Do sweatshops exist in America? Ask Arnie, who has just launched the California Economic and Employment Enforcement Coalition. This means government support for factory inspections, rather than relying on retailers to implement their own social compliance programme, which of course they only do with an eye to the PR value thereof.
When I try to explain what I do for a living, people seem puzzled that any company would pay for their suppliers to be inspected by us, if it isn’t a legal requirement for them to do so. Because surely it’s better for them to keep quiet about the abuse of the people who make their products for next to nothing, in developing countries. In England, most retailers look very blankly at our salesman when he tries to offer them our services. Corporate Social Responsibility? Yes, thanks, we already give our staff subsidised gym membership…
United Nations Global Compact
The UN Global Compact is a voluntary set of principles to which its participants commit their businesses, within their own sphere of influence:
Principle 1: Businesses should support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights; and
Principle 2: make sure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses.
Principle 3: Businesses should uphold the freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining;
Principle 4: the elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labour;
Principle 5: the effective abolition of child labour; and
Principle 6: the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.
Principle 7: Businesses should support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges;
Principle 8: undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility; and
Principle 9: encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies.
Principle 10: Businesses should work against all forms of corruption, including extortion and bribery.