A group of investors and stakeholders from more than 115 organizations have banded together under the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility to ask global shippers to ensure the safety and welfare of their workers and to ferret out supply chain abuses.
The group has called on shippers around the world to implement International Labor Organization standards at all their facilities and to pay attention to the United Nation’s framework on human rights responsibilities in business.
Companies, the organization said, should join the Accord on Fire and Building Safety, strengthen local trade unions, publicly disclose all their suppliers and put worker grievance mechanisms in place.
Most of these problems issue from the current global business model and just-in-time supply chain, which encourages lax oversight and corruption, the letter said.
“Local governments can turn a blind eye to audit irregularities in an attempt to attract investment to their struggling economies,” the organization stated. “Global companies have seen their valuable brands put at risk by a shell game that makes oversight near-impossible, as local suppliers move manufacturing to unsafe factories without their clients’ knowledge.”
The organization made its request in the aftermath of a number of recent factory collapses and fires in Bangladesh. The May 8 fire in Dhaka sweater factory, a factory collapse in April and the November fire in a Tzareen factory have caused more than 1,500 deaths and 1,000 injuries, the agency alleged. These deaths were caused due to what the organization called, in a letter, “the failure of the global companies that manufacture and source their products there to ensure humane working conditions.”
“The horrific loss of life in Bangladesh serves to once again highlight the difficulties in building accountability into global supply chains,” the organization continued. “As investors, we also bear responsibility to enhance the power of the private sector to effect positive change by engaging companies to ensure that human rights remain at the core of their business models.” - Jon Ross