South Asia: IDSN calls for Dalit & other vulnerable supply chain workers to be protected from fallout of Covid-19

“Vulnerable workers in supply chain need urgent protection to survive impact of Covid-19”, 03 April 2020

We strongly urge governments and companies with supply chains in South Asia, to take measures to urgently protect migrant and informal workers, including Dalits, against a loss of income, social benefits, shelter and a means to feed themselves and their families…

These workers often have no social protection schemes, are paid by the day or piecemeal and at … low rates … Dalits … often suffer discrimination in access to resources and relief when disaster strikes ... Governments therefore need to pay special attention to these groups …

We … urge globally operating companies to:

  • Commit to pay orders of already produced goods or goods in production…
  • Make sure that wages or adequate severance payments continue to be paid by suppliers to all workers…
  • Support … the provision of health care, food and other basic necessities as well as health and safety measures …
  • Support the implementation with your suppliers of the WHO’s recommendations and health and safety guidance to protect workers from Covid-19;
  • … Through social dialogue with representatives of Dalits or other migrants and informal workers [ensure] that they are not discriminated against in any … measures …
  • Work … with … suppliers on measures to alleviate the concerns of all affected workers…
  • Encourage and support targeted policies aimed at stopping the spread of Covid-19 to the particular housing and living conditions of communities where many Dalit workers live…
  • … [T]he new ETI Guidance on Caste in Global Supply Chains and the Ambedkar Principles and Guidelines to address Caste Discrimination in the Private Sector … can be used to assess if the rights … are being violated.

We urge governments to:

  • … [D]emand that companies implement the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Companies and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights…
  • Reinforce the commitment to comply with … obligations … [from] UN core human rights treaties and ILO fundamental conventions…
  • Request companies to work with their suppliers to mitigate the impact of the crisis … on vulnerable informal workers, the majority of whom are Dalits, indigenous people, and other marginalised groups…
  • Take an effective gender perspective in all policies relating to the Covid-19, labour and supply chains;
  • … [Ensure] high-risk communities such as migrants, including Dalits, are included and addressed in global, national and local responses to Covid-19 aimed at workers in supply chains…
  • Initiate and support national and international financial commitments to take care of the immediate … needs, … [vulnerable workers] in the supply chains of globally operating companies;
  • Put in mandatory human rights due diligence requirements establishing a corporate duty to respect human rights …
  • Make clear to companies under their jurisdiction that the protection of human rights … should also deal with the structural violations of the rights of Dalits in global supply chains;
  • ... [T]ake an inclusive approach towards Dalits and other minorities in the national recovery efforts …
  • … [C]onsider Dalits and other minorities as agents of change in order to improve their labour standards … 

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