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How H&M supporting suppliers and workers of Bangladesh apparels

Swedish fashion retail giant Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) continues to place a significant number of orders with their apparel supply chain partners in Bangladesh. H&M is the world’s second biggest fashion retailer but the largest for Bangladesh in terms of the volume of readymade garments sourced from here.

Last year the Swedish retailer purchased apparel products worth approximately $3.5 billion from its 235 Bangladeshi garment suppliers, contributing to over 10 percent of the country’s total apparel exports. Not only promoting business, H&M remarks sustainability in Bangladesh.

They have some initiative for establishing this:

  1. Social dialogue
  2. Fire Safety
  3. Increase Skills
  4. University educations &scholarship
  5. Healthcare
  6. Helpline

Social dialogue

In order to get better long-term working relationships, there is a thirst for a positive dialogue between employees and employers.  The outcome is to strengthen the workers on how workers’ committees can be formed and how to negotiate their rights, so they eventually can take over the process and discuss on their own. So with the help of external experts, employees at five selected suppliers are educated in how workers committees can be formed through democratic elections as well as how to negotiate with management.

To achieve their goal it is also cardinal to address management. Hence, they also educate their employers and suppliers.

Fire safety

To improve fire safety in the Bangladeshi textile factories, H&M launched a film project, together with 18 other brands with the aim to educate employees as well as management. H&M began to show the educational videos for their suppliers and their employees during autumn 2020. The goal is to pinnacle about 3 million workers at 4 500 factories in the Bangladeshi textile industry over the next two years.

Increase skills

A skilled labor force is important for the development of the garment industry in Bangladesh and since many years H&M drives a vocational sewing school in Dhaka.  Now, H&M along with the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association as well as the government agency Bureau of Manpower, starts a project to increase and glorify the capacity of twelve more vocational schools. The ambition is that more people will go to school to acquire better technical skills as well as knowledge of their rights and responsibilities, and thus have greater chance to influence their own and the industry’s dream in a positive direction.

H&M
Figure 1: H&M opens training facility for Bangladesh apparel industry. (Source: textalks, 2020).

University education and scholarships

H&M wants to aid the opportunity for higher education and offers, in cooperation with Grameen Foundation, a financial support to university students in Bangladesh.  During the five years to come, H&M gave financial support to 20 students every year.  In 2020, twenty students were awarded scholarships, of which half are studying textile education and the other are studying subjects such as economics, law, political science and agriculture.

Health care

It is important to help improve access to health care for workers in the garment industry. Therefore H&M, in collaboration with suppliers and USAID project smiling Sun, subsidize health care for workers and their families when they visit any of the Smiling Sun’s 320 clinics.

H&M
Figure 2: H&M foundation to support female garment workers in Bangladesh. (Source: Just style)

Helpline

Violence and abuse against women is a social problem in Bangladesh.  H&M notifies the problem by opening up a help line for women. In addition, H&M conducts an information campaign in collaboration with selected suppliers, in which we clarify their stance on zero tolerance for violence against women. The help line is open to the public, and caters to all women, also outside the textile industry, who are vulnerable or have been victims of violence.

It is also staffed by women from Acid Victims Organization that provide advice and suggestions on rights and support women to move on. H&M will fund, mesmerizing and improve the help line construction for two years and our ambition is to involve more partners so new audiences can be reached, supported and helped.

Conclusion

In 1947, the womenswear store Hennes opened in Västerås, Sweden. Today, H&M Group is a global fashion and design company with 56 online markets and stores in 76 markets. Bangladesh is one of the leading manufacturer of H&M. By promoting sustainability it helps to increase the livelihood of workers and employees of garments sector.

If anyone has any feedback or input regarding the published news, please contact: info@textiletoday.com.bd

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