PARIS — Zara owner Inditex has signed an agreement with the global labor federation IndustriALL to create a labor committee with representatives from its various activities, in a deal both sides are billing as an extension of labor rights for workers in the company’s supply chain.
The move comes amid growing scrutiny of working conditions in the garment industry and calls for more transparency.
In a statement announcing the deal, Inditex chairman Pablo Isla suggested it could have a “transformational knock-on effect on the overall garment industry.”
Working jointly with the industry’s stakeholders is “key to spreading best social and environmental practices throughout the value chain,” he added.
The move gives unions “a new tool to gain bargaining power,” said Valter Sanches, general secretary of IndustriALL.
The pair signed the agreement at International Labour Organization headquarters in Geneva. Inditex, which said it is the first fashion retailer to set up this type of committee with a global reach, noted that it would be made up of union representatives from six of its main “production clusters,” and include the main Spanish trade unions Comisiones Obreras and UGT.
The signing follows on the heels of an initial Global Framework Agreement signed between the two parties in 2007.
The committee is charged with exchanging best practices to strengthen working conditions for clothing, textile and footwear industry workers, according to Inditex’s description. It will have nine members from different regions, including one from Africa, one from the Americas, four from Asia, two from Western Europe and one from Eastern Europe.
Fashion retailers around the world are scrambling to show consumers that they are addressing the environmental and labor costs associated with the business of producing and selling large amounts of inexpensive clothing.