From the migrant worker denied access to her passport, to the child labourer working in hazardous conditions, the exploitation of people is a huge issue in global value chains. Labour issues can focus on a variety of things, such as migrant workers, family work, forced labour, long working hours and very low wages.
Although labour is a huge issue, small changes can make a big difference in these peoples’ lives. Global value chains have an impact on people – we believe it should be a positive one.
However, a lack of rights and enforcement in the workplace around workers’ pay, status and benefits as an employee remain an issue, as does a lack of protection from dangerous chemicals and machinery required for the job.
We want to see everyone in the value chain benefit from their association with global brands. As many of these people work in the informal sector, many tiers down the supply chain, achieving this requires engaging many stakeholders with facts and tools to encourage them to buy into what we are doing.
We build solutions in collaboration with sites such as plantations or mines, train workers and supervisors, review processes to change working practices for the better. Auditing is seen by many as a solution, but we see that as a tool - real change needs to go far beyond an audit.