Supply chain/"Fair trade" - an introduction

Below are select introductory materials on business and supply chain/"Fair trade" issues.  Further reports from a wide range of sources are in the "Supply chain/"Fair trade"" section of our site.

Key international standards

SA8000 Standard, Social Accountability International, 2008

Fairtrade standards, Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International

Key reports & guidance

Guide to responsible sourcing - Integrating social and environmental considerations into the supply chain [PDF], Intl. Chamber of Commerce, 2008

Complicity in Human Rights Violations: A Responsible Business Approach to Suppliers [PDF], Margaret Jungk, Human Rights & Business Project, Danish Institute for Human Rights, 2006

Full Package Approach to Labour Codes of Conduct, Clean Clothes Campaign, Apr 2008

Better Cotton Initiative

Resource Center, Fair Labor Association

“Is Fair Trade a good fit for the garment industry?" [PDF], Maquila Solidarity Network, Sep 2006

Benchmarking Corporate Policies on Labor and Human Rights in Global Supply Chains [PDF], Aaron Bernstein, Labor & Worklife Program, Harvard Law School; Christopher Greenwald, ASSET4, Nov 2009

Concerns, company responses & non-responses

The Resource Centre invites companies to respond to allegations of misconduct.  Below are examples of allegations and company responses regarding supply chain/"Fair trade" issues.  We also indicate when a company has not responded

Global: National Labor Committee report accuses Toyota of labour abuses in own operations & supply chain, Jul 2008. Response from Toyota.

Global: "Subsidizing Sweatshops" report says companies supplying US state uniforms source from firms "engaged in serious human rights & labor violations", Jul 2008. Responses from Bob Barker Company, Cintas Corp., Eagle Industries, Lion Apparel, Rocky Brands, Williamson-Dickie. No responses received from Fechheimer Brothers, Propper International.

Global: SOMO "Overviews of controversial business practices in 2008" raising supply chain issues at companies Philips, Ahold, Jul 2009. Responses from Philips, Ahold.

Asia: Clean Clothes Campaign report "Cashing in" says discount model leads to labour abuses at factories in Asia supplying Aldi, Carrefour, Lidl, Tesco, Wal-Mart, Mar 2009. Responses from Aldi, Carrefour, Lidl, Tesco, Wal-Mart.

Bangladesh: SweatFree Communities alleges labour abuses by Wal-Mart supplier JMS Garments, Nov 2008. Responses from JMS Garments, Wal-Mart.

Bangladesh: Factory of supplier Spectrum Sweater in Dhaka, Bangladesh, collapses, killing 64 workers – Global textiles union (ITGLWF) and Clean Clothes Campaign raise concerns about working conditions prior to collapse, May 2005. Response from Carrefour, Cotton Group, Inditex (Zara), Scapino, Steilmann.

Bangladesh: National Labor Committee appeals to Metro Group not to "cut and run" from supplier RL Denim following allegations of labor abuses, May, Jun 2009. Response from Metro Group.

Bangladesh, Costa Rica, India: ActionAid says women working for suppliers to UK supermarkets locked into dangerous conditions, "appallingly" low pay, Apr 2007. Response from Sainsbury’s. No response from ASDA (part of Wal-Mart).

China: National Labor Committee alleges factories making books for Disney operate under unsafe conditions, Aug 2005. Response from Walt Disney.

China: Swedwatch/Fair Trade Center report alleges poor working conditions at toy factories, Jun 2005. Response from Brio, Coop, Top-Toy.

China: China Labor Watch report alleges serious labour rights abuses at Puma's supplier Surpassing Shoe Co, Jul 2008. Response from Puma.

China: "High Tech Misery in China": Natl. Labor Committee (US) alleges labour abuses at Mae Tay keyboard factory supplying Dell, HP, IBM, Lenovo, Microsoft, Feb 2009. Responses from Dell, HP, IBM, Lenovo, Mae Tay, Microsoft.

China: Allegations of rigged union election at Shunda factory, decline in working conditions since adidas acquired Reebok, Apr 2008.  Response from adidas.

