Tesco today announced the launch an Apparel Skills Foundation to support the Bangladesh ready-made garment industry. The Skills Foundation's objective is to equip the industry with training, expertise and tools to improve productivity while improving conditions, pay and opportunities for factory workers. It increases the overall long-term competitiveness and sustainability of the industry in Bangladesh.
Joint-funded by the Department for International Development (DFID), the Skills Foundation, whose premises are located in the Bangladesh capital of Dhaka, will show managers how to improve productivity and working conditions at the same time. The Foundation will train and upskill factory owners on better worker management, ethical leadership and new production techniques to increase productivity.
Initiatives that have already been trialled in pilot programmes, which include reducing long working hours, giving workers productivity bonuses and implementing mentoring and buddy systems for new workers, have improved the working environment as well as making the factories more productive and sustainable.
The Skills Foundation is open to all garment producers in Bangladesh, whether or not they supply Tesco. The Skills Foundation expects to train over 100 factories by the end of 2015, with a potential to improve the lives of up to 250,000 garment workers in Bangladesh.
Attending the opening of the Skills Foundation on Saturday 10th November, Dame Lucy Neville-Rolfe, Tesco's Executive Director for Corporate and Legal Affairs, said: 'The Skills Foundation is a smart, sustainable business solution. Increasing efficiency and productivity will improve the lives, pay and conditions of garment factory workers while enabling us to deliver high quality clothing to our customers at affordable prices without comprising on ethics. This is the right thing to do and a win-win for Tesco, our suppliers and their workers, and our customers.'
Secretary of State for International Development, Justine Greening, said:"This Skills Foundation will act as a great example to show how responsible and ethical garment production is good for business and that commercial and financial results can be boosted when employment conditions improve.
"I am delighted that, together, Tesco and the UK Government are encouraging this much needed positive change in the garment industry in Bangladesh with the Responsible and Accountable Garment Sector (RAGS) Challenge Fund."
Notes to Editors
- The Skills Foundation is a joint initiative with DFID and their Responsible and Accountable Garment Sector (RAGS) Challenge Fund aimed at supporting the ready-made garment production sector.
- Tesco is a founding member of the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) and committed to ensuring good labour standards right throughout the supply chain.
- The pilot programme for the Skills Foundation launched with 3 factories in May 2012 and has already seen very promising results. Since May 2012, workers' pay per hour has gone up by 19%, monthly working hours are down 16%, labour turnover is down 45%, absenteeism is down 25% and line efficiency is up 20% on the pilot line.
- Tesco opened its sourcing office in Dhaka, Bangladesh in 2002 and last year exported £310 million worth of products from Bangladesh. Tesco has clothing and non-food sourcing offices in 8 countries across the globe.
- The Skills Foundation will be registered as a not-for-profit organisation under the name 'Solutions 4 Management International' in Bangladesh.