The focus on productivity: A workers point of view

ILO’s SIRAYE programme on Advancing Decent Work and Inclusive Industrialization launched its productivity and quality intervention pilot led by the Sustaining Competitive and Responsible Enterprises (SCORE) Programme. The intervention was a four month pilot programme aimed at improving productivity and working conditions in small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

News | 17 December 2019
Ethiopia’s textile and apparel sector is poised for rapid growth and presents a significant opportunity for job creation. However, the sector faces challenges related to high labour turnover and absenteeism, low product quality, and high cycle of production.
Recognizing the need for improved productivity, quality and better working condition in the garment sector, the comprehensive and coordinated SIRAYE programme on Advancing Decent Work and Inclusive Industrialization launched its productivity and quality intervention led by the Sustaining Competitive and Responsible Enterprises (SCORE) Programme on June 2019.

Training of Enterprise Trainers
The SCORE programme implemented the pilot intervention from June – September 2019 in four garment-manufacturing enterprises (two domestic and two Foreign Direct Investment) in Addis Ababa. The intervention combined practical classroom training with in-factory advisory visit focusing on productivity improvement, quality management, lean production and flow efficiency workstation design and line balancing.

The training was an eye opener for me - take the 5s concept for example. It clearly outlines what to do, why things happen, how to avoid defect and how this ultimately reduces stress to the worker in relation to productivity."

A welfare manager at one of the pilot factory highlighted.
Many of the workers in the garment and textile industry come from a rural area and have limited education and often have difficulty understanding any language other than their native language. In addition, communication and inter-personal relations at the workplace between expats and locals and among locals as well plays a significant role in contributing to low productive and quality as well as workers job satisfaction. Understanding the importance of country context, training materials are customized in to the local situations and trainings are provided in the local languages. In addition, communication and workplace cooperation were mainstreamed in all the training modules which empowered workers and managers to work hand in hand for continuous improvement.

When they first announced the SCORE training, I was not enthusiastic. I thought ‘ok, this is going to be one of the training from these people (expats)’. But when I found out the trainers were Ethiopian and the training was going to be given in Amharic, I was excited."

A factory worker explains.
The pilot phase has been completed successfully with tangible enterprise improvement results. The results were disseminated during the learning event hosted by ILO on December 11, 2019. The participants of the learning event constituted pilot enterprises, potential intervention enterprises, global brands, workers and development partners.

Member of PICC demonstrates training result to stakeholders
The feedback obtained during the pilot phase confirmed that the SCORE interventions were instrumental in improving labour productivity, increasing production, reducing product defects and rejection and reduction in worker absenteeism and improvement in workplace cooperation between management and workers.

Having no established system to increase productivity and efficiency was a major problem in our factory. Everything you do becomes a waste if it is not systematized. The SCORE intervention gave me hope that things can change. Establishing PICC committee (productivity improvement consultative committee) was also instrumental in identifying our problem, coming up with collective solutions."

An industrial engineer in one of the factory emphasized.
However, workers repeatedly expressed the need for increased productivity to lead to better compensation and salary.

Factories need to sustain its staff though better compensation because we are always looking for something better and this is a competitive sector."

A factory worker explained.
Following this 4 month intervention period, the ILO SIRAYE programme plans to scale up the SCORE intervention to a minimum of 16 enterprises in different part of the country by end of 2020. Additional national trainers will be recruited and trained to provide training and advisory services to the selected enterprises.