Better Work has launched a partnership with the Crystal International Group Limited, a clothing manufacturer based in Hong Kong, to expand its influence in a new direction in the garment industry since December 2019. The signing of a global manufacturer represents a first for Better Work, as previous agreements have directly engaged brands at the global level and individual supplier factories.
“It’s an exciting partnership for us,” says Dan Rees, Better Work Director, “We now have a lot of evidence that Better Work’s approach makes a difference, both to the wellbeing of workers and the productivity of businesses, but the challenge we have set ourselves is scale – how do we get these positive results out to millions more workers in the garment industry? The agreement with Crystal allows us to take an important step in that direction.”
Crystal International employs approximately 80,000 workers across five countries, with the presence in Vietnam, China, Cambodia, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. It produces 470 million pieces of apparel in 2018 including lifestyle wear, denim, intimate, sweater and sportswear and outdoor apparel.
Catherine Chiu, the General Manager of corporate quality and sustainability department of the Crystal International welcomed the collaboration. “(we are) delighted to be the first manufacturer partnership with the ILO and Better Work. We would like to be a pioneer in the industry to show our commitment to upholding international and national labour standards, and our factories in Vietnam, Cambodia and Bangladesh have already participated in Better Work’s projects,” she said.
Nguyen Hong Ha, Head of Better Work Asia Pacific, anticipates this agreement be the first of many. “Our aim is to create a network of leading manufacturers that are committed to elevating the level of compliance in the industry. We believe they can be really powerful drivers of positive change and show what kind of progress is possible.”
The agreement with Crystal International will see them progressively roll out Better Work’s systems for measuring and improving the company’s factory performance on working conditions as laid out in International Labour Organisation (ILO) standards and national labour laws. An early step will be the phasing out of overlapping factory audits and remediation plans.
Better Work, for its part, will work to train Crystal International staff to identify and deal with workplace issues and resolve potential problems early, including in factory supply chains. “It’s going to be a significant partnership for Better Work,” says Nguyen. “In the long run, we see the company taking our expertise and engaging with lower-tier suppliers. In this way, Crystal International and other manufacturers can be a real multiplier of our impact.”
Better Work, a partnership between the ILO and the International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group, brings together governments, employers, workers and international buyers to improve compliance with labour standards and promote competitiveness in global supply chains. It has operations in eight countries: Bangladesh, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Haiti, Jordan, Nicaragua and Vietnam.