Global CEOs on the Board of The Consumer Goods Forum continue their efforts in tackling forced labour by adopting and calling for action on “Priority Industry Principles”:
Every worker should have freedom of movement, no worker should pay for a job, no worker should be indebted or coerced to work
PARIS, 6th December 2016 – The consumer goods industry, through The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), has advanced its social stewardship efforts in its bid to eradicate forced labour from global supply chains by establishing three “Priority Industry Principles” (the “Principles”). Building on momentum from the CGF’s ground-breaking Forced Labour Resolution, announced earlier this year, the three Principles will help to prioritise action to address the primary drivers of forced labour within the consumer goods industry and beyond. The International Labour Organization reports that there are currently 21 million victims of forced labour in the world and the CGF Board of Directors anticipate that these newly established focus areas will inspire the entire industry, as well as others, to translate the Resolution into action.
Through industry research and stakeholder consultations, the CGF has identified three of the most problematic, yet often common, employment practices across the world that can lead to cases of forced labour – especially amongst vulnerable workers. While the CGF acknowledges that these practices can have complex root causes and diverse manifestations in workplaces, the journey toward eliminating them must begin in earnest. In order to do so, the CGF developed the Priority Industry Principles, to provide further direction to counter these practices. The principles are as follows:
The CGF and its members will now work to uphold these practices in their own operations, and will use their collective voice to promote the adoption of these priority principles industry-wide. As part of a 2017 action plan, members will take individual actions to mainstream the Principles with an initial focus in two supply chains of particular relevance to the industry – seafood and palm oil in Southeast Asia.
The development of the Priority Industry Principles was led by the CGF Priority Industry Principles Working Group, co-chaired by Mars Incorporated, Tesco, The Coca-Cola Company and Walmart. The working group first researched a variety of globally recognised resources including the International Labour Organization Indicators of Forced Labour. Then, to complement this research, surveys were deployed to CGF member companies, external stakeholders and the general public at large. Once a draft set of principles was produced, in-depth one-on-one consultations took place with key stakeholders to finalise them.
The CGF’s Forced Labour Resolution, approved by the Board of Directors in January 2016, was the first industry resolution designed to tackle forced labour. It has been actively welcomed by a wide range of actors, and the CGF intends to continue its collaboration and engagement with civil society, experts and initiatives focused on tackling forced labour. Oxfam and the International Labour Organization have already put forward their support for the Priority Industry Principles, an approach the CGF hopes will be taken by other key stakeholders.
Peter Freedman, Managing Director, The Consumer Goods Forum said, “The Priority Industry Principles are an important next step in the global fight against forced labour. These principles must be mainstreamed on a global scale so that they may lead to the necessary changes needed to remove forced labour from international supply chains. We are therefore committed to supporting our members in the implementation of the Principles in their own operations and we call for their adoption across the consumer goods industry at large. No one company can tackle forced labour alone; we need to work together through cross-sector collaborations to one day soon reach a world free of forced labour”.
Emmanuel Faber, CEO, Danone said, “I am delighted that the Board of The Consumer Goods Forum has resolved to confront the very complex challenge of forced labour around the world. Through the gradual adoption of the Priority Industry Principles by CGF members, in collaboration with governments, NGOs, international labour organisations and civil society, we can go a long way to eradicate this daunting reality. Global supply chains must serve local prosperity if the words ‘feed the world’ are to mean anything”.
Rachel Wilshaw, Ethical Trade Manager, Oxfam GB said, “Oxfam welcomes the leadership shown by The Consumer Goods Forum in coalescing support around these Priority Industry Principles, to prevent forced labour entering into the cracks in global supply chains. This extreme form of labour exploitation makes it impossible for workers to access their human rights and work their way out of poverty. We hope that all members of the CGF will use the influence they have to get behind these principles and play their part in tackling this pernicious hidden issue.”
Houtan Homayounpour, ILO forced labour focal point said, “The CGF’s Forced Labour Resolution, approved and endorsed at the highest level of the corporate world, sends a clear message of commitment to the global fight against forced labour. Now, this commitment is turning into concrete action through the Priority Industry Principles. Big congratulations to the CGF and its members!”
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The Consumer Goods Forum (“CGF”) is a global, parity-based industry network that is driven by its members to encourage the global adoption of practices and standards that serves the consumer goods industry worldwide. It brings together the CEOs and senior management of some 400 retailers, manufacturers, service providers, and other stakeholders across 70 countries, and it reflects the diversity of the industry in geography, size, product category and format. Its member companies have combined sales of EUR 3.5 trillion and directly employ nearly 10 million people, with a further 90 million related jobs estimated along the value chain. It is governed by its Board of Directors, which comprises 54 manufacturer and retailer CEOs.
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