by Brian Collett — Credit for pay increases to 353,000 garment workers in Cambodia and Myanmar during the past five years is claimed by the London-based Ethical Trading Initiative.
The initiative, widely known as the ETI, a collaboration of employers, trade unions and NGOS campaigning for workers’ rights, makes the claim in a five-year introspective review.
In India, the review reports, business progress and workers’ welfare are now discussed by sandstone quarrying companies and their stakeholders in Rajasthan’s State Forum on Natural Stone, which the ETI helped to establish.
The review claims the ETI’s work of the past five years has brought about at least 250 core business changes, often improving co-operation between companies and suppliers in tackling poor working conditions. Examples given are in the Moroccan strawberry farming and the UK garment sector.
The ETI says: “Improved human resources and recruitment practices are also becoming embedded. Member reports reveal ETI’s members are increasingly integrating ethical trade into company culture and business practices, improving their transparency and identifying problems in the supply chain.”
It reports that 2.5 million workers are now better treated thanks to its work.
A survey into corporate attitudes to modern slavery is now being undertaken by the ETI and the Hult International Business School, which has bases in London, the US and the Far East.
Cindy Berman, the ETI’s head of knowledge and learning, said too few companies appreciated that business leaders were accountable for the human rights impacts of their activities but that “71% of companies saw a high likelihood of slavery in their supply chains”.
The researchers will examine how executives see the role of corporate leadership in tackling modern slavery and will produce case studies of the practices that are succeeding in improving conditions for workers at risk of slavery.
Their findings will appear in a publicly available report and will be used in developing learning materials.