China: Report by Sunday Times (UK) alleges labour abuses at adidas suppliers in Fuzhou, including Shunda factory, Apr 2008.  Response from adidas.

Latin America: Labour coalition says abuses of workers' rights persist on Dole's plantations & those of its suppliers, Nov 2009. Response from Dole.

Sri Lanka: Protests against Gap, Victoria's Secret for sourcing from Sri Lanka, over govt. abuses against Tamils, Nov 2009. Responses from Gap, Victoria's Secret.

Thailand: Thai Labour Campaign study says women making footballs earn “poverty wages”, July 2006.  Response from adidas.

Turkey: Clean Clothes Campaign raises concerns of anti-union activity, other labour abuses at Menderes Textil factory, Jun 2009. Responses from Carrefour, Ibena, Ikea, Mothercare, Otto, Target, Wal-Mart. No response from Horizonte, Kohl’s.

USA: Tomato pickers allege McDonald's using new voluntary certification programme instead of adequately addressing working conditions & pay issues, Jan 2006. Response from McDonald’s.

USA: Coalition of Immokalee Workers calls on Burger King to support better living & working conditions for tomato pickers, Apr 2008. Response from Burger King.

Positive steps by companies

Global: 8 jewellers, including Cartier, call on mining firms to produce gold responsibly – No Dirty Gold campaign welcomes move, Feb 2006.

Global: Nike publishes full list of its suppliers – first major apparel company to do so, Apr 2005.

Global: Timberland CEO argues consumer pressure and "global public policy about human rights" applicable to business are necessary for companies to ensure responsible supply chains, Nov 2009.

Global: Responsible Jewellery council launched by business orgs. & companies to promote responsible social & environmental practices throughout the value chain (from mine to retail), Jul 2005. 

Global: Unions, NGOs & companies including adidas, New Balance, Nike, Pentland form group to improve respect for labour rights, Jul 2008.

Global: US faith-based investors welcome automotive companies' project to improve workplace human rights in supply chain, Dec 2008.

Global: "Ethical diamonds" go beyond conflict-free diamonds - refers to responsible sourcing by Brilliant Earth, Igloo Diamonds, Mar 2008.

Global: Cadbury to source cocoa from fair trade suppliers - Global Exchange, Intl. Labor Rights Forum welcome move, Mar 2009.

Global: Ikea's long-term partnership with UNICEF to prevent child labour in its supply chain, Oct 2009.

Global: [French only] WWF-France joins with Castorama, Leroy Merlin, Nature & Découvertes, & other companies to support sustainable trade in wood products.

Africa: [Spanish only] European textile companies including Otto Group, Puma, Tchibo, and Celio support project in Africa to promote “socially responsible” cotton, Oct 2008.

Burma: Cartier announces it has stopped buying gemstones which may have been mined in Burma, until further notice, Oct 2007.

China: Wal-Mart tells its Chinese suppliers to meet strict environmental & social standards, Oct 2008.

China: ASrIA publishes report on Impactt's "Overtime Project", in which 11 UK retailers each worked with a supplier factory in China to improve working conditions, Oct 2005.

Colombia: DONG Energy says it will not sign new contracts with Drummond coal until lawsuit regarding killings of trade unionists in Colombia is resolved, Aug 2006.

Dem. Rep. of Congo: Traxys says it will stop buying minerals from eastern Dem. Rep. of Congo, following pressure from UN & human rights groups, May 2009.

Ecuador: [Spanish only] Carrefour promotes development of small peasants through its "solidarity trade" project, Apr 2008.

Ethiopia: Green Mountain Coffee agrees to work with Ethiopian Govt. to ensure better pricing for farmers - Oxfam welcomes move, Jan 2007. 

Rwanda: Starbucks opens support centre to help farmers improve coffee quality, attract better prices, Jul 2009.

USA: Compass to buy winter tomatoes only from growers that abide by Immokalee workers' code of conduct on working conditions, living wage, Sep 2009.

