|End-of-day quote - 11/25|
Top Glove Bhd : Saving the lives of the workers who are saving our lives
|09/29/2020 | 05:01am|
When the COVID-19 pandemic broke, there was a rush to find personal protective equipment (PPE) for key workers. But in the urgency to stay safe, nobody stopped to question who was making the PPE, and whether they were safe too.
With billions of pounds spent on PPE and other life-saving equipment since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the extent to which the public purse is contributing to, or is complicit in, human rights violations globally has worsened.
Whilst trying to meet demanding production targets for the pandemic, migrant workers for
Furthermore, UNISON suspects a Malaysian factory that makes the ventilators for masks has put workers' health and safety on the backburner in order to meet demand.
In today's global economy, goods and services are produced in complex global supply chains built on a model of fast, low-cost production. Hundreds of sub-contracted companies are involved in the production of goods and this has led to a break down in the contractual relationship between the buyers of goods and services and the workers delivering them.
So what is UNISON doing about it?
Before the pandemic hit, UNISON had already been developing public sector training on purchasing practices to support workers' rights in global supply chains. It is evident that, in the wake of the pandemic, this training has become even more vital to roll out across UNISON branches and activists.
UNISON head of international relations
To support the training programme UNISON has conducted extensive research into the role that public sector organisations play procurement and is conducting new research to find out what's happening during COVID-19.
We've so far found that, for many local authorities, items like PPE were being bought off the shelf without any normal contracting procedures or ethical considerations. All participants interviewed by UNISON said that, in the rush to fast-track PPE, there were no ethical considerations. They also doubted that even normal procedures were upheld.
With COVID-19 travel bans, international monitoring organisations have been unable access factories to conduct audits on working conditions. To make matters even more complicated, many sustainability staff in procurement teams have been furloughed, which has made oversight even more difficult during fast-track buying. In addition to PPE, other fast-tracked products included electronics for home-working, such as laptops and tablets.
UNISON is committed to making sure that workers' rights are at the centre of procurement plans, and that ethical considerations in contracts should be the standard, rather than an afterthought.
This autumn, UNISON is launching a training strategy with a series of webinars followed by learning resources in the spring for branches and members to push for transparency and ethics in their procurement processes and supply chains. The webinar series,
This training applies to the pandemic and beyond and will equip UNISON members to gain a commitment from suppliers to continuously monitor supply chains for potential risk to human rights.
UNISON head of international relations
Further work UNISON is doing on human rights:
* Working alongside the
* Lobbying for the Modern Slavery Act to be extended to public bodies. The act currently only encourages businesses to take responsibility for their supply chains by ensuring no slavery, forced or child labour is involved in the production of goods destined for the
* Writing a joint report with CORE coalition and the
UNISON works with individual unions and global union federations around the world to defend public services, fight against austerity and defend human and trade union rights wherever they are under attack.
COVID-19 has shone a spotlight on how hundreds of thousands of workers are severely exploited, enslaved even, to make our PPE and other essential work tools. This first webinar will discuss the problem with global supply chains, workers' rights and public procurement; show how what we do locally has a global impact and why it is an issue for UNISON members; and the exciting solutions UNISON is developing. Everyone welcome.
(C) 2020 M2 COMMUNICATIONS, source