JO-IN PROJECT UPDATE – APRIL 2006
We are pleased to present the following summary of the progress made and the issues we are currently working on:
• Consultation with Supplier Companies. The Jo-In project conducted meetings with supplier companies that were invited to participate in the project. The supplier companies were informed in detail about the projects’ planned activities and given an opportunity to share their concerns. Many supplier companies expressed their hesitations about being able to show increased compliance to the three issues the project is focussing on (freedom of association and collective bargaining, hours of work and wages), at a time when the Turkish Textile and Garment industry is going through a difficult period. The following were frequently cited as some of the challenges they are currently encountering: the changing competitive conditions in the world market, the over-valuation of Turkish Lira, the increasing labour and input costs, as well as decreasing customer prices and orders. Supplier companies requested clarification on how the living wage will be treated in particular, and also requested clarification whether the inclusion of freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining will necessarily lead to the establishment of a trade union in their factory. Many companies noted that they have made efforts to decrease overtime work. The Jo-In staff forwarded its report on the meetings with supplier companies to the Jo-In Steering Committee. Some of the issues that suppliers raised were answered immediately, while others – such as the living wage issue- are currently being clarified.
• Signed Terms of Engagement. As of today, the terms of engagement with supplier factories has been signed by 5 out of 15 supplier firms who were invited to join the project. However, as consultations with brands and suppliers are continuing, it is expected that more supplier companies will agree to join the project. The signatory companies are suppliers to GAP, Adidas, Puma, Marks and Spencer and Nike. Also, it is likely that a supplier from Patagonia will join the project. A seminar was held in Istanbul on March 28th with three previously selected Otto suppliers to discuss their potential participation in the project. It is expected that the project will commence the initial part of the trials, the factory assessments, in May with at least 6-7 suppliers.
• The selection process and training of Jo-In Assessment Team. During the selection process, Jo-In staff consulted with all local stakeholders, most commercial auditing companies in Turkey and two Universities to ask whether they had any suggestions for candidates. In total, 35 different people and organizations were consulted and 25 resumes were received. After Jo-In staff interviewed 17 people, a detailed assessment report about the candidates was submitted to the steering committee with recommendations on the make-up of the assessment team. Jo-In staff is pleased to report that the The Steering Committee approved the suggested candidates. As a next step, a training and briefing workshop were conducted for the assessment team, with the active participation of experienced people in the field.
• Jo-In Trial assessment and interview protocols. The Jo-In Steering Committee, together with Jo-In staff, has drafted an assessment protocol, an information protocol and an interview protocol. The assessment protocol was circulated at the beginning of February and feedback was received from key project stakeholders. The information protocol is available on the Jo-In website while the assessment and interview protocols will be made publicly available after the factory assessments.
• Explanatory note on living wage. Members of the Jo-In Steering Committee have drafted this explanatory note in responses to requests by brands, suppliers and some trade unions to clarify the project’s treatment of the living wage provision of the Jo-In draft Common Code. This explanatory note is also available on this website.
• Local and International Working/Advisory Group. After the international stakeholder conference in Istanbul in October, as well as additional consultations with project stakeholders, the Steering Committee decided to formalize the engagement of project stakeholders to feed into the project. On a national level in Turkey, this will entail the creation of a local working group that will meet two or three times during the course of the year. Jo-In is planning to convene a first meeting of a local working group at the end of April to discuss the project and the issue of living wage. The relevant parties will be informed on the agenda and exact time of the meeting during the next couple of weeks. The efforts for establishing an International Consultative Group are underway.
• Training workshop on the activities of the participant organizations of Jo-In. After an initial needs analysis was conducted to determine the content, form, duration, number of participants and the expectations of the parties from the training workshop, a full two-day training course has now been completed. The training course tentatively scheduled for June in Istanbul.
• Jo-In Trial Project Independent Observer Group. The Steering Committee has decided to set up a group that will monitor and evaluate the project impartially. Suggestions for names have been circulated internally and it is expected that the make up of this group will be finalized during the coming weeks.
• The research project on subcontracting, including unregistered employees and home-workers in the supply chain, has not yet been started. However, Consultations with stakeholders on this issue have begun, and Jo-In staff has received some initial proposals from Universities willing to carry out this work. After all the funds are in place, it is expected that this research will start during summer time.