Uzbekistan: Uzbek Govt. signs ILO conventions after retailers including Tesco, Asda/Wal-Mart, Marks & Spencer, Gap pull out over forced child labour in cotton industry, May 2009.

Vietnam: IFC, ILO, intl. buyers launch Better Work Vietnam programme to improve working conditions & competitiveness in apparel industry - refers to Gap as one of the programme's supporters, Oct 2008.

Get RSS feed of these results

Related stories and components

21 February 2020

Chile: Volkswagen and Daimler respond to supply chain concerns by launching study into sustainable lithium mining for electric vehicles

Author: Reuters

“Exclusive: Germany's Volkswagen and Daimler push for more 'sustainable' Chile lithium”, 11th February 2020...

Read more

28 November 2009

Big GAP in ethics, US shoppers told


Several dozen protesters carried placards in front of the Gap and Banana Republic ...urging ethical U.S. shoppers to boycott garments produced in Sri Lanka, while another group of Tamil activists assembled in front of Victoria's Secret

Read more

18 November 2009

International timber company DLH accused of funding Liberian war [France]

Author: Global Witness

Global Witness and Sherpa, along with Greenpeace France, Amis de la Terre, and a prominent Liberian activist, have lodged a complaint before the Public Prosecutor at the Court of Nantes against Dalhoff, Larsen and Horneman (DLH)…alleg[ing] that during...

Read more

1 November 2009

[PDF] Benchmarking Corporate Policies on Labor and Human Rights in Global Supply Chains

Author: Aaron Bernstein, Pensions & Capital Stewardship Project, Labor & Worklife Program, Harvard Law School [USA]; Christopher Greenwald, ASSET4 [Switzerland]

This paper offers an initial building block required for the development of social factor investment analysis. Using ASSET4 data on 2,508 global corporations, we benchmark public LHR policies relating to global supply chains... The goal is to build...

Read more

11 October 2009

Caring for children in-store means doing so in the Third World, as well

Author: Kaya Burgess, Times [UK]

...[F]or a decade a partnership has been flourishing between ... [UNICEF and Ikea] in an attempt to reduce child labour in the developing world — a corporate-charitable tag team formed amid concerns in the mid-1990s that child labour was being used by...

Read more

1 October 2009

[PDF] Dole… Behind the Smoke-screen… What is new since our report on the company’s plantations in Latin America in 2006 ?

Author: Jean-Paul Arpi & Maude Feral - Peuples Solidaires / Action Aid; Helge Fischer - Banafair

In 2006, a group of civil society organisations published a report about Dole and their suppliers in Latin America...[which] uncovered violations of trade union freedom and workers’ rights in the plantations that produce Dole bananas... Three years on,...

Read more

25 September 2009

Farm Workers' Wages to Increase Under Labor Agreement

Author: Jane Black, Washington Post

In what Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis called a "huge victory" for farm workers, one of the country's largest food service companies announced Friday that it will buy winter tomatoes only from growers that pay a fair wage and offer good working...

Read more

7 July 2009

Starbucks opens farmer support centre in Africa [Rwanda]

Author: Bosco Hitimana, East African Business Week

Starbucks, a US coffee company, last week opened its first farmer support centre in Africa…based in Rwanda…The centre will particularly work with East African coffee communities to help them continue to improve their coffee quality and to increase the...

Read more

19 June 2009

Unprecedented Victory for Workers across the Developing World

Author: National Labor Committee [USA]

Metro Group...has been forced to do the right thing. Metro Group: Will immediately return all of its orders to the R.L. Denim factory in Bangladesh; Admits to the miserable failure of its past efforts to monitor/protect even the most basic worker...

Read more

24 May 2009

Uzbekistan forced to stop child labour

Author: Nick Mathiason, Observer [UK]

In Uzbekistan, gangs forcibly remove hundreds of thousands of children from schools, order them to pick cotton in the searing heat and live in squalid conditions on pitiful wages…Uzbeki state-controlled cotton is sold to the world's biggest retailers,...

Read more