Ethical group to map supply chains

7 September 2011

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7 September 2011 | Adam Leach

TheEthical Trading Initiative (ETI) is taking a new approach to improving workers’ rights around the world.

It plans to use the £1.2 million funding it received from the Department for International Development (DfID) to implement a category management approach to identify issues in the supply chain, from the raw material to final assembly.

The ETI and its members from the corporate, trade union and NGO sectors are already working together to collectively identify and map key supply chains in three categories. These are: food and farming, hard goods and household, and apparel and garments. The scheme will see the ETI try to identify and tackle a wide range of issues including poor company practices, unhelpful government policies and prevailing attitudes towards trade unions. It will be managed under the guidance of programme leader Debbie Coulter, formerly deputy general secretary of the GMB workers union.

Peter McAllister, ETI director, said: “We’ve made great strides in pushing ethical trade up the corporate agenda over the past decade, with clear progress in some areas. Yet too many workers around the world continue to be denied their rights.”

Explaining the need for a shift in attitude, he said: “It’s time all those involved in ethical trade focused less on how many training courses have been delivered, or how many audits have been completed and more on whether we are actually making a positive, sustained difference to the lives of the workers we are all trying to help.”

Last year, the ETI, which counts Tesco, Marks & Spencer and Fyffes Group among its members, called on the government to step up its efforts to promote ethical trade. ETI deputy director Martin Cooke said: “Ethical procurement doesn’t always have to cost more. In fact, the current drive to create greater efficiencies in public spending may create more opportunities for it.”

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