Implementation of Social Standards in the Textile and Garment Industry in Punjab

Project description

Title: Implementation of Social Standards Support Programme to the Textile and Garment Industry in Punjab
Commissioned by: German Federal Foreign Office (AA)
Country: Pakistan
Lead executing agency: The Labour and Human Resource Department, Government of Punjab
Overall term: 2014 to 2016


The textile and garment sector is Pakistan’s biggest industry and makes up the backbone of economy. It accounts for 54 per cent of the country’s overall exports and employs 38 per cent of the industrial workforce. Even though it is the most important branch of the manufacturing sector, working conditions in the industry remain challenging. They are marked by poor workplace safety, low wages, a lack of dialogue between employers and the workforce and a lack of co-determination.

Pakistan has been granted enhanced access to the European market under the European Union’s preferential trade scheme, the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) Plus, which offers full removal of tariffs to countries exporting goods to the EU. This is a special arrangement intended to support sustainable development and good governance in least developed countries. To be eligible for GSP Plus status, countries must ratify and implement core labour rights and other sustainable development and good governance conventions. Pakistan has ratified the conventions but is not yet doing enough to enforce them within the country. Tangible steps towards their implementation are a prerequisite for maintaining GSP Plus status.


State and private-sector actors in the textile and garment industry in Punjab are implementing the International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions, as ratified in the context of GSP Plus. Approaches have been developed to ensure greater compliance with labour standards in this industry as a requirement of GSP Plus. These approaches are being pursued with the active involvement and cooperation of national-level stakeholders.


The project works in the following areas to support the Government of Punjab in effecting change:

  • Setting up an appropriate platform for tripartite dialogue and suitable structures for cooperation between governmental actors, business associations and workers’ unions. This should promote the collective development of approaches enhancing the implementation of labour standards.
  • Supporting joint pilot activities to promote the implementation of labour standards, for example through the development of concepts to improve labour inspection regimes, or to enhance gender equality
  • Developing tailor-made learning, exchange and networking solutions to foster the sharing of knowledge
  • Improving working conditions and increasing productivity in selected factories, using of a dialogue-based approach.

As well as pilot projects and dialogue workshops, the project measures include information events, training programmes and advisory services. Other international actors and initiatives are closely involved, such as the Pakistan Garment & Textiles Buyers’ Forum, which was formed by ILO and the Dutch Embassy. GIZ supports the processes and provides assistance for the pilot measures agreed with the partner institutions. It supplies the requisite know-how, offers capacity development measures and provides resources for implementing the initial activities.


Relevant state, civil society and private sector actors, including some from outside Punjab, came together for two initial dialogue events at which they discussed the improvement of social standards. The participants developed a roadmap for the dialogue platform, set up a steering committee and defined modes of cooperation. Furthermore, they systematically explored the various ongoing initiatives in the field, in order to identify opportunities for cooperation. Baseline figures have been prepared, against which to measure key performance indicators of productivity and social compliance.