The issues behind ethical trade can be complex, and stories about mistreatment of workers may not always be what they seem. That's where ETI comes in. We work at the crossroads between business, civil society and trade unions. So if it's happening in ethical trade, we probably know about it - or know someone who does.
We can help you reveal the reality of workers' lives through case studies and photos, and empower consumers to make ethically informed choices. We can also help unpack the complex issues ethical trade poses for both companies and consumers alike.
Key facts about ETI
ETI is a leading alliance of companies, trade unions and NGOs that promotes respect for workers' rights around the globe. Our vision is a world where all workers are free from exploitation and discrimination, and enjoy conditions of freedom, security and equity.
Our 80+ corporate membership includes companies such as Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's, M&S, Next, New Look, Monsoon, Primark, WH Smith and Zara. They have a combined turnover of over £120 bn. Trade union members represent nearly 160 million workers around the world in every country where free trade unions can operate. Our NGO members range from large international development charities such as Oxfam and CAFOD, to specialised labour rights organisations such as Anti-Slavery International.
Companies that join ETI must adopt the ETI Base Code in full. The ETI Base Code is derived from the standards of the International Labour Organisation, and is an internationally recognised code of labour practice. They must also sign up to our Principles of Implementation, which set out the approaches to ethical trade that member companies should follow.
Member companies must also play an active part in ETI activities alongside their trade union and NGO colleagues, including in members' meetings, projects and working groups.
An independent assessment of ETI members' ethical trade activities carried out by Sussex-based Institute of Development Studies found that improvements have been made in health and safety, reducing child labour, increasing wages and reducing the incidence of excessive overtime.
ETI's key achievements
ETI was established in 1998 to improve the lives of workers in global supply chains.
Since our inception, we have:
- built a critical mass of companies. From a handful of pioneers, our membership now includes more than 70 companies, collectively reaching more than 9.8 million workers across the globe. The progress of each corporate member is independently evaluated every year against robust performance benchmarks.
- pioneered groundbreaking training solutions. So far over 140 companies and other organisations have benefited from ETI's ethical trade training, ranging from a basic introduction to ethical trade for beginners to tailored courses for company buying staff. Our groundbreaking Supevisor Training Programme, which tackles the highly sensitive issues of sexual harassment and discrimination, is also being rolled out widely.
- empowered workers to speak up for themselves. For example in China, after overseeing the training of more than 3,000 workers, union reps and supervisors as well as 122 factory managers, we have helped create models for worker-management dialogue.
- reached vulnerable workers. For example in India, we helped establish a national multistakeholder group focusing on raising the conditions of homeworkers. It is already helping change the lives of more than 40,000 homeworkers in Uttar Pradesh by educating them about their rights and helping increase their incomes.
- lobbied governments to improve legal protection for workers. For example, in the UK we led a cross-industry alliance that successfully lobbied the government to introduce extra legal protection for up to 600,000 migrant workers in the UK food industry. The resulting Gangmaster (Licensing) Act came into force in 2006.
- supported members to develop cutting edge solutions. In Bangladesh, for example, member companies are pioneering ways of increasing wages through efficiency savings, reporting wage increases of up to 55%.
- brokered resolutions in the workplace. In factories in Bangladesh, Turkey, Cambodia and elsewhere we have brought suppliers, trade unions, workers and member companies to the negotiating table to resolve major breaches of trade union rights.
- supported bottom-up change. For example, we helped establish The Wine and Agricultural Ethical Trade Association (WIETA) in South Africa, which was the first ever local multi-stakeholder initiative to tackle workers' conditions.