Due to an unprecedented economic downturn as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic, governments around the world have been scrambling to develop economic support packages to help businesses stay afloat. In the Netherlands, Dutch parliamentarians discussed the conditions for a third economic support package last week. Many of the corporations that would benefit from this support package are highly influential, not only on their local market and consumers, but also on improving the lives and conditions of the people working in their supply chains.
As such, Fair Wear has sent a letter to the Dutch parliament calling on ministers to take a simple but very important step in requiring companies benefiting from the support package to strengthen the rights of the people in their supply chains by committing to implement the guidelines set out by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). These guidelines are aligned with international treaties for responsible business practices. It is important that companies map out the risks their business practices can pose to people and the environment. Although not legally enforceable, the guidelines provide a crucial opportunity for buyers, consumers, media, employees, shareholders and other stakeholders to hold companies accountable for their actions. In a recent article for Trouw, Professor Karen Maas recalls that current policy states that all Dutch companies with international supply chains are expected to align with the OECD guidelines.
The proposed condition for government support would allow society to explicitly holding companies responsible for their actions. It is Fair Wear’s belief that companies that refuse to subscribe to the most basic, internationally-agreed decent business practices should not benefit from state aid.
Read the letter sent to the Dutch parliament (in Dutch) here.