Concrete improvements for garment workers are not forthcoming

The ‘Dutch Agreement on Sustainable Garments and Textile’ (CKT) was signed almost three years ago. Today, the CKT published its second annual report. The Clean Clothes Campaign (SKC) and SOMO conclude that there is hardly any positive impact for workers in countries such as Bangladesh, China, India, Pakistan and Turkey. Hardly any progress is made with supply chain transparency.


The annual report published today reports that 78% of the assessed companies are ‘on track’ and 8% ‘fully satisfied’. How the CKT reaches this percentage is not clear. Apart from confusing percentages, the annual report unfortunately provides hardly substantive substantiation. The CKT secretariat assesses the action plans of participating companies on the basis of an assessment framework. However, this framework has serious shortcomings. First, it is unclear how a company can achieve the maximum number of points. Secondly, most of the sub-questions are poorly or unclearly formulated. For example, 74 points can be obtained under the heading ‘Result indicators’. However, this is about formulating objectives and actions, not evidence of carrying out actions or bringing about measurable improvements in terms of labor rights, animal welfare or the environment. According to the agreement in the covenant, companies must achieve a 20% score in the first year (of their participation in the CKT), a 40% score in the second year, and a 60% score in the third year.

Very limited degree of transparency

No one outside the secretariat has insight into how points are awarded. In accordance with the agreements, participating companies must only report in their third year on risks in their chains and how they are dealt with. The first reports must be published this year before 4 June.

SKC and SOMO hope that these reports will provide more insight than the annual report of the CKT, but since this is a ‘form-free’ report, that remains to be seen; After all, companies are free to determine how they present their story

On the positive side, the CKT publishes a list of production locations where the companies affiliated with the CKT produce. Unfortunately, this is an aggregated list, so CKT companies cannot be directly linked to the factories where their products are made. This while more and more companies are making all their production locations known.

Complaints – no solutions

The CKT has a complaints mechanism, but is honest that this system is not yet active. Employees of factories that supply CKT companies are not yet informed of their existence. In the annual report, therefore, hardly anything worth mentioning is said about the complaints mechanism. Only the table ‘Follow-up in response to production list questions’ provides very brief information about six cases put forward by different authorities / organizations on different topics.

Civil society organizations, both members of the CKT and outside, do what they can to bring this complaint mechanism to the attention, but this is of course impossible work since it concerns more than 4200 (unique) locations.

Pauline Overeem from SOMO: “The aggregated production location list makes it impossible to see which brand produces in which factory. As a result, employees of a factory or the organizations that represent them cannot know which brand to turn to to address problems. This must always be done through the CKT secretariat. This is the indirect and slow route. So far from ideal. ”

Tempo is way too low

SKC and SOMO are of the opinion that the CKT and the participating companies make too little progress. The risks of labor rights violations in the textile and clothing chain have long been known.

Suzan Cornelissen from SKC; “SKC has been around for 30 years this year, and for 30 years we have been reporting with partner organizations on these risks, where they play a role (often even in which specific factories), what the underlying problems are and how they should be addressed. Real speed is now needed to actually improve the working conditions in the factories on the CKT list. “