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9 Nov 2021

Asia Floor Wage Alliance, Home Based Women Workers Federation, HomeNet International, HomeNet South Asia, HomeNet Southeast Asia, National Trade Union Federation Pakistan, Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing

EU: Workers' organisations urge policymakers to ensure upcoming due diligence directive applies to workers in all supply chain tiers

As the world reels from the devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, where supply chains and workers’ livelihoods were brought to a grinding halt, we are writing to you as worker organizations and trade unions from South and South-East Asia garment production countries. This letter represents the voices of millions of workers from Bangladesh, India, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Pakistan.

We welcome the commitment by European Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, to introduce mandatory environmental and human rights due diligence as part of a Sustainable Corporate Governance initiative, and his commitment that this initiative will include liability, enforcement mechanisms and access to remedy provisions for victims of corporate abuse.

We urge you to play your part in ensuring that the proposed human rights due diligence Directive applies to all workers, in all tiers of the supply chain; and that non-judicial enforcement mechanisms are gender-responsive and include worker-designed complaints and grievance mechanisms. We also urge that it holds directors and social auditors liable for human rights violations in supply chains; and that the enforcement mechanisms address access to justice barriers for workers from production countries.

The EU sustainable corporate governance regime must apply to all workers. If they only apply to permanent employees in tier one factories (primary suppliers), most supply chain workers, who work in smaller tier 2 and 3 factories, in workshops and at home, will continue to be vulnerable within these chains...

Women workers, who make up 80% of workers in the garment sector, need genuine access to justice. They need to know who they produce for; what their rights are; and be able to access complaint and grievance mechanisms without the threat of economic or physical reprisal: without the threat that they will lose their jobs, or suffer gender-based violence if they complain...

Finally, enterprises should ensure “meaningful engagement” with all workers and their organizations in all tiers of the supply chain during each stage of the due diligence process – identifying, preventing, mitigating and remedying human rights violations. And inputs by workers’ organizations should be sought at every stage of the design and implementation of grievance mechanisms.