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FWF was present at the 2017 UN Forum on Business and Human Rights in Geneva last week. The event brought together more than 2,500 business, government, trade union and NGO representatives to address how human rights can be ensured in globalised supply chains.
FWF’s Martin Curley shared some lessons FWF has learned from its complaints mechanism during a panel discussion on ‘Strengthening access to remedy in multi-stakeholder initiatives (MSIs)’. This panel also included representatives of the Fair Labour Association, MSIs working in IT and private security, and MSI Integrity, a research NGO that is examining how well MSIs function.
FWF’s worker helpline and complaints mechanism represents one of the more advanced access-to-remedy systems. FWF members have used this system for many years to assume responsibility in fixing problems when factory-level systems are unable to do so.
‘Access to Remedy’ is a key part of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. It means that when things go wrong for workers in supply chains, companies have a responsibility to remedy this, even if they do not employ the workers directly. Many brands and industries are just starting to tackle these issues. FWF sees the work of its members in resolving complaints as helping to lead the way forward towards compliance with the UN Guiding Principles.
‘What we see coming through the FWF complaints mechanism is indicative of the systemic challenges that are seen throughout the industry,’ Martin told the 120 people in attendance. ‘We are now starting to share lessons on what it actually takes to remediate Code of Labour Practice violations, to hopefully lead to broader and more systemic change.’