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Last Updated: 2019.09.04

Fast Retailing Partners with International Labour Organization for Social Protection and Improved Environments for Asian Workers

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Fast Retailing today announces plans to partner with the International Labour Organization (ILO), the UN's specialized agency promoting decent work for all, to improve social security systems and worker environments in Asia.

Under the partnership, the ILO will conduct a comparative analysis of the labor markets and employment security environments of the worker economies of Asia where Fast Retailing has production bases - Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Myanmar and Vietnam, with a view to furthering policy dialogue throughout the region.

Commencing in September 2019, Fast Retailing will provide US$1.8 million in funding over a two-year period (2019-2021). The funds will be invested in ILO research on labor markets and social security systems in Asian countries, as well as promoting employment insurance in Indonesia and strengthening worker support mechanisms during periods of unemployment. This is the largest privately-funded project in the history of ILO-led social security initiatives.

Tadashi Yanai, Chairman, President and CEO of Fast Retailing, explained the project's significance. "Asia is the engine for global business growth. To realize sustainable growth in Asia, it is important to ensure decent working environments and to uphold the rights of workers around the region. We have a large and growing network of retail stores in Asia, and workers here make a significant contribution to our business through a network of independent manufacturing partners. To date, we have been working to protect people in our supply chain through a combination of our own initiatives and by partnering with industry and NGO stakeholders. Through the ILO partnership, we hope to expand our impact and find solutions to issues faced by all workers in Asia - not just those in our supply chain - through systemic social protection measures and improved working environments across the region."

Asia's workers, especially garment-manufacturing workers, are at high risk of job displacement due to the rapidly-shifting employment needs of the region's evolving economies. However, existing social protection schemes and labor market policies in the area often do not fully protect workers from risks of unemployment or from risk of hardship associated with protracted unemployment. Indonesian workers are among those most at risk, so the project will commence in Indonesia and will be managed by the ILO's Indonesia office.

In the first hybrid project of its kind - combining social protection and practical re-employment measures - the ILO will engage government agencies, workers' associations and employer organizations in Indonesia to secure a number of key objectives:

  • ensure a minimum income and prevent unemployed workers and their families from falling into poverty;
  • facilitate a return to employment as soon as possible through employment services;
  • upgrade skills and capabilities for better employability in a changing labor market.

"This project will combine social protection with industry-led training and jobs services to mitigate the impact of economic restructuring and labour reforms on workers," said Michiko Miyamoto, ILO Country Director for Indonesia, emphasizing the importance of an integrated approach to address unemployment and working poverty and social inclusion in Asia.

As the economic structure changes, female workers, who are over-represented in garment factories, are particularly at risk of falling into poverty. "One of the positive outcomes of this project is that it will help women shift sectors, acquire new skills or develop their own business, particularly considering studies show women spend more on their family's welfare and education for children," added Miyamoto.

"Strengthening social protection of workers is a priority of the government. This project is timely because the national tripartite council (LKS tripnas) requested ILO's technical assistance on social protection reform. Technical inputs from the project will assist the evidence-based discussion and decision-making by the Council," says Haiyani Rumondang, Director General for Industrial Relations and Social Security of the Ministry of Manpower, Indonesia.


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