As a follow up of Nobel laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus a preparatory conference was held in Berlin on August 29, 2013 at the Humboldt-Viadrina School of Governance on addressing the issues raised in Bangladesh after the Rana Plaza tragedy. Conference was convened by Yunus Centre and the Humboldt-Viadrina School of Governance to organize a global conference to launch Garment Industry Transparency Initiative (GITI) at the suggestion of Professor Yunus in the backdrop of Rana Plaza tragedy. Professor Peter Eigen, founder of transparency international, responded positively to the suggestion made by Professor Yunus and took steps to create GITI, following the example of Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI). This approach is set out as a joint approach of Governments, factory owners, labor, and the retailing companies, and the civil society in both producing and consuming countries. It will find an agreement among the involved parties with regard to comprehensive standards on labor conditions. GITI does not intend want to compete with other initiatives, but rather support these and complement their actions. Founding of GITI is being carried out jointly by Yunus Centre in Dhaka, and the Humboldt-VIADRINA School of Governance in Berlin.
Preparatory conference in Berlin was attended by 135 representatives from Government, NGOs, garment industries, labor associations, academics, and other.
Conference started with a keynote speech from Professor Yunus. He highlighted the major issues relating to garment industry and proposed a comprehensive global initiative to solve these problems across all garment producing countries. Among other things he proposed an international minimum wage for garment workers worked out for each country separately. This wage, he proposed should be accepted as a compliance issue, and should not be a subject of any price negotiation. International buyers will accept this as part of production cost and make sure price negotiation should not impact on this wage in any country. He also elaborated his idea of creating social businesses to offer “Happy Workers Tags” at an additional cost of minimum of 10 percent on top of the production cost. This money will be used by social businesses to deliver important social and health services for a specific period, to the specific group of workers who were involved in producing those garments.
Following Professor Yunus’s presentation, officials ILO (International Labor Organization), FEMNET (Feminist Perspectives on Business, Politics and Society), the German Federal Foreign Office, Otto Group spoke on the idea of creating GITI, and the additionally it may bring in resolving the problems existing in the industry.
The preparatory conference ended with by creating a six members Steering Committee co-chaired by Professor Muhammad Yunus and Professor Peter Eigen.
It was decided to convene a formal launching event in Berlin on October 14 this year which will give officials from Governments, international organizations, business sector, labor organizations, and civil society the opportunity to discuss the scope and lines of action of GITI in detail.
Professor Yunus later met the Mr. dirk Schattschneider, Director General of Policy Planning and communications, Federal ministry of Economic Cooperation and development, met Ms Conelia Fullkug-Weitel Ma, leading member of SPD who specializes on international cooperation issues, and addressed the NGO leaders of Germany, staff of Transparency International at its head quarters.