The international Better Work program is being implemented in Uzbekistan, aimed at creating and supporting favorable conditions for doing business in the cotton, textile, sewing and knitting sectors of the country’s economy. We have high hopes for this program, as it has helped many countries focused on cotton-related industries to significantly improve economic performance. Taking into account the positive experience and effectiveness of the Better Work initiative on an international scale, it was decided to implement it in Uzbekistan. We learned all the details of this work from Abu YUSUF, the program manager.
– Agreements were reached and a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed by Government, employers and workers on the implementation of the «Better Work» program – a joint initiative by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC). This new programme aims to work with enterprises of the textile and clothing and knitwear industries in Uzbekistan, in order to improve labor standards and increase competitiveness in global supply chains. What will the introduction of Better Work bring to Uzbekistan?
– The Better Work programme (www.betterwork.org) approaches industry change at different levels. We work directly with factories, through our assessment, training and advisory sessions. We help enterprises to improve working conditions and comply with National Labour Laws and International Labour Standards. We also liaise with international brands and retailers, who source from these enterprises, and support them to improve their purchasing practices and overall supply chain health. By engaging with Better Work, enterprises are able to share the Transparent Compliance status with the international buyers. This helps enterprises to increase opportunity doing business with international buyers. In parallel, research and advocacy work at the sectoral/national level addresses issues that go beyond individual enterprises. In Uzbekistan, the points agreed upon in the MOU make reference to the broader enabling environment that needs to be in place for Better Work to run a successful operation long-term. Together with other ILO projects and other development partners, we hope to support the entire cotton, textile, garment industry in Uzbekistan to become more competitive globally while improving compliance with national labour laws and international labour standards. In line with the priorities outlined in MOU, we will work together with constituents to create an enabling environment for Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining as well as support in strengthening the capacity of the Labour Inspection Department and the social partners in general. We also strive to bring more global brands and retailers to source from Uzbekistan now that the cotton ban has been lifted. A third element of our work is as a global convenor: we use our leverage to bring supply chain actors together to address industry challenges and to find longer term sustainable solutions for brands, suppliers and workers alike.
By making Uzbekistan the 13th Better Work country programme, Better Work will build on our experience and successes in other key textile/garment producing countries, which has contributed to better working conditions for workers, more decent jobs – in particular for women – and increases in export volumes in all countries that we work in.