An Introduction to the Ethical Trading
1. WHAT IS
The ETI is an alliance of companies, NGOs and
trade unions operating in the UK. It exists to identify and promote
good practice in the implementation of codes of labour practice.
Members are committed to working together to achieve that aim.
Our ultimate goal is to ensure that the working conditions of
employees in companies that supply goods to consumers in the UK
meet or exceed international standards.
ETI was established in 1998. It is funded by
membership fees paid by its company and NGO members and by a grant
from the international development budget of the British Government's
Department for International Development.
2. HOW DID
ETI COME ABOUT?
The ETI was an initiative taken by key people
in the company, NGO and trade union sectors, with British government
support, to see whether a co-operative approach to improving labour
conditions in the supply chain could be taken. It is an alternative
to an approach based on campaigns and boycotts on one side, and
company resistance on the other.
All sides felt that in the changing political
and economic climate of the late 1990s a space had opened up for
a more co-operative approach that would yield genuine improvements
in working conditions, while satisfying the companies' desire
to maintain brand values and the NGO and union desire to see the
benefits of economic activity more evenly shared.
ETI is part of a wider contemporary movement
towards codes of conduct and multi-stakeholder approaches, evident
in Europe, the USA, Canada and Australasia. Multi-stakeholder
monitoring initiatives are beginning to gain ground in other parts
of the world, for example the establishment of the Wine Industry
Ethical Trade Association (WIETA) in the Republic of South Africa
in November 2002.
3. WHAT LABOUR
ETI SEEK TO
ETI has drawn up a nine-point code covering:
no forced labour; freedom of association and the right to collective
bargaining; safe and hygienic working conditions; no use of child
labour; living wages; limits to working hours; no discrimination;
regularity of employment; no harsh or inhumane treatment. This
is known as the "ETI Base Code" and has been circulated
separately. It can also be found on ETI's website: www.ethicaltrade.org.
The ETI Base Code reflects the core labour standards
of the International Labour Organisation, which is the pre-eminent
authority in global labour standards.
4. WHY IS
ETI CONCERNED ABOUT
Over the last decade, consumers in Britain have
shown increasing interest in the conditions under which the products
they buy are made. It's no longer just a matter of the size, shape,
taste or functional characteristics of the consumer goods they
buy. Many consumers also want to know that their food, drink,
clothes, household items or presents have been produced in conditions
where workers and the environment have been treated fairly. The
international media and global electronic communications are bringing
UK and European consumers much more information about labour conditions
in the countries from which they import.
Companies have observed market resistance to
products produced under adverse labour and environmental conditions,
when such conditions have been exposed by the media. Companies
are also concerned to protect their reputations and brand values,
and this extends to the brand values of suppliers who have internationally-recognised
names and logos.
The NGO members of ETI aim to promote a fairer
form of economic development around the world. The trade union
members have a direct interest in improving global labour standards.
5. WHAT ACTIVITIES
IS ETI UNDERTAKING
As a condition of membership, ETI member companies
have undertaken to apply the ETI Base Code to their international
supply chains. This means identifying suppliers, discussing the
Code and its context with suppliers, carrying out audits, negotiating
improvement plans and monitoring progress.
The emphasis is on maintaining supply from existing
suppliers and developing productive long-term relationships. Only
in extreme cases of persistent non-compliance would the companies
terminate their supply relationships.
Further, ETI members have embarked on a number
of Pilot Projects to test methods of monitoring and verification
(against the ETI Base Code) in supplier countries. Pilots include:
wine in South Africa, clothing in China and bananas in Costa Rica.
ETI also organises seminars for its members,
and other interested parties, on issues relating to international
6. WHO ARE
ETI has three categories of members: company,
NGO and trade union. ETI's membership is representative of NGOs
in the UK, trade unions in the UK and internationally, and company
members with a very large presence in UK retailing.
ETI member companies have a combined annual
turnover of over £100 billion (US$150 billion) and many thousands
of supplier-partners around the world. Our trade union members
are umbrella organisations that co-ordinate the work of their
affiliates. Together, they represent more than 157 million workers
worldwide in every country where free trade unions can operate.
In April 2003, the following organisations where members of the
Anchor Seafood Ltd, Arbor International
ASDA, Bewley's Ltd.
Chiquita International Brands, Debenhams Retail
Ltd, Desmond & Sons Ltd, Dewhirst Group, Fyffes Group Ltd,
J Sainsbury Ltd,
Lambert Howarth Global, Levi Strauss & Co
Lyons Seafoods Limited, M&W Mack Ltd,
Madison Hosiery, Marks & Spencer, Monsoon,
Mothercare, Next plc, Pentland Group plc, Premier International
Foods, Quantum Clothing Ltd, Safeway Stores plc, Somerfield Stores
Ltd, Tea Sourcing Partnership,
The Co-operative Group (CWS) Ltd, TESCO, The Body Shop International,
Union Coffee Roasters
International Confederation of Free Trade UnionsICFTU
International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers'
International Union of Food WorkersIUF
UK Trades Union CongressTUC
Africa Now, Anti-Slavery International
CAFOD, Central American Women's Network, Christian
Aid, Fairtrade Foundation
Homeworkers Worldwide, Labour and Society International,
National group on Homeworking, Oxfam, Quaker Peace & Social
Witness, Save the Children, Traidcraft Exchange, TWIN, War on
Want, Women Working Worldwide, World Development Movement.
1 The Tea Sourcing Partnership is an association of
tea packers comprising Matthew Algie & Co., Brooke Bonde Tea
Co., Finlay Beverages, Gala Coffee & Tea, DJ Miles & Co,
Nambarrie Tea Co, Keith Spicer, Taylors of Harrogate, Tetley GB,
R. Twining & Company, and Williamson & Magor Co. Back