Four major civil society groups released a model dispute resolution system, focused on model arbitration clauses, for disputes on labor standards in supply-chain operations. The Clean Clothes Campaign, Global Labor Justice, International Labor Rights Forum, and Worker Rights Consortium issued their Model Arbitration Clauses for the Resolution of Disputes under Enforceable Brand Agreements to make firms’ agreements with unions and other worker advocates binding and enforceable.
With the seismic shocks to economic security and public health caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic, enforceable brand agreements are an important avenue for maintaining ongoing employment, and transforming the economy through structural change for redistribution in supply chains. Witness the millions of apparel workers laid off due to global brands’ cancelled orders and left with no savings or social protection.
Drafted by a team of international labor and human rights arbitration experts, the model clauses respond to experiences under the Bangladesh Accord, an agreement on fire and building safety in garment-producing workplaces in that country that followed the horrific 2013 collapse of the Rana Plaza factory, which killed more than 1,100 workers and left hundreds more permanently injured.
The Accord is one of several initiatives pioneering a surge in enforceable brand agreements. They represent a growing trend in new standards for transparent and enforceable corporate accountability agreements between global brands and unions. The Model Arbitration Clauses provide a template for more cost-effective dispute resolution approaches that can be included in these agreements, saving time and resources for employers and unions alike.
Designed for direct incorporation into enforceable brand agreements, the Model Arbitration Clauses for the Resolution of Disputes under Enforceable Brand Agreements, advance a streamlined arbitration system with a rapid timeline that protects impartiality and due process while avoiding excessive litigiousness, promoting transparency, alleviating burdensome costs, and providing final and binding enforcement. Led by international law and labor law scholars, Lance Compa and Katerina Yiannibas, the Clauses draw from leading international arbitration rules and existing supply-chain agreements negotiated by trade unions, labor rights NGOs and brands.