June 26, 2012
MSN works at the international level to identify and promote industry-wide solutions to systemic problems in global supply chains and to promote both voluntary and regulatory approaches to reverse the ”race to the bottom” on wages, working conditions and workers’ rights.
Some 2011 highlights:
- In February 2011, MSN coordinated a pilot labour rights training workshop hosted by the Mexico Committee (a multi-stakeholder group of apparel brands, trade unions and labour rights NGOs). Management personnel from over 30 supplier factories participated in the training workshop, which highlighted freedom of association (FOA) as one of two chronic non-compliance issues.
- After two years of discussion and debate, MSN was successful in helping to achieve the adoption of new provisions in the Fair Labor Association (FLA) Code and Benchmarks that limit working hours and address the growing problem of precarious work and promote more secure employment relationships. While not fully committing member companies to a living wage standard, the revised code does commit the FLA to the principle that workers are entitled to wages that meet their basic needs, including discretionary income, and that the FLA has a responsibility to work to progressively achieve such wages.
- At the end of 2011, MSN secured agreement from major apparel brands to participate in a multi-stakeholder working group to examine and seek solutions to the growing problem of precarious employment in the Americas.
- In August, 2011, MSN published Can CSR Ratings Help Improve Labour Practices in Global Supply Chains? The 50-page discussion paper assesses the strengths, challenges and innovations of corporate social responsibility (CSR) rating systems in addressing labour rights issues. It is a co-publication with the Project on Organizing, Development and Research (PODER), a Mexico-based corporate research and training NGO. MSN and PODER followed up the publication with an online poll of key practitioners in the areas of ratings and labour rights.
- A major focus of our work in 2011 involved third-party complaints filed by our Southern partners with the Fair Labor Association (FLA) and/or Worker Right Consortium (WRC). MSN has worked as an intermediary, pushing for credible independent investigations and appropriate corrective action. Based on the experiences in Central America, MSN proposed an FLA Board review of the FLA’s Third Party Complaint process. As one of two NGO representatives on the committee reviewing the complaint process, MSN has since put forward a number of proposals for improvements, based on consultation with complainants and investigators who have worked on such cases.