Log in to bookmark your favorites and sync them to your phone or calendar.

Human rights due diligence [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

11:40am CET

Labour union perspectives on ways to scale up effective human rights due diligence
Session organized by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)

Brief description of the session:
The ITUC will hold a panel discussion during the 2018 UN Forum on Business and Human Rights on conducting due diligence with respect to freedom of association, and engaging with trade unions in conducting due diligence, including with regard to remedy.
The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) make it clear that the corporate responsibility to respect human rights, at a minimum, covers the rights set forth in the International Bill of Human Rights and the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. These instruments include the rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining, meaning that companies have a responsibility to conduct due diligence to “know and show” that they respect these rights.
In addition, to conducting due diligence on the rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining, companies should engage with trade unions as stakeholders throughout the entire due diligence process. The newly adopted OECD Due Diligence Guidance on Responsible Business Conduct provides practical examples of such engagement, including company-trade union agreements. The OECD guidance also recognises that industrial relations is a form of stakeholder engagement. Moreover, following its most recent update in 2017, the ILO MNE Declaration now highlights the central role of freedom of association and collective bargaining in the due diligence process.
Despite positive developments in the governance framework, in practice the right to freedom of association continues to be misunderstood, and even opposed. Indeed, far from being considered part of due diligence, industrial relations are generally considered as separate, with good practices with respect to due diligence on freedom of association on the one hand, and engagement with trade unions on the other, being rare in the business and human rights discourse.

Session objectives:
Such a panel discussion would therefore be critical in allowing the ITUC to:
  • Raise awareness of the types of actions by companies that may lead to adverse impacts on the right to freedom of association;
  • Identify practical steps that companies can take to conduct due diligence on freedom of association;
  • Discuss effective approaches to meaningful engagement with trade unions, and identify their enabling factors.

Key discussion questions:
  • What practical actions does the new OECD Due Diligence Guidance recommend with regard to conducting due diligence on freedom of association and engaging trade unions in conducting due diligence?
  •  What are the most prevalent abuses of the right to freedom of association in the Korean metal sector?
  •  What are the practical steps that a company should take to conduct effective due diligence on respect for the right of freedom of association?
  •  What does successful company-trade union collaboration look like in practice?

Moderator/ Introductory Remark...
avatar for Makbule Sahan

Makbule Sahan

Legal Director, International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)
Makbule is leading the ITUC’s work on international labour standards and human rights mechanisms, litigation in regional and national courts, business and human rights, labour law and the ITUC Global Rights Index.


Kirstine Drew

Senior Policy Advisor, Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD (TUAC)
OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises
avatar for Peter Rossman

Peter Rossman

Director, Campaigns and Communication, International Union of Food Workers (IUF)

Sunho Tak

Korean Metal Workers’ Union (KMWU)

Wednesday November 28, 2018 11:40am - 1:00pm CET

Filter sessions
Apply filters to sessions.
  • Access to remedy
  • Business action
  • Government action
  • Groups at risk
  • Hot topic
  • Human rights due diligence
  • International standards
  • Policy coherence
  • Sectoral perspectives
  • Stakeholder engagement