04 August 2017

Labour Unions Campaign to Pressure Madagascar Government on Docker Rights Gathers Support  

More High Street Brands Join Campaign

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Shipping News Feature MADAGASCAR – A campaign by the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) to put pressure on the Government of Madagascar has been boosted by the news that member brands of the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) including household names such as Marks and Spencer, Skins Ltd, Next Plc and Mens' Warehouse UK have all joined the labour organisation's campaign to see that ethical standards applies to dock workers in the country in future and see the reinstatement of 43 workers who were dismissed for joining a union. Paddy Crumlin, president of the ITF said:

“ITF challenged global brands sourcing from Madagascar to step up and support the rights of dockworkers at the Port of Toamasina, and the response has been positive. We’ve seen concrete steps to support these workers, with brands writing directly to the Government of Madagascar calling on them to enforce international labour standards, reinstate 43 unfairly dismissed dockworkers and allow SYGMMA to represent workers at the port.

Category Leader of Apparel and Textiles at ETI, Martin Buttle, said:

“Not only were we concerned for the dock workers themselves, we were also concerned that action against legitimate union activity would deter investor confidence in Madagascar as a future sourcing market.

“In the letter to the government, we confirmed that our members wanted to continue sourcing from Madagascar but equally had to consider obligations to comply with international standards. With the full support of our members, we therefore asked that the government of Madagascar take steps to enforce its labour laws, ensure that the 43 dock workers were reinstated and allow the union to organise at the port.”

The garment industry is the largest employer of workers in the formal economy in Madagascar, employing 30% of the workforce. As a result, this intervention from leading brands is likely to be something that cannot be ignored by the Government of Madagascar. Mr Crumlin added that:

“The success of the public campaigning and private engagement shows quite clearly that for transport companies, like ICTSI, labour rights abuses may be part of their business model, but for fashion brands labour rights violations in their supply chains represent such a significant risk to the value of their brand that they are prepared to use their market influence to advocate for these workers.

“ITF is looking to the Government of Madagascar to show leadership, and step in to defend these workers’ basic human rights against ICTSI’s aggressive campaign to drive down their wages and conditions. These workers have waited long enough.”

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