore, the COVID 19 pandemic highlighted the fragility of the structures: Although the stakeholders were able to make good use of the networks for emergency aid and prevention measures, the dialogue processes largely came to a standstill after the outbreak of the pandemic.

PI Tamil Nadu 2.0: Increased participation, more exchange, but less spinning mills

In order to respond to the challenges of the first phase, the PI members are now primarily focusing on stronger linking of the modules, more intensive participation of the German companies and an improved complaints system through external monitoring measures.

Instead of reaching as many spinning mills as possible, they are now selecting ten pilot factories per district to expand the training in terms of scope and quality. The trainers proposed by Tchibo for the project contribute their expertise in training conception and company approach to ensure, together with SAVE, greater acceptance and participation on behalf of the factory management. The trainers were part of the Worldwide Enhancement of Social Quality (WE) program, which Tchibo launched in 2008 as a public private partnership with GIZ. In addition, independent persons for monitoring are also new. They are to accompany and check the progress and functionality of the internal factory complaints committees and exchange information with the workers outside the factories.

A direct exchange between the modules "Dialogue" and "Trainings" is created via the respective district coordinators of SAVE, who are responsible for the trainings in the spinning mills as well as for the work of the district committees. The district committees continue to be represented by the government, companies and associations, as well as NGOs and trade unions. They set concrete milestones to address the structural problems in the spinning mills and factories and to improve working conditions in the long term.

The involvement of German companies is also to be intensified via the newly created third module "Brand Engagement": In addition to a frequent exchange with all stakeholders, this module shall help the involved companies to increase traceability and transparency of their own supply chains. Furthermore, the companies are to monitor the project at factory level: Tchibo, the Otto Group, KiK and HUGO BOSS AG have each nominated one or two of the total of 40 participating spinning mills and are supporting SAVE in establishing contact and further communication.

Delayed start due to the pandemic

Rising numbers of infections in Tamil Nadu delayed the start of the project and made the implementation more difficult: spinning mills were closed for visitors, travel bans prevented the exchange between the WE trainers and SAVE and face-to-face meetings of the committees were not possible.

Nevertheless, up until now about one third of the spinning mills have been acquired, the project team has received training, and the first "assessment week" with the WE trainers has been implemented. During this time, the trainers have already visited five spinning mills in the four districts. On the German side, in addition to the kick-off event with the PI members, regular coordination meetings were held with the Dutch Factory Support Program and Freedom Fund.