JAAF pledges support to ILO’s Better Work initiative

● Better Work aims at strengthening resilience of the industry
● An opportunity to partner with local and international stakeholders

The apex body of the apparel industry, the Joint Apparel Association
Forum (JAAF) pledged absolute support to the ILO’s Better Work initiative demonstrating the
industry’s deep commitment to prioritising people and their well-being. The ILO recently
launched Better Work (BW) with the objective of strengthening the resilience of industry using
Better Work’s extensive experience, tools and partnerships exemplifying a human-centered
recovery and growth. Recognizing that the apparel sector in Sri Lanka starts from a relatively
high bar, the BW programme for Sri Lanka is not a roll out of the programme done in other
countries but is bespoke to Sri Lanka allowing companies to build on the work already done in
this area
One of the industries in focus in Better Work, is the apparel industry, Sri Lanka’s largest
exporter employing nearly one million both directly and indirectly across 350 manufacturing
plants island wide. Better Work concentrates on occupational safety and health, gender diversity
and inclusion including leadership skills training and career development for women workers,
empowering Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) with leadership and financial literacy
training and an SME factory improvement toolkit.
The apparel industry’s internationally acclaimed trust and reputation is anchored in the unique
niche of prioritising ethical labour practices and JAAF believes strongly that Better Work is an
opportunity to partner with local and international stakeholders to strengthen the commitment of
ensuring decent work environments built on gender equality, safety, health, inclusion and
holistic empowerment.
Speaking at the formal launch of the event, Minister of Labour and Foreign Employment,
Manusha Nanayakkara extended government support to the initiative stating, “The program is a
significant step in promoting better OSH practices and standards so that the already high
standards of the apparel sector could be further elevated. This will in return sent a strong
message to the key stakeholders of the industry ecosystem about our commitment to the
apparel industry”.
With the onset of the pandemic and the subsequent economic crisis, the apparel industry
implemented an expansive range of initiatives to ensure that the welfare of workers and their
families were a top priority. These included providing additional meals for employees to take
home in order to feed their families, distribution of dry rations, and provision of schoolbooks for
children, free medical facilities and transport and customized food packages for expectant
women. These initiatives were extended to those in the SME sector as well.
The industry encourages plants to implement welfare measures to best suit the requirements of
their workers since as early as June of 2022. Approximately 80% of apparel manufacturers

Press Release
made cost-of-living adjustments to salaries over and above their annual increments. In some
instances, these represent a 25% increase from 2021.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *