Fair Wear Foundation (FWF)
Fair Wear Foundation works to improve workplace conditions in the garment and textile industries. FWF verifies that its member companies implement the FWF Code of Labour Practices in their supply chains.
Trust and cooperation is repeatedly emphasised in the FWF approach, with a focus on tailored remediation that utilises local expertise.
The FWF has also put living wage issues at the core of its work.
FWF has a tripartite governance structure, with equal representation for business associations, trade unions and NGOs on the Board.
Regarding funding, more than half of FWF's revenues come from membership dues and audit fees. Another large chunk – around one-third of total revenues - come from various EU and UN-related subsidies.
FWF has nearly 100 member companies from all over Europe and is active in production countries like China, India, Bangladesh and Turkey (around 80% of production comes from these countries).
Eligible companies must be based in Europe, and can include include producers, distributors, wholesalers, and retailers. Garment and textile manufacturers can also join FWF as long as they operate in a producing country where FWF is active.
Member companies tend to be from the small and medium end of the apparel market.
FWF conducts ‘verification audits’ at a sample of the factories which supply member companies. It currently focuses on working conditions and labour rights.
Designed for the garment industry, its Code of Labour Practices is guided by eight core principles, mostly derived from ILO conventions.
1) No forced labour
2) No discrimination in employment
3) No child labour
4) Freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining
5) Payment of a living wage
6) No excessive working hours
7) Safe and healthy working conditions
8) Legally binding employment relationship.
FWF audit teams are assembled with advice from local stakeholders. Worker interviewers are often representatives of local NGOs with relevant expertise. These teams are drawn from local partner networks established in various countries.
Emerging as it has from civil society (NGOs and trade unions), FWF has not received as much criticism as some more business-friendly entities.
However, although the FWF deserves praise for bringing on board many of the small to medium companies often ignored by other initiatives, and despite its European focus, its list of members is noticeably short of larger brands or retailers.
Although it doesn't carry a consumer-facing label on individual items of clothing, FWF encourages its brand members to be transparent about their participation in order to encourage consumer awareness and vigilance.
Company members can publicise membership on their websites. If using the FWF logo in store, however, members must first ask permission and are also not allowed to claim that their products are '100% fair'.
FWF provides a full breakdown of its funding sources in its annual reports.