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The Ethical Trading Initiative: Negotiated solutions to human rights violations in global supply chains?

Author: Tim Connor, University of Newcastle, Annie Delaney, RMIT University & Sarah Rennie, Melbourne University, Published on: 2 December 2016

November 2016

The Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) is a UK-based multi-stakeholder initiative…that focuses on improving working conditions within business supply chains…The ETI has a number of processes for responding to alleged breaches of the human rights set out in its code of conduct…Our research indicated that, with some notable exceptions, these processes have demonstrated very limited effectiveness in facilitating effective redress…[W]hy…? It is important to note that there are complicated and highly unbalanced power relationships in each of the various spheres that the ETI must influence in order to facilitate effective redress…There are also complex and unbalanced power relationships within the ETI itself…Further, arguably just by joining the ETI a company acquires a valuable shield against public criticism of its labour practices, since it can claim that it is working with well-respected civil society organisations to address human rights issues…The report also highlights factors external to the ETI that are currently undermining its effectiveness.

[Also refers to Asda, Burberry, C&A, Gap, Inditex, Marks & Spencer, Mothercare, Sainsbury's and Tesco.]

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Related companies: ASDA (part of Walmart) Burberry C&A Gap Inditex Marks & Spencer Mothercare Sainsbury's Tesco Walmart