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21 Jun 2023

ver.di & UNI Global Union

ver.di and UNI launch union guide to assessing human rights risks under new German due diligence law

UNI and German union ver.di launched today the “Trade Union Guide to Human Rights Due Diligence Risk Analysis under the German Supply Chain Act.”

The new guide details what trade union representatives, particularly those in works councils or supervisory boards in Germany, should expect from a risk assessment under international standards and the German Supply Chain Act, which mandates human rights due diligence.

It provides vital information about how trade union activists can analyse and evaluate a company’s reporting on human rights due diligence. It also shows how to identify gaps where further action should be taken.

With a focus on the services sectors, the guide covers the overall process followed, particularly the involvement of trade unions. It has questions to identify where risks are in a company’s own business area, for workers who are not directly employed in a company’s own business area, and with suppliers.

How companies respond to these questions can help show trade union representatives where the major risks in their company may be, and where companies fail to respond, this can show gaps in a company’s own analysis.

“The law is an important tool for workers’ rights throughout the value chains of companies operating in Germany, but it is also important that trade unionists in Germany and along value chains get involved to make sure the law is effectively implemented by companies. Risk analysis is the core element of every due diligence process. Trade unionists can make it effective by asking the right questions and actively analysing companies’ due diligence reporting,” said Jenny Jungehülsing from ver.di. “This guide will help works council representatives and supervisory board members advance rights in Germany and throughout the world.”

The German Supply Chain Act tackles human rights and environmental violations in supply chains that occur in third-party countries—such as child labour, use of harmful chemicals, discrimination, and denying workers’ access to union representation and collective bargaining. From 1 January 2023, it applies to companies operating in Germany with more than 3,000 employees, and next year, it will go into effect for all companies operating in Germany with more than 1,000 workers. The law also entitles works councils to information and consultation on issues of corporate due diligence in supply chains.

The guide is available in German and English.