MFA Forum agrees on final phase of work
The MFA Forum’s Executive Committee, at a two-day meeting in New York agreed on a final work phase for this unique apparel industry collaboration. The MFA Forum has agreed to close its doors by the end of 2010.
Established in late 2004 to understand and mitigate the negative impacts on apparel workers from the end of the quota system, the MFA Forum has become a leading example of a single industry focused multi-stakeholder initiative. Hundreds of participants from NGOs, voluntary standards groups, trade unions, businesses and multi-lateral institutions worked together to promote responsible competitiveness in key exporting countries in the face of new and fierce global competition.
“The MFA Forum has been able to facilitate a unique collaboration among critical stakeholders with a common interest – to reduce the potential negative impact to workers by the end of quota,” says Sasha Radovich, Senior Manager of the MFA Forum. “Much still needs to be undertaken to make responsible competitiveness a reality. But the Forum has done its significant part in building the relationships necessary to tackle some of the most intractable issues of this industry and to improve the capacities in-country that enable implementation bodies to deliver. This network and its ability to continue to work together is the enduring legacy of the Forum.”
Over the course of the final work period (July-December 2010), a number of significant activities will be undertaken at the country-level. Final work plans and resource allocations have been identified for the transition or wind-up of work programmes. To ensure the sustainability of its work, the MFA Forum is focusing on capacitating actors in-country and on identifying and managing the transition to implementation bodies it works with, such as the ILO-IFC Better Work program. The significant lessons and learning from this unique organisation will be shared in early 2011.
The Forum has been hosted by the non-profit organisation AccountAbility and supported financially by the British, Swedish and US development agencies, by corporate contributions and in-kind support. For more information, please contact Kate Ives, email@example.com.
Quotes from participants:
Kindley Walsh Lawlor, Vice President, Social and Environmental Responsibility, Gap Inc.: “Gap Inc. made financial and operational investments in the MFA Forum because we saw it as an effective way to work with others to address social challenges that needed industry-wide solution. By working with the Forum in various countries, including Bangladesh, Lesotho and parts of Central America, we observed that they strengthened relationships among brands, NGOs, trade unions, national governments and multilateral organizations. As the Forum comes to a close and our industry faces new challenges, we are confident that the relationships established through the Forum will continue to drive positive change for workers and their communities across the globe."
Jean-Paul Sajhau, Team Leader of the Manufacturing, Mining and Energy sectors in the International Labour Organisation (ILO): “The MFA Forum has facilitated a constructive exchange of views, at a sectoral level, between all the parties concerned. In some countries like Morocco, the MFA Forum has, in collaboration with the ILO, allowed partners to benefit from direct access and support from the foreign buyers to reinforce the sectoral social dialogue.”
Laura Carter, Policy Assistant to the General Secretary, from the International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers’ Federation (ITGLWF): “The MFA Forum has furthered the notion that decent work is a key ingredient of competitiveness and that concerted action is needed from all sides to secure the future of the industry. For instance in Lesotho, where the garment sector is almost the sole source of manufacturing income, MFA Forum members have worked to improve working conditions and labour standards, to secure support for infrastructure development and to develop market openings.”
Lynda Yanz, Executive Director, Maquila Solidarity Network (MSN): “The MFA Forum has given labour rights NGOs like ourselves opportunities to speak directly with international brands, local manufacturers and governments about systemic problems in the global garment industry that are not being adequately addressed by company codes of conduct or government regulation. These include the impacts of irresponsible factory closures on workers and communities, sourcing decisions that are still based more on price than on decent labour practices, and barriers to freedom of association in many producer countries. The MFA Forum provided a space for many of these multi-stakeholder discussions to take place. Fortunately, they will continue beyond the life of the Forum.”
Abdellah Hassiane, President of the Moroccan Bi-partite Committee: “No one believed in the beginning that we would achieve what we have in Morocco. The Moroccan stakeholders now sit together at the same table, and speak about the sector’s competitiveness. They make plans on issues relating to social dialogue and social responsibility. The Moroccan Bi-partite Committee, established through the MFA Forum, is unique, and although the Forum closes in December, the Committee will remain strong.