The 2016 International Labour Conference begins today in Geneva and will lead to discussions of “decent work” in supply chains…
According to Human Rights Watch director, Juliane Kippenberg, “Millions of people around the world suffer human rights abuses because of businesses’ poor practices and lax government regulation. Legally binding rules are the only realistic way to ensure that companies don’t exploit workers or contribute to labor abuses.”
The 21-page report, “Human Rights in Supply Chains: A Call for a Binding Global Standard on Due Diligence,” draws upon two decades of Human Rights Watch research on child labor and other labor rights abuses, environmental damage, and violations of the rights to health, land, food, and water, in the context of global supply chains. The report highlights a wide range of human rights violations in the context of global supply chains, such as labor rights abuses and anti-union tactics against factory workers producing branded apparel and footwear for consumers worldwide, hazardous child labor in farms growing tobacco purchased by international cigarette manufacturers, severe labor rights abuses against migrant workers in the construction sector, and deadly accidents killing artisanal miners digging gold that is destined for the global market.
It is reported that 450 million people are currently working globally in supply chains. Companies depend on complex chains of suppliers that span multiple countries to source their goods and services. Human Rights Watch has revealed that governments don’t always carry out their due diligence when it comes to protecting the human rights of workers. This is an issue both locally and abroad. This article contends that delegates at the Conference should push for a convention that assures requirements and safeguards for all workers.
Companies must bare that responsibility. Due diligence through law leads to more positive action. Kippenberg continued, “Voluntary standards on human rights and business are not enough. Some companies embrace them, but others don’t care and ignore their human rights responsibilities. The International Labour Conference is a unique opportunity to change this ineffective laissez-faire system.”