At the 105th Session of the International Labour Conference the ILO and its constituents were asked to take a proactive role in generating and making accessible reliable data on decent work in global supply chains (GSCs). In addition they were asked to conduct research to better understand how supply chains work and their impact on decent work and fundamental rights.
INWORK took action by carrying out a Global Survey on purchasing practices and working conditions in collaboration with the joint Ethical Trading Initiatives (ETIs). In total 1,454 suppliers from 87 countries responded to the questionnaire.
Two of the countries with the highest number of companies are China and India, but all geographical areas are represented. The activities performed by these suppliers cover most manufacturing industries, including garments, food, chemicals and metals, as well as the agricultural sector.
This Global Survey is also strong in terms of number of workers covered, nearly 1.5 million workers.
This study also analyses purchasing practices and working conditions by firm size. The companies covered vary greatly in size, which allows us to reach results and conclusions that are not restricted to a particular type of company.
In terms of female employment, surveyed suppliers in the garment sector were found to be dominated by women (representing 57 per cent of employees), their participation was lower in sectors such as Chemicals and Plastics (26 per cent and 17 per cent, respectively). Women are underrepresented in managerial positions in all sectors.
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The Joint Committee on Human Rights has proposed government action to oblige UK-based companies to ensure recognition of trade unions before they sign contracts with suppliers, alongside a stronger legal duty on employers to prevent human rights abuse in their operations. The recommendation, which comes with a suite of others in a wide-ranging report on Human Rights and Business released today, would – if implemented – transform rights for workers around the world denied access to support to protect themselves from long hours, low pay, deadly health & safety conditions and other abuses in the workplace. Unions are valuable partners for businesses that are taking their responsibilities seriously. As the committee recognises, a trade union presence is a far better guarantee of human rights than predicable and sporadic auditing inspections.