Ethical Trade

Work days as long as 14 hours, harmful working conditions, wages impossible to live on and prohibition of trade unions. That is the reality for many of the people who produce the goods we buy. Have a think where your shoes, your mobile phone or computer you are currently using is coming from. Entrepreneurs in ethical trade is trying to influence the conventional trade to take responsibility for how the goods are produced and prevent violations of human rights in the workplace. The companies themselves usually call their work with ethical / social and environmental issues within the business (CSR – Corporate Social Responsibility).

The term “ethical trade” is not used as much in Jacksonville, FL as it is in the UK, for example. There are no products sold under the epithet “ethically traded” as the standard term. Businesses in ethical trade do not work according to established criteria such as fair trade, although the  ILO core conventions usually work as a leitmotif of the requirements placed on business. Working methods used are advocacy, information dissemination to consumers and audits of companies which then published in reports. Often there is also a dialogue with the companies.

Codes of conduct

COmpanies in ethical trade often call businesses to adopt a so-called Code of Conduct (Code of Conduct) to be applied both within the company and among its suppliers. ILO core conventions  usually act as guidelines for the content of the code of conduct. When a code is adopted starts the complicated and extremely important work to ensure that the criteria in compliance with the Code. In the long and complex supply chains, it can be a difficult task. Therefore draw players in ethical trading guidelines on how this work can be done in a serious way. It’s about control, transparency, complaints mechanisms, procurement strategies, pricing, etc.

Global agreements

Often it is the companies themselves that examines whether the criteria in a code of conduct is followed, which many times is not enough. Surveys have shown that the conditions for producers and workers will not be significantly improved, although a code has been around for several years. Many players in ethical trade have begun to urge companies to sign a global agreement (International / Global Framework Agreements). A global agreement is an agreement between a company with global operations and an international industry trade. It is signed by both parties commit themselves to work according to its standards. The content of the framework agreement does not differ significantly from a code of conduct, but a key difference is that it involves representatives of the employees. Both employees and company representatives can thus check compliance with the agreement. A global agreement will make it easier for employees to join a union – something that is very unusual in many of the producing countries. In addition, it opens up a dialogue between management and employees.

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