ETI’s work on human rights due diligence

ETI is playing a leading role in the application of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) in the area of workers’ rights. 

New advanced training course: Human rights due diligence

In line with the commitments set out in the first pillar of our new strategy, Perspective 2020, ETI and its member organisations are in the process of developing practical methodologies for the application of the ‘Protect, Respect and Remedy’ framework and the UNGP’s, with the goal of better protecting workers’ rights in global supply chains. This is being applied through a number of collaborative programmes and due diligence pilot projects. The process of due diligence is a critical cornerstone to the implementation of the UNGPs.

ETI has substantial experience in working along supply chains and will further develop this by facilitating and disseminating a credible process of human rights due diligence in members’ supply chains which goes beyond typical auditing programmes. Due to its tri-partite structure, ETI is well placed to ensure that due diligence processes are inclusive, incorporate a range of different perspectives, and will help ensure respect for workers’ rights by addressing underlying causes that contribute to violations.

ETI is supporting member companies and their supply chain partners in integrating UNGP-based due diligence processes into their business models and sourcing and purchasing practices, and assessing and documenting these processes.

ETI Human rights due diligence framework

In June 2016, ETI published its new Human Rights Due Diligence Framework. This document serves as a guide for companies to help manage and mitigate labour rights risks, and understand why engagement, negotiation and collaboration is the best way to succeed. It was developed through a collaborative approach with senior representatives of ETI’s tripartite membership group which includes trade unions, companies and NGO’s, and is closely aligned to ETI’s Base Code and Principles of Implementation, the UNGP’s, the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, Shift’s UNGP Reporting Framework and other relevant human rights standards and guidelines.

The Framework has been designed to set out a practical approach to conducting human rights due diligence with a focus on labour rights. Download the Framework here

ETI Due diligence pilot projects

Pakistan human rights due diligence pilot

In September 2017, ETI signed a Strategic Partnership Agreement with the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education & Research (PILER), to promote collaboration around ethical trade and human rights due diligence in Pakistan. PILER, who are based in Karachi and who work across the country, have a reputation as a leading, independent labour rights research and training center. The initial Agreement runs until March 2019. The broad objectives of the Partnership are to:

  • Improve knowledge and understanding amongst relevant stakeholders in Pakistan of the UN Guiding Principles on business and Human Rights (UNGPs), ethical trade and human rights due diligence.
  • Create a more enabling environment whereby practical challenges to the protection of labour rights are discussed and addressed collaboratively in multi-stakeholder forums.
  • Gather and share evidence on the practical application of good human rights due diligence and ethical trading practices.
  • Provide opportunities for international brands to engage with local stakeholders in Pakistan. 

ETI has produced a new briefing note, Human rights due diligence in Pakistan. This sets out the current context in Pakistan with regards to key labour rights issues and the landscape for addressing these in relation to the UNGPs.

Turkish business and human rights platform

There remain a number of challenging, ongoing business and human rights issues for the Turkish labour market: wage levels remain low despite recent increases, poor labour standards; informal and unregulated working arrangements; harassment of women workers and gender discrimination; inadequate union representation and challenges to the right to Freedom of Association. These issues are being exacerbated by the Syrian refugee crisis; there are huge challenges with the integration of refugee/migrant workers with the domestic labour force and the rights of the most vulnerable groups and of persons belonging to minorities are not sufficiently upheld.

ETI has secured funding for an 18-month programme through the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office. This project will provide support to establish a long-term Business and Human Rights Platform in the country. In line with the UNGPs, the platform shall: 

  • allow businesses, employers, suppliers and trade unions to work together to build awareness of and capacity to promote business and human rights; 
  • engage local stakeholders in workplace social dialogue to promote improved employment conditions, protect workers’ rights and resolve conflicts; 
  • develop policies and approaches to effective grievance redressal. 

The programme aims to enhance business competence and capacity, bolstering the sector’s ability to tackle human rights issues, at the same time providing examples for wider application across other sectors, such as food and farming. ETI has contracted Verite to undertake the work to “Adapt ETI’s Human Rights Due Diligence Framework for Apparel & Textiles in Turkey”. They will be working on this in collaboration with the ETI programme team and members until November 2016. 

Spanish due diligence pilot project on agricultural supply chains

Whilst the majority of suppliers in southern Spain enjoy good reputations, working conditions have been subject to ongoing scrutiny from domestic as well as UK media. Many of the workers employed in the agricultural sector are migrants, some of whom are known to work on an informal basis. Serious concerns have been raised about the working conditions experienced by groups of migrant workers employed by labour contractors.

This ETI human rights due diligence pilot project, launched in August 2016 with a group of ETI members, aims to enhance business competence and capacity in Spain and in the UK in tackling salient human rights risks, at the same time providing examples for wider application across other sectors and in other countries. The pilot will focus primarily on the provinces of Murcia, Almeria and Seville which are key sourcing destinations for UK supermarket brands.