Better Work Branch (BETTERWORK)

Mission and vision

Better Work, Better Business, Better World

More than sixty million workers across the developing world rely on the garment and footwear industry for employment. While factories are a valuable source of jobs and can help improve the livelihoods of workers and their families, poor working conditions remain a pressing issue across the sector.

Better Work aims to change that. We prove that safe, dignified work means more productive factories, and a more profitable business model that benefits workers, managers, countries and consumers alike.

A flagship programme of the ILO, jointly run with the World Bank Group’s International Finance Corporation, we specialize in lasting improvements rather than quick fixes. On-the-ground in eight countries across three continents, we work directly with 1,250 factories reaching more than 1.5 million workers and their communities.

We also unite diverse stakeholders—governments, unions, employers, academics and many of the world’s leading apparel brands and retailers—leading the conversation about what a responsible and competitive global garment industry should look like.

Watch our video, read on below or visit our website to find out more about how we work and what we’ve achieved to date.

What we do

Changing policy and practice

At the factory level we:
  • Establish and mentor worker-management committees, helping them identify and tackle challenges in their factories.
  • Make unannounced assessments to check compliance with national law and international labour standards.
  • Provide advisory and learning services to support sustainable improvement.
At the country level we work with national constituents to build capacity, influence labour law and strengthen industrial relations. We also improve competitiveness and strengthen the private sector, with benefits for factories performing well.

At the international level we lead pioneering, independent research on the state of the industry with some 15,000 workers and managers surveyed to date. We also influence policy change, facilitate debate with industry leaders and act as a global authority on the apparel sector.

Our impact

Some achievements at a glance

  • 50% improvement in occupational safety and health in Haiti, Jordan and Vietnam.
  • 100% compliance in paying correct minimum wages, paid leave, and social security benefits in Jordan among factories participating for more than two years.
  • 91% of factories now have workers’ contracts in line with the law in Haiti.
  • Elimination of formalized HIV/AIDS discrimination in factories in Lesotho.
  • 65% of Better Work Vietnam factories have seen a rise in total sales, 62% have increased production capacity, and 60% have expanded employment.
  • In Haiti, improvements in working conditions facilitated by Better Work have coincided with an increase of over 40% in the value of apparel exports to the United States.