Last week, BHRC attended the 10th OECD Due Diligence Forum on the Apparel and Footwear Sector. Represented by our Senior Legal Advisor and Garment and Apparel Sector Lead, Grace Camara, BHRC met with representatives from government, business, trade unions and civil society to discuss progress on the implementation of the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains in the Garment and Footwear Sector, and to share learnings on implementing due diligence globally.

Our key takeaways from the Forum:

👉 Living wages – stakeholders recognise that a disparity between minimum and living wages can give rise to human rights violations. Brands should consider a sectoral agreement that agrees to a methodology on calculating living wages. Investor initiatives such as Platform Living Wage Financials, could help push the sector to address the minimum wages v living wages dilemma.

👉 Responsible supply chains in MENA & Turkey – Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia, and Türkiye exported $51.9 billion in textile, garments, and footwear in 2022, forming a substantial portion of their exports. A significant percentage of garment workers in MENA and Turkey are migrants. In Jordan almost 70% of workers are young people from Bangladesh and India. There are increasing incidences of forced labour in secondary and tertiary supply chains.

👉 Social audits and certifications – while audits are a necessary tool in identifying human rights violations in supply chains, a smart mix of independent grievance mechanisms that include community-based monitoring, responsible purchasing practices and effective remediation are needed.

👉 Grievance Mechanisms – complaints mechanisms should be viewed as complementary. Multiply avenues such as OECD – OCDE National Contact Points (NCPs), the German Supply Chain Act and the International Accord can be relied upon to address worker complaints. However, there is growing concerning about the number of parallel grievance mechanisms, which can make the process of seeking redress arduous and expensive. States need to ensure that the outcomes of complaints are enforced and that workers receive adequate compensation without retaliation.