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7 April 2021
Germany: slow start to coronavirus testing in companies causing controversy
In line with a decision by Germany’s Federal Government and its various Länders on 03 March 2021, companies are being called on to offer free weekly (at least) Covid rapid antigen tests to employees who are physically present at their place of work. These company screening campaigns are a core element of Germany’s national strategy to combat a third wave in the coronavirus. March 2021 was also the month that saw the country’s major employers’ associations (BDA, BDI, DIHK, and ZDH) call on...
2 April 2021
UNI Global Union and group of investors join forces to pressure nursing home operators to improve working conditions
UNI Global Union, the international union federation for the services sectors, and a group of large investors – asset managers and 70 pension funds looking after $3.34 trillion of assets combined – sensitive to the topic of socially-responsible investment have teamed up to put pressure on businesses operating at retirement and nursing homes (for example, Orpea, Chartwell and Sienna Senior Living) to commit to improving the working conditions for their staff.
17 March 2021
Myanmar: call to textile companies for action in the face of repression on workers opposing the military coup
Six weeks after Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi was overthrown by the military, opposition to the coup is not weakening, in spite of increasingly harsh repressive action, which, according to the UN, has resulted in 149 deaths and hundreds of missing persons. Local textile industry subcontractors are accused of siding with the military backed powers and firing factory workers who are mobilizing in protest against the coup. Textile industry multinationals, which make massive recourse to garment...
12 March 2021
United Kingdom: companies invited to submit their annual modern slavery statement to a central website
On 11 March, the UK government unveiled an online registry where companies can file their annual modern slavery statement, if they so wish. As a reminder, since 2015, commercial organisations with an annual turnover of more than £36 million (€42.03 million) have been required to publish an annual report setting out the action they are taking to combat modern slavery, forced labour and human trafficking. However, until now, publishing of the annual statement has been limited to companies’ own website (see...
11 March 2021
EU: MEPs advance on a future EU Directive on human rights related corporate due diligence
On 10 March the European Parliament adopted its draft report containing recommendations to the European Commission on corporate due diligence and accountabilit. The text marginally modifies the European Parliament Committee on Legal Affairs’s initial version published in January 2021, and, in spite of opposition pressure, has chosen to maintain stock market listed and high-risk SMEs within its scope (for our report on its adoption c.f. article No.12339). This latest report should inform the legislative proposal...
3 March 2021
Germany: government adopts draft legislation on corporate due diligence in supply chains
Initially unveiled on 12 February 2021 by the three Federal Ministers for Employment, Cooperation and the Economy (c.f. article No.12360), Germany’s bill on due diligence in supply chains was adopted by the Council of Ministers on 03 March, about three weeks earlier than expected. This law will require companies headquartered in Germany to ensure that human rights (including ILO fundamental conventions) are respected along their supply chains. Companies will have to apply higher standards to their direct...
18 February 2021
United States: lawsuit filed against chocolate manufacturers for forced child labor
The International Rights Advocates (IRA), a human rights firm, has filed a lawsuit in Washington DC against major chocolate internationals Nestlé, Cargill, Barry Callebaut, Mars, Olam, Hershey and Mondelēz, following allegations concerning 8 young Malians who say they were forced to work on cocoa plantations in Côte d’Ivoire when they were children (the events took place between 2000 and 2010).
15 February 2021
Germany: governing coalition to propose law on supply chain due diligence by end of March 2021
On Friday 12 February, Germany’s economy, labour and cooperation minsters reached an agreement on the major points of a new ‘supply chain law’, which will increase the due diligence obligations of German companies when it comes to human rights and environmental issues at foreign subcontractors and suppliers. The legislation will apply to companies that employ at least 3,000 staff from 2023 and to firms with more than 1,000 staff from 2024. The text is due to be presented to the cabinet at the end of March,...
22 January 2021
Human rights: governments and NGOs up pressure on companies to prevent exploitation of Uighurs
As evidence of the enslavement of hundreds of thousands of Uighurs accumulates, with members of the population deported from their homes and often locked up in huge labour camps, there is a growing movement to prevent the exploitation of their forced labour. Civil society, led by an international coalition of NGOs, is putting pressure on companies to avoid using the labour of this Muslim population in Xinjiang in their value chain. This media-led pressure is being further compounded by trade measures adopted by...
30 November 2020
Switzerland: responsible business initiative fails to garner sufficient support
In a vote held on Sunday 29 November, a popular initiative in Switzerland that seeks to hold large companies in the country accountable for the actions of their affiliates and suppliers abroad failed to achieve a majority among Swiss cantons, with only 8.5 votes in favour out of 23, despite achieving a slim majority of 50.7% in the popular vote. As a result, a compromise law that is far less restrictive will be voted on. Many believe nonetheless that the result of the popular vote places a certain amount of...