To improve working conditions for those working in the export sandstone sector of Rajasthan, India. We are working with key stakeholders to establish a joint programme of action, focused on the priorities of workers and challenges faced by the industry in accordance with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs).
The state of Rajasthan is one of India’s largest producers of sandstone. Whilst the majority of this stone stays within India’s domestic market, around 280,000 tonnes is shipped each year to the UK alone, ending up in driveways, patios and pavements. Recent reports have shone a spotlight on working conditions within this sector, with allegations of enforced and bonded labour in some quarries, as well as suggestions of breaches of other international labour standards. Other workers’ rights issues include limited access to social security systems and a limited application of international health and safety standards.
We have been working with partners, including companies, NGOs, trade unions and local industry players, to better understand the labour conditions in Rajasthan’s export sandstone sector and find sustainable solutions for improvement. We have identified a real need to raise awareness of international labour rights standards amongst local stakeholders, as a first step towards driving long-lasting change for workers.
ETI has worked closely with local stakeholders on the ground to build a sustainable model and framework that can help this sector address core labour rights issues. This has been done by establishing a local multi-stakeholder forum, The State Forum on Natural Stone, which to date has engaged government bodies and others on a range of issues including worker health, safety and welfare – particularly the prevalence of silicosis across the sector, formalisation of labour, worker needs and priorities, amongst other points.
We have helped to build the capacity of business to address elements of the ETI Base Code, by developing an Ethical Sourcing Guide and toolkit for the sector, which can be found here along with other resources. We strongly encourage an environment of cross learning between business-business and among business and civil society organisations to build trust and work collaboratively.
The last two years of the programme has been funded under the FCO Human Rights and Democracy Fund. The programme will continue to focus on improving working conditions in the first tier factories and quarries in the supply chain, improve workers access to services and maturing employment management systems.
This programme is open to companies, importers, exporters and contactors that commercially deal with sandstone from Rajasthan, as well as other trade union and not-for-profit organisations working with Indian workers.
Trade union representation
The programme currently has UK-based trade union representation, and we are in discussion with colleagues in India.
Dalit Solidarity Network (UK)
Hannah Bruce, Hard Goods and Household Category Programme Leader, email: firstname.lastname@example.org