Background: In April 2022, Indian women- and Dalit-worker led union TTCU signed a historic agreement with clothing and textile manufacturer Eastman Exports to end gender-based violence and harassment at Eastman factories in Dindigul, in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, India. TTCU, GLJ-ILRF, and AFWA also signed a legally binding agreement, subject to arbitration, with multinational fashion company H&M, which has an ongoing business relationship with Eastman Exports. This agreement requires H&M to support and enforce the TTCU-Eastman Exports agreement. Under the terms of the agreement, if Eastman Exports violates its commitments, H&M is obligated to impose business consequences on Eastman Exports until Eastman comes into compliance.
Together, these interlocking agreements constitute the Dindigul Agreement — an “enforceable brand agreement” (EBA) in which multinational companies legally commit to labor and allies to use their supply chain relationships to support a worker- or union-led program at certain factories or worksites.
Scope: The Dindigul Agreement covers all workers at Natchi Apparel and Eastman Spinning Mills, in total over 5000 workers. Almost all workers at these units are women and are caste-oppressed, and the majority are Dalit, born into the lowest rung of Hinduism’s caste system and subject to severe discrimination. Many are 18-22 years old, and many are migrants from neighboring states who live in management-owned dormitories and do not speak the local language. The Dindigul Agreement lasts three years with the possibility of renewal.
Components to end gender-based violence and harassment: The Dindigul Agreement creates conditions for union-led collective action to end GBVH at Natchi Apparel and Eastman Spinning Mills in the following ways:
Governance: The Dindigul Agreement creates an Oversight Committee to supervise the execution of the Agreement, composed of an independent gender and labor rights expert and representatives from TTCU, AFWA, GLJ-ILRF, Eastman, and up to two signatory fashion companies (if additional fashion companies join the Dindigul Agreement). The Oversight Committee role includes receiving any reports from the Agreement’s independent grievance mechanism (discussed below) that Eastman Exports has failed to comply with the Agreement, which also triggers mandatory action from H&M under its legally binding agreement with TTCU, AFWA and GLJ-ILRF.
Enforcement: The Dindigul Agreement includes a legally binding agreement between TTCU, AFWA and GLJ-ILRF and H&M that creates support and accountability for Eastman’s compliance with the terms of Eastman’s agreement with TTCU. H&M is required to take steps to impose business consequences for Eastman Exports if Eastman Exports violates its agreement with TTCU. This agreement is enforceable through binding arbitration in Stockholm, Sweden, the home jurisdiction of H&M. If H&M breaks their contract with TTCU, for example by failing to impose business consequences on Eastman Exports as required, TTCU, AFWA, or GLJ-ILRF or witness signatories can enforce the contract against the fashion company through arbitration. The contract includes clauses from the Model Arbitration Clauses for the Resolution of Disputes under Enforceable Brand Agreements, co-authored by GLJ-ILRF.
Making history: The Dindigul Agreement is the first EBA in India, where clothing manufacturing is the second largest employer for women after agriculture. The Agreement is also the first EBA in the world to include both clothing factories and factories that produce fabric and textiles for use in clothing, Dindigul being a global hub for manufacturing textiles that get used in clothing factories in India and around the world. The Dindigul Agreement was the central demand of the Justice for Jeyasre Campaign, led by TTCU, AFWA and GLJ-ILRF and honors the loss and legacy of Jeyasre Kathiravel, a Dalit woman and TTCU member murdered by her supervisor at Natchi Apparel in January 2021.Dindigul-Agreement-Fact-Sheet-FINAL-5.17
Advancing Gender Justice on Asian Fast Fashion Supply Chains Post COVID-19: Learning from ILO’s Convention 190 on Its First Anniversary, reviews the gendered impact of COVID-19—and the need for a transformational approach to prevent and end GBVH using guidance from C190—in the context of Asian fast fashion supply chains which produce primarily consumer apparel and footwear. The report highlights the persistent risk factors for violence that both predate and are exacerbated by COVID-19. It provides detailed guidance for fast fashion lead firms on steps they can take to uphold C190 obligations to address violence on garment supply chains in context of the global public health crisis and the economic shocks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. While this report focuses on fast fashion supply chains, the guidance for corporate accountability to achieve violence free workplaces provides an important roadmap across global supply chain sectors.Advancing-Gender-Justice-on-Asian-Fast-Fashion-Supply-Chains-Post-COVID-19-Guidance-from-ILO’s-Convention-190-on-its-First-Anniversary-single-page