ETI is a key partner in a £6.8m FCDO programme launched today aimed at supporting high street retailers to support vulnerable workers in global supply chains during Covid-19.
The FCDO Vulnerable Supply Chains Facility partners expert organisations with leading UK businesses to improve working conditions and access to healthcare and health information for workers in some of the world’s poorest countries.
This will help make workplaces safer, meaning employees can return to work and supply chains can keep moving and become more resilient.
ETI will be working across two important sectors, garments and agriculture.
The UK imports 20% of its food and drink from developing countries. The Pandemic has severely disrupted supply chains, with factories and farms forced to close and the cancellation of flights affecting exports of goods. The new facility will support the supply of products such as vegetables, coffee and clothes to the UK high street.
ETI will be working closely with Partner Africa and key partners to support the horticulture sector in East Africa, an area which has been particularly hard hit by the Pandemic. A key focus for ETI will be to support vegetable, coffee and flower suppliers in their efforts to ensure business continuity and worker wellbeing during the current COVID-19 pandemic and in the recovery period that will follow.
In Bangladesh, ETI will also be working to raise awareness of Occupational Health and Safety among workers in 20 garment factories in Bangladesh, partnering with brands and other stakeholders through an Expert Support Network to scale and replicate best practice, not only with suppliers in Bangladesh but in similar production markets such as Myanmar.
The long-term outcome of this project will be the establishment of a more resilient garment sector in participating countries that collaborates to increase safe working practices which remain viable during crises such as COVID-19 pandemic.
"Investment in workplace OHS is paramount for responsible business, and safe workplaces play a critical role in keeping workers safe from the virus while also acting as a conduit for cascading information on the crises to inform and raise awareness between workers, their families, and communities," Peter McAllister, ETI.
Peter McAllister, Executive Director at Ethical Trading Initiative, comments:
“ETI welcomes the active role FCDO is playing in supporting vulnerable workers in global supply chains. The East African agricultural workers who supply so much of our food and flowers have been hit hard by COVID-19, and FCDO’s support for this intervention will help protect thousands of jobs, and protect workers from infection as the regional economy begins to recover.
"In addition, investment in workplace OHS is paramount for responsible business, and safe workplaces play a critical role in keeping workers safe from the virus while also acting as a conduit for cascading information on the crises to inform and raise awareness between workers, their families, and communities."
Cathryn Higgs, Head of Policy at Co-op, one of the key partners working with ETI, adds: “People are at the heart of everything we do and now, more than ever, we must support the most vulnerable members of society. We are committed to actively supporting our supply chain from a raft of new challenges they face from the onset of the Covid-19 crisis as set out in our Global Wellbeing Charter.
"We are proud to be supporting FCDO’s Vulnerable Supply Chain Facility and partnering with the Ethical Trading Initiative and the Fairtrade Foundation on projects that will have a positive impact of the lives of many and help build resilient supply chains.”
For further details please contact Hannah Bruce.