Textiles, clothing, leather and footwear sector

The Textile, Clothing, Leather and Footwear (TCLF) sector is characterized by geographically dispersed production and rapid market-driven changes, providing employment opportunities to millions of workers worldwide especially for young women. Due to the scale and the profile of workers employed, the sector offers great potential to contribute significantly to economic and social development.

The trend of the sector towards faster and more flexible production and lower prices had been accelerated by the phase-out of the Multifibre Arrangement in 2005. The TCLF sector today is characterized by high volatility, low predictability, and generally low profit margins. Production is generally subcontracted to suppliers in different countries, leading to a forceful competition that brings costs down. Additionally, the sector remains among the most labour-intensive industries, despite advances in technology and workplace practices.

The Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh in 2013 and the factory fire in Pakistan in 2012 were a tipping point in the world of work. These tragic accidents called world attention to the working conditions of garment workers in general. Since then, enhanced cooperation between tripartite constituents and other stakeholders has resulted in the negotiation of new initiatives at global and national levels.

ILO promotes decent work in the textiles, clothing, leather and footwear sector by:
  • promoting social dialogue on main challenges and opportunities in the sector as well as building consensus among tripartite constituents on measures to address them;
  • increasing and disseminating knowledge on recent trends and developments;
  • supporting the implementation of international labour standards and workplace compliance;
  • building capacity of sectoral constituents on different issues (OSH, skills, minimum wages, etc);
  • strengthening partnerships and policy coherence among different stakeholders at global, regional and country levels.