Archive for September 2016
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BTS speaks with Mark Meinster of Warehouse Workers for Justice on how supply chains affect workers in the global north, as well as on the need for solidarity between workers the world over.
BTS: Hi Mark, thanks for joining us. Can we begin by asking you to tell us what your goals were for this year’s International Labour Conference(ILC)?
MM: Well, from a labour perspective, obviously the key long-term goal is a binding convention on decent work in global supply chains. We knew going in to this year’s ILC that a convention was a long way off and so our central objective was to open enough political space – especially among government representatives keen to see supply chain accountability – to begin that process. And we succeeded with that.
BTS: And with that success, what is your hope for post-ILC worker mobilisation?
MM: Well, I think one of the main things that has to happen is for us to build campaigns that are explicit supply chains campaigns, targeting specific brands, and linking workers in both supplier and buyer countries. For us at WWJ, for example, we represent workers who distribute products mostly manufactured in Asia and we think that a key step will be bringing these workers in the global north together with those in the global south to push towards a convention.
BTS: And can you explain to people less familiar with the issues why a convention would be so important?
MM: Well to step back a second, we’ve got to realise that the first key problem with supply chains is their lack of accountability. All the major firms want to stick with voluntary codes of conduct, they want to see voluntary global standards. And these standards are all well and good – every company should have them. But the reality is that only binding international enforcement can hold lead firms legally accountable for labour violations that occur in their supply chains. So a binding ILO convention is one tool that can help buying countries build legislation that will hold their multinational lead firms accountable.