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9 July 2020
CSR: Covid-19 outbreaks in the heart of the EU have uncovered working conditions that are sometimes akin to modern-day slavery
The coronavirus has acted as a messenger. After an entire meat slaughtering sector was stigmatized in Germany, the hot seat of shame has been passed to the British online clothing company Boohoo, accused of using quasi-slavery suppliers and  of contributing to the spread of Covid-19. Both cases have sparked strong reactions. In Germany, measures have been taken to combat the precarious situation in the meat industry, while in the UK, Boohoo is being dropped both by its customers and investors.
Managing the fallout of Covid-19
8 July 2020
South Korea: government re-launches ratification process of fundamental ILO conventions in order to avoid EU trade retaliation
Under pressure from the European Union for non-compliance with the free trade agreement, South Korea’s government announced that it had relaunched the process of ratifying the ILO conventions on freedom of association, the right to organize and bargain collectively, and the prohibition of forced labour (albeit only one of the conventions, with the other still requiring some legal adaptation). This free trade agreement, which entered into force in 2015, intends for these fundamental conventions to be ratified as...
30 June 2020
Asian garment sector on the cusp of a “humanitarian crisis”
An investigation conducted by the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC) has reached an indisputable verdict: the anticipated impact of the Covid-19 epidemic on the fashion and garment industry would represent a veritable “humanitarian crisis”. The first signs began to emerge as early as March, when a report indicated that, in Bangladesh, more than half of suppliers had experienced mass cancellations of orders, either completed or in production, as a result of the pandemic (see article n°11941),...
26 June 2020
Germany: government scales back ambitions for corporate duty of vigilance bill
In an article published on Thursday 25 June, the business daily Handelsblatt lifts the lid on the broad outlines of a bill being prepared, which would introduce a duty for companies to be vigilant when it comes to social and environmental standards in supply chains (Sorgfaltspflichtengesetz). The bill, the presentation of which has been delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic and consequent lockdown, is important as it is intended to serve as a model for similar future European Union legislation that Germany wants to...
20 May 2020
McDonald’s: trade unions file sexual harassment complaint with the OECD
An international group of trade unions is tackling ‘systematic sexual harassment” at McDonald’s by bringing a case to the OECD for mediation. The complaint also targets two of the fast food chain’s shareholders as the OECD’s own guidelines ‘require due diligence by institutional shareholders in companies to ensure responsible business conduct.’
6 May 2020
EU: EU Commission to propose a regulation by 2021 on human rights due diligence in global supply chains
On 29 April the European media reported that EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders had announced that next year, and as part of the EU Commission’s 2021 work plan and the European Green Deal, he would be presenting a legislative proposal that would create a due diligence obligation to prevent the risks of human rights violations in global supply chains. While clearly not new news (c.f. article No. 11675), Mr. Reynders’ announcement, made during a European Parliament webinar, confirms that the EU...
5 March 2020
Great Britain: investors increasingly more vociferous over the gender gap
The Investment Association, a trade body representing UK investment managers, has written to 63 companies listed on the FTSE 350 criticizing them for the lack of female participation on their supervisory and management boards (BoM). In the letter the IA has called on these major companies to explain how they were working towards improving gender balance and encouraged them to reach the goal of 33% female management board participation by the end of the year, as per the Hampton-Alexander Review recommendation (c.f....
4 March 2020
CSR: major brands reportedly linked to Uyghur forced labor in China
In the foreword to the Uyghurs for Sale report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI* here), published on 01 March 2020, ‘The Chinese government has facilitated the mass transfer of Uyghur and other ethnic minority citizens from the far west region of Xinjiang to factories across the country.’ According to the report displaced citizens are working ‘Under conditions that strongly suggest forced labour, Uyghurs are working in factories that are in the supply chains of at least 83 well-known global...
13 February 2020
EU: the European Commission withdraws part of trade tariff preferences granted to Cambodia due to human rights violations
On 12 February the European Commission announced it was withdrawing some trade tariff preferences accorded to Cambodia because of ‘serious and systematic violations of the human rights principles enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights’, it noted in a statement. Brussels had warned Cambodia in February 2019 that it could suspend these preferential trading terms if the country did not take the necessary measures to safeguard human rights including failure to respect freedom of...
13 February 2020
UN: UN Human Rights Office lists 112 companies with activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory
This controversial list (here) that was published on 12 February has been subject to intense lobbing not least by a variety of NGOs and trade union bodies that are calling for greater transparency in order to lead awareness campaigns or calls for boycott (for more on this issue c.f. article No. 10817) and other equally vigorous opponents to the publication. The list includes 112 companies, 94 of which are domiciled in Israel and 18 of which are domiciled in six other countries (United States, France, Luxembourg,...