The U.S. Department of Labor has awarded a $2 million grant to the International Labor Organization in a bid to improve labor conditions in the Nicaraguan garment sector.

The grant marks an expansion of the Better Work program pioneered in Cambodia ten years ago with the aim of  improving labor conditions in the apparel sector while also helping Cambodian factories become more competitive.


Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis said Oct. 6 that the Bureau of International Labor Affairs grant will be implemented by the ILO.

“Better Work is a highly successful strategy that was first developed in Cambodia 10 years ago,” said Secretary Solis. “Its elements are worth replicating in other countries as a means of protecting workers' rights while promoting development. Nicaragua joins those countries that embrace what is considered a gold standard for the respect of labor rights in the garment sector.”

Better Work is a unique partnership program of the ILO and the International Finance Corp., which seeks to improve labor conditions in global supply chains, both to protect workers' rights and to help enterprises become more competitive. The Better Work program monitors conditions in export factories, publishes the results in a transparent manner, and assists suppliers to comply with labor standards that many buyers and customers demand.

Better Work Nicaragua will focus on labor standards compliance in the country's garment factories. The program will engage the Nicaraguan Ministry of Labor, National Free Trade Commission, factory managers, employer organizations and trade unions, and provide guidance on challenges and solutions to labor compliance in ways that increase the viability of companies. Many multinational brands have expressed support for this project, including Columbia Sportswear, Gap Inc., Fishman & Tobin, Gildan, Levi Strauss & Co., Sears Corp., Target Corp., Walmart and VF Corp.