Business action [clear filter]
Wednesday, November 28

10:00am CET

Engaging and safeguarding workers across value chains: identifying good practice approaches
Interpretation is provided in English, French, Spanish and Korean.

Organized by Ethical Trading Initiative

Brief description
This session would facilitate multi-stakeholder dialogue and lesson-sharing on how to engage with vulnerable workers engaging in precarious work in international supply chains, and how to integrate them into corporate human rights due diligence approaches.
Insights will be provided by:
  • a leading international trade union representative working to support exploited workers and victims of trafficking;
  • a leading multinational company representative who will speak about engaging with migrant workers in the Italian tomato sector;
  • a leading researcher and lawyer specialising in business and human rights; and
  • a multi-stakeholder initiative representative working with companies, trade unions and civil society organisations on mitigating risks in complex international supply chains.

Session objectives
  • Insights into specific approaches to engaging vulnerable workers, adopted by companies, unions, CSOs and researchers.
  • A focus on engaging with vulnerable workers who face specific types of challenges such as payment of recruitment fees and lack of representation.
  • An improved understanding of different techniques of safeguarding; working to ensure that people seeking to enforce their rights (and also their representatives and whistleblowers) are protected from threats of intimidation, harassment and reprisals.

Key discussion questions
  • How should companies work to integrate the rights and needs of vulnerable workers through direct engagment whilst ensuring safeguarding?
  • How can businesses mitigate the rise of vulnerable employment in international supply chains through Human rights due diligence?

Format of the session
  • Audience participants to pose brief questions to speakers at the outset to frame later discussion.
  • Reflections from speakers on their approaches to engagement and safeguarding.
  • Interactive engagement with audience on recommended approaches and identfying blockages to effective HRDD with workers in global value chains.

Background to the discussion
Worldwide, around 1.4 billion workers, most of them women, are in insecure jobs or in the informal sector. Supply chains continue to be one of the most important levers for business to create positive impact in the world, with an estimated 80% of global trade passing through them annually. However, in too many places, workers are denied basic human rights, and migrant workers continue to be exploited.

In the drive to bring ever more products to market, people are often seen merely as a commodity, with wages pushed down to cut costs. A lack of formal, independent worker representation fuels and exacerbates the problem. If workers do not have access to workplace rights and protections within supplier companies, nothing changes.

Companies that commit to genuine and effective human rights due diligence processes can both mitigate risks to worker’s rights, but also significantly improve the lives of workers by providing decent work.

Engagement with workers is an essential part of corporate human rights due diligence. Social dialogue is about establishing formal or informal processes that enable workers and employers to negotiate or consult collectively on issues concerning their rights and responsibilities and to resolve conflicts peacefully and effectively.

A growing number of examples show that effective social dialogue between workers on the ‘shop floor’ and managers can contribute to decent work, quality jobs, greater equality and inclusive growth – all of which benefit workers and companies alike.

This session will explore how businesses, trade unions and other organisations are engaging with vulnerable workers in Italy, Spain, Southern Africa and elsewhere, and how they go about attempting to ensure that people seeking to enforce their rights are protected from threats of intimidation or reprisals.

avatar for Edwin Atema

Edwin Atema

Research and enforcement, FNV - Stichting VNB
avatar for Cindy Berman

Cindy Berman

Head of Modern Slavery Strategy, Ethical Trading Initiative
avatar for David Mcdiarmid

David Mcdiarmid

Corporate Relations Director, Princes Limited
Ethical supply chains in the food industry.Environmental sustainabilityCommunications
avatar for Pia Navazo

Pia Navazo

Researcher, BHR
Human rights impacts un the context of economic operations and global supply chains

Wednesday November 28, 2018 10:00am - 11:20am CET

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