JO-IN End-Conference to be convened on 11 December, in Istanbul
The JO-IN Steering Committee has confirmed the date of 11 December for the JO-IN End-Conference in Istanbul. This will be an International Consultation, in style similar to the successful May event at Bogazici University, providing another opportunity for JO-IN's international participants to meet with the Turkish local stakeholders.
The draft agenda (still under discussion) envisages both a review of progress over the Remediations phase of the Project, as well as a forward- looking discussion as to 'Future of JO-IN' in Turkey and elsewhere.
The 2 JO-IN research reports will also be tabled, presenting findings on
1. the dynamics of the Turkish garment industry's sub-contracting sector, and
2. the state of health of the complaints processes available to Turkish workers in the garment industry
Progress with the JO-IN Remediations Process over the summer
The consultative and participatory model for the Remediations Process initiated by JO-IN in the spring has continued over the summer at all 6 of the Supplier companies participating in the Project. The focus in most cases has been on
(a) agreeing a list of 'basic' compliance problem areas that companies can attend to by themselves with the support of Buyers' compliance staff;
(b) developing a response to a widespread 'root cause' problem (identified in the JO-IN assessments) in the area of Freedom of Association
(c) developing a response amongst the 50% of the JO-IN-participating Suppliers to production or supply-chain problems which make it difficult for them to meet their JO-IN commitment to achieve progress towards a Living Wage during the lifetime of the Project.
In most cases, collaboration in the 4-stage Remediations Consultations process
has been such as to achieve agreement on the Remediations needed at Stage 3, allowing Stage 4 to be devoted primarily to the Freedom of Association focus.
Freedom of Association 'Training' begins in September, with Consultation
In keeping with the consultative/participatory model that JO-IN is using, a JO-IN team visited each of 5 workplaces in the week 17-21 September for a half-day discussion with company management about (1) what Freedom of Association is, and what it means for Supplier Management, and (2) what needs to be done to develop the right in each workplace, given the conditions prevailing in Turkey.
The consultations were led by Vic Thorpe, the JO-IN Chairperson, who is also an acknowledged international expert on Freedom of Association issues.
The JO-IN proposal, supported by all consulted Suppliers after extended discussions, was to develop a Curriculum/Methodology for Freedom of Association, in consultation with all stakeholders and including the workers-to-be-trained. A mechanism for ensuring full worker participation in the curriculum development process was agreed, which will involve Suppliers making paid working hours available and providing access to workers for JO-IN-approved trainers. The curriculum to be developed will also cater for training for other categories of employees (e.g. supervisors) and also management themselves.
It is envisaged that not only separate trainings, but also joint trainings, will be part of the process.
The next step is to consult the other JO-IN stakeholders (brands, trade unions, NGOs etc.), and this is scheduled for October.
The 'Living Wage' issue: JO-IN Wage Ladder to be further developed
Also during October, a small team of Turkish academics will begin to update and develop the JO-IN Wage Ladder. This was presented at the JO-IN International Consultation at Bogazici University in May 2007 in a 'work in progress' form, measuring take-home pay (plus payments in kind) in the last quarter of 2006 at the 6 JO-IN participating Suppliers in Turkey and comparing these figures with the family income levels called 'poverty level' and 'starvation level' by trade unions in Turkey.
The JO-IN research team will be approaching the 6 JO-IN-linked suppliers for details of current pay levels, differentiated by department this time (cutting, sewing, finishing etc) and also taking gender into account. Pay levels will this time be measured against family size, numbers of wage earners per family, and the different costs-of-living per region will be factored into the comparison.
The JO-IN Wage Ladder is a mechanism which seeks to avoid sterile debate about the 'correct' amount for a Living Wage, and seeks instead to involve relevant stakeholders (e.g. employers and employees) in creatively looking for ways to combat the negative social and work-related effects of low pay, which all agree is a serious problem in Turkey.
JO-IN Re-Assessments to be conducted in November
During November, a small team of JO-IN Assessors will visit the 6 JO-IN participating suppliers to assess progress made since the original JO-IN assessments at the end of 2006 on the 3 key JO-IN focus areas of Wages, Hours of Work, and Freedom of Association.
The on-site team will comprise different assessors from those used by JO-IN a year ago, as the original team is no longer available, but a clear continuity will be ensured since the assessments will be based mainly on
- the original on-site and off-site assessment reports
- comments received from stakeholders on those reports
- the agreed 'remediations' plans for the factories
- any available interim reports carried out (e.g. by Brands)
The outcome of the re-assessment will be presented at the JO-IN End-Conference on December 11, where the emphasis will be on acknowledgement of progress made, and identification of factors that have hindered progress.
The 'Future of JO-IN' discussion
In recent months the JO-IN Steering Committee has been spending more and more time on the monthly conference calls on the question of 'whither JO-IN?' after the formal closure of the Project at 31 December 2007.
Self-evidently, there will need to be some continuity in Turkey in early 2008, to monitor some of the sub-projects that will not be completed in 2007. It seems likely that some of the JO-IN member bodies will collaborate to cover this. The JO-IN Final Report will also need to be written and circulated to all stakeholders
But many other questions remain:
In the Turkish context, for example:
- If the complaints mechanisms for workers in Turkey need development and monitoring, who will do that?
- Once a curriculum/methodology for Freedom of Association training is under development in Turkey, who will take it forward?
- What is the future, if any, of the JO-IN Turkish Local Working Group beyond the Project?
And on the broader, global stage:
- Will the JO-IN Code become the official code of all the JO-IN member bodies?
- Will the 6 JO-IN member bodies continue their convergence process towards better collaboration, and if so, how?
- Are there other, specific national contexts towards which a JO-IN 2 Project should be launched?
The JO-IN International Advisory Panel has joined this discussion also, and a key focus of the JO-IN End Conference will be on this issue, once the evaluation of progress in Turkey has been made via the re-assessments report.