Radical change is only successful when everyone is involved and everyone works together.
We cannot go any further on our own
We are often confronted with systemic challenges within the sectors we operate in. Their roots lie deep in the globalised economy. Low wages, unsafe workplaces and child labour are a few examples.
These are the areas where we cannot go any further on our own. We need radical change.
If this is to happen, politicians, companies, employers’ associations, trade unions and non-governmental organisations must all work together. That is why we are involved in various initiatives – both at industry level and beyond. Together, we can change ourselves and the world for the better.
Radical change is only successful when everyone is involved and everyone works together. That is our route to success.
We believe it is important that the interests of workers and other stakeholders are represented in our initiatives. We have been working in partnership with IndustriALL Global Union and its members for many years, for example to promote fire and building safety in the Bangladesh Accord or living wages in ACT on Living Wages.
Our response to the challenges facing our industries is to take a sector-wide approach. Nevertheless, new and systemic solutions require a lot of time. They deal with complex problems and must involve all those affected. The progress made with these solutions may seem small-scale and not immediately obvious, but it is very valuable for the systemic change we are striving for.
Our sector-wide initiatives
International Accord for Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry
In 2012, a year before the devastating Rana Plaza factory collapse even happened, Tchibo was instrumental in negotiating the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh. Today, it is the most successful initiative in the world for improving working conditions in the textile industry. As of 2021, 190 brand companies had joined, bringing 1,600 factories and over two million people in Bangladesh into the programme.
Before the Accord, the factories were in a very bad condition. Workers often had to endure potentially life-threatening conditions. These days, workers in the factories are afforded better protection. Since the Accord was founded, there have been no fatal fires or collapses in the factories that signed up. This could not have been achieved without the cooperation of companies, producers, trade unions and the non-governmental organisations involved.
Since June 2020, the implementation work of the Accord in Bangladesh has been merged into the Ready-Made Garments Sustainability Council (RSC), an independent national organisation in which brand companies, the trade union federations IndustriALL Global Union and UNI Global Union, and the Bangladesh Garment/Knitwear Manufacturing and Export Association (BGMEA and BKMEA) work together as equal partners.
After an extension of the Bangladesh Accord in 2018, it was merged into the newly established International Accord for Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry in September 2021. The signatory companies commit to continuing the Accord's work in Bangladesh. Tchibo had clearly spoken out in favour of an extension and expansion together with the global trade unions and was one of the first companies to sign the new agreement.
ACT on Living Wages
Our goal is to ensure that Tchibo goods are produced under fair conditions. This includes securing living wages for the people in our supply chains. Through the ACT (Action, Collaboration, Transformation) initiative, we are working with over 18 global brands and IndustriALL to achieve living wages in the textile industry.
Our vision is to see regular wage negotiations between trade unions and employers throughout a country’s textile industry, combined with better purchasing practices and long-term business relationships for purchasing companies. This allows wages to increase gradually until they reach the level of a living wage.
We are adapting our purchasing practices to provide manufacturers with long-term planning and financial security. This enables them to pay higher wages. Fair payment terms are also part of this. A core part of our ACT obligations is that we work with our producers to ensure that wage and labour costs are a fixed part of price calculations and are therefore excluded from any negotiations on price.
Once an industry-wide collective wage agreement has been negotiated in a country, ACT companies commit as a group to keep our purchasing volumes in that country at the same level or above for several years. This fosters long-term change and gives the social partners the time and power to negotiate wages on a regular basis.
The ACT priority countries: Bangladesh, Cambodia, Turkey, Myanmar (until 2021)
Partnership for Sustainable Textiles
Tchibo has been a member of the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles since 2015. The Partnership sees companies, associations, policymakers, non-governmental and standards organisations, trade unions and academics working together to improve social and environmental standards in supply chains. The Partnership for Sustainable Textiles offers us the German textile industry the opportunity to work together to develop and implement common standards.
The Partnership for Sustainable Textiles is what is known as a multi-stakeholder partnership. Membership should include as many German stakeholders in the textile and garment sector as possible. This includes large retailers such as Tchibo, traditional German textile and shoe manufacturers, all the way down to smaller fair fashion brands, but also trade unions, NGOs such as the 'Clean Clothes Campaign' or Transparency International, as well as the policymakers who are responsible for defining the framework conditions within which we operate.
The Partnership cooperates with international initiatives that advocate for a sustainable and future-proof textile industry, such as the Fair Wear Foundation, ACT on Living Wages or the Sustainable Apparel Coalition. This reinforces the positive learning and implementation benefits for members and makes the Partnership even more valuable for us.
Tchibo is a member of the following partnership initiatives in the Textile Partnership:
- Tamil Nadu Partnership Initiative
- Climate Protection Expert Group
- Natural Fibres Expert Group
In the Tamil Nadu Alliance Initiative, we are working together with the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the non-governmental organisation FEMNET e.V. and the companies Hugo Boss, KiK and Otto Group to systemically improve working conditions in the textile and garment industry in the Indian state of the same name, especially for women and girls in spinning mills. The non-governmental organisation SAVE is implementing the programme on the ground and initiating changes at several levels: A dialogue is intended to sensitise the main stakeholders in the local textile industry, including the government, to the rights of workers. In addition, a training programme accompanies the planned establishment of legally required grievance and arbitration committees in spinning mills and factories. Workers and management are informed about their labour rights and grievance mechanisms. After the end of the first project phase in September 2020, we have been continuing the project in a second phase since November 2021.