The Alliance is committed to providing factory workers with the opportunity to voice safety concerns so that they can be heard and acted upon in a timely manner. The Alliance Worker Helpline—Amader Kotha (“Our Voice”) in Bangla—provides workers with a reliable 3rd-party reporting channel that will allow them to raise safety concerns anonymously. The Helpline was first piloted and launched in July 2014, and has received thousands of calls from workers.
How the Helpline Works
The Alliance Worker Helpline is a new, innovative approach to workplace problem solving that enhances communication between factories and workers in the Bangladesh Ready-Made Garments sector. Features of how the Helpline is implemented are outlined below:
- Learn: Workers are introduced to the Helpline as part of the Basic Fire Safety Training (required of all factories). During this training, the Helpline is presented as one of the communication channels that workers can use to report safety concerns, a demonstration call is made, and workers are given Helpline cards (with the number) so that they can call the Helpline on their own.
- Call: Workers use mobile phones to report safety and other concerns to Amader Kotha—where they can reach trained Helpline staff 24/7 through a toll-free number. The Helpline staff collect key information from the caller (including whether they want their identity to be disclosed), so that they can determine how to route the call.
- Validate & Resolve: Helpline staff share the information received from callers with designated factory managers, which allows factories the opportunity to respond to issues immediately. Serious safety concerns are shared with Alliance technical experts, who investigate and ensure resolution of the issue. In the event that action is necessary, factories respond to the issues raised by workers.
- Report back: Helpline staff close the loop by reporting management’s response and/or action taken back to the original caller.
- Assess & Refresh: Interactive Voice Response (IVR) surveys are used to assess workers’ satisfaction and Helpline usage patterns, and to identify opportunities to improve awareness and implementation of the Helpline.
The result is a communication channel that improves factories’ awareness of safety issues and worker concerns, draws attention to opportunities to improve internal communication, and can increase confidence among workers in management’s commitment to hearing and responding to their concerns.
The Alliance is working with the following organizations to implement the worker helpline:
Clear Voice promotes effective grievance mechanisms and creates worker hotlines in supply chains. Clear Voice bridges the business need for pragmatic, real-world solutions and the obligations of companies defined by the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Clear Voice is currently supporting projects in East Asia, South Asia, Latin America and the United States. Clear Voice is a project of The Cahn Group, LLC, a leading corporate responsibility consultancy. Find out more at www.thecahngroup.com
Phulki is one the oldest and most highly respected NGO’s working in the Ready Made Garment sector in Bangladesh. Beginning with its groundbreaking work with factory managers to establish day care facilities for the children of working women, Phulki continues to promote the betterment of women in numerous ways through training, assessments and the implementation of innovative programs. The organization has years of experience supporting the efforts of international brands to establish and operate communication systems and problem solving mechanisms in factories. Find out more at www.phulki.org
Laborlink by ELEVATE is the industry leader in mobile worker engagement technology. Simply with a mobile phone, Laborlink establishes a two-way communication channel for workers to share their anonymous viewpoints in real-time, and for companies to receive unfiltered data directly from workers. This scalable approach of worker engagement enables companies to drive improvements and have greater visibility into their global supply chains. Find out more at www.mylaborlink.org and www.elevatelimited.com.
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