With cost considerations so important in the global apparel market, will CSR issues adequately raise demand to offset cost issues?
2. Is enough being done to publicize certification among buyers?
Benefits from Workplace Certification: Yeşim Tekstil (Turkey)
The following summary of the experience of Yeşim with SA8000 is based on a presentation to the 10th Anniversary Conference of Social Accountability International in New York City by Yasemin Basar, Director of HR and Industrial Relations, and on the Yeşim website.
THE COMPANY: YESIM TEKSTIL
Yeşim Tekstil started in 1983 as manufacturer of tablecloths, sheets and similar home linens. Its operations today employ nearly 5,000 people in a 240,000 square meter facility and its line has expanded to include 150,000 pieces of ready-to-wear clothing as well as 100,000 pieces of home textiles.
Yeşim’s products are 75 percent cotton and the rest polyester and blends, in three units, Yeşim 1-3. Its state-of-the-art knitting, printing dyeing, plain dyeing and fabric treatment processes are part of a highly automated, fully vertically integrated manufacturing complex.
Yeşim supplies world-famous brands and is also one of the few accredited members in Turkey of Du Pont Clothing and Textiles Sciences, which develops new approaches to the world of fashion and emphasizes outstanding quality and customer service.
STATUS PRIOR TO CERTIFICATION
Yesim was already strong in certain areas prior to certification:
-It already exercised the fundamental right of Freedom of Association and had a Certification Body trade union.
-They were paying a living wage.
-There was no double booking of orders.
-They had the strong support of the CEO for improving workplace conditions.
-The company had no reported worker rights violations.
Possible Benefits and Challenges in Obtaining Certification
-A third-party driven social compliance plan.
-A systematic approach to responsible and sustainable business practices relating to subcontractors.
-A credible reference for customers concerned with workplace issues, proper recognition of Yesim’s achievement and therefore new orders.
-Introduction of a management system that would be helpful as a business tool.
-Training of individuals in the company to be available to work on CSR issues.
Costs of Compliance of Concern to Yesim
-Possible delays in achieving certification, delays in business operations and resulting dissatisfaction among new customers.
-Overtime limits might mean loss of flexibility, higher costs and possible inability to meet customer needs without becoming noncompliant.
-The monitoring system to control overtime on a daily basis with a yearly limit of 270 hours per year per worker was viewed as costly.
-Meeting customer needs through shifting burdens to subcontractors was a danger, and a monitoring system to observe their practices was viewed as challenging abd possibly costly.
Compliance Was Speedy
There were no delays. The findings of certification audits and follow-up audits were monitored by Yesim’s own management system and the expected benefits were achieved.
Factory proposed for certification at first audit (no major nonconformances).
Company Awareness of Workplace Issues Was Raised
Awareness of the program was raised at the managerial level and at the worker level, with vocational training and an effective compliance and environmental health and safety committee, as well as ample NGO engagement.
Measurable Achievement (Overtime Limit): 2006: Just four out of 2500 employees exceeded yearly limit of 270 hours.
2007 (end of September): Only one employee exceeded yearly limit.
Grievance System Was Improved
Greater coordination with trade union representatives through periodic meetings. Concerns raised during trainings or site audits were addressed.
Measurable Achievement: Communication and training were initiated for a new grievance system.
Feedback that its details were effectively conveyed and it is functioning.
New Programs Were Created for Environmental Health and Safety
Concerning environmental health and safety, Yesim determined that as part of their social compliance program, there should be ongoing training and monitoring, internal audits, as well as a corrective action request system. The company is now undertaking:
- AKUT Research and Rescue – emergency preparedness project.
- Ergonomic studies.
- Revised personal protective equipment (PPE) selection system.
- Detailed risk analysis.
Measurable achievement: 1. 37% decrease in total lost time due to incidents. 2.Lost days fell from 652 days to 414 days (238 days gained).