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23 Apr 2013

AFL-CIO report on failures of social audits & certification at protecting workers rights - 2013

On 23 April 2013 the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL–CIO) released a report called "Responsibility Outsourced".  AFL-CIO says that this report "digs underneath the façade of social auditing and certification schemes to reveal a deeply disturbing abdication of responsibilities on the part of both governments to protect human rights at the workplace and of companies to respect these rights by exercising due diligence regarding the impact of their business activities and their business relationships."

Responsibility Outsourced: Social Audits, Workplace Certification and Twenty Years of Failure to Protect Workers Rights [PDF], AFL-CIO, 23 Apr 2013

The report raises several serious labour rights concerns including anti-union activities, health & safety violations, harassment, forced overtime, non-payment of workers.  It criticises several companies and organizations involved in social auditing and certification.

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited the companies criticised in the report to respond to the concerns raised.

Company responses

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre also invited the social audit/compliance organizations mentioned in the report to respond.

The Cahn Group also sent us a statement in response to the report:

AFL-CIO rejoinder

On 20 May 2013 we recieved the following rejoinder from AFL-CIO.

AFL-CIO rejoinder [DOC]


We invited SAI, SAAS, WRAP and Fabrics & Fibres to respond to the rejoinder.  Their responses / non-responses are below:

Social Accountability Intl. (SAI) response

Social Accountability Accreditation Services (SAAS) response [PDF]

Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP) says it stands by its initial response

Fibres & Fabrics Intl. declined to respond further

The report also raises concerns about adidas' alleged non-payment of Indonesian supplier workers.  In Apr 2013 adidas settled this dispute.

Company Responses

Dole (formerly Standard Fruit Company)

No Response

Dolefil (Dole Philippines) (part of Itochu) View Response
Foxconn (part of Hon Hai)

No Response

G-Star Raw View Response
Jones Group View Response
Walmart de México (part of Walmart)

No Response