Social and ethical labels

28 September 2003

- The Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) in the UK
The Ethical Trading Initiative is an alliance of companies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and trade union organisations committed to working together to identify and promote ethical trade - good practice in the implementation of a code of conduct for good labour standards (labor standards), including the monitoring and independent verification of the observance of ethics code provisions, as standards for ethical sourcing. ETI member companies commit to adopting the standards that are contained in the ETI Base Code, and are derived from the relevant conventions of the ILO. ETI's members want to ensure that the working conditions of employees in companies that supply goods to consumers in the UK meet or exceed international standards.

Members, including multinational companies (multinational corporations) or transnational companies (transnational corporations) are committed to business ethics and corporate responsibility, promotion of worker rights and human rights in general. In employment, ethical business includes working towards the ending of child labour (child labor), forced labour (forced labor), and sweatshops, looking at health and safety, labour conditions (labor conditions) and labour rights (labor rights).

ETI's members believe that this collaborative approach provides the opportunity for making significant progress in promoting the observance of internationally recognised labour standards, in particular fundamental human rights throughout global supply chains.

Trades Union Congress (TUC, the British confederation), International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers' Federation and International Union of Foodworkers are members of the ETI.

- The IEPCE (European Initiative for Ethical Production and Consumption) is a four-party European forum based on an European-level partnership between the main social and economic players who wish to encourage ethical production and consumption (employers, trade unions, NGOs, public institutions). On their website you will find a lot of information on a Code of Conduct for companies and other organisations.

- Label for social responsible production in Belgium
The Belgian Parliament has approved a law that promotes social responsible production. The law aims to improve the working conditions under which products are produced or under which producers employ their workers.
To reach this objective, a label is established for products brought on the market that respect the basic rights of the ILO (87, 98...). Companies that respect these rights will thus have an advantage and the imported products will get the social label that demonstrates their respect of consumers.
One advantage of the law is that the social label recognizes the role of unions which is not the case of many company codes of conduct that lack in control and verification, and that often serve the purpose of circumventing the unions.
The law was proposed in 1999 with the support of the Belgian trade union confederation ABVV/FGTB.

- Oxfam Belgium published a critical article on the label and what they do to influence European public procurement rules (article only available in Dutch).

- Another interesting campaign concerns the disclosure of the origin of products. In the US, the National Labor Committee concentrates on products from sweatshops and introduces resolutions with public bodies to reveal where products come from.

- Social Auditing - need for rigorous standards
The Clean Clothes Campaign has published an overview of how companies audit working conditions. This leaves much to be desired. To read more see attached file.

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