Freedom of Association Policy
(FOA) Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining Policy:
CED respects the rights of both employees and workers in our supply chain, to access and exercise their right to FOA (Freedom of Association) and collective bargaining.
FOA is the right of workers, without exception, to establish and join organisations of their own choosing, without prior authorisation and without interference from government or their employer.
Collective bargaining is supported and recognised as a mechanism for reaching agreements on how relations between a supplier and its workers will be governed. It is the process by which Trade Union representatives, conduct negotiations with company and factory management, on behalf of employed workers, with regards to their employment terms and conditions. This is based on the sound understanding that by working together with groups of workers, there is a stronger chance of a more beneficial outcome, than if they were acting alone.
We agree with, and fully support workers entitlement to have the right to negotiate for better conditions in this way. We fully support Trade Unions right to negotiate on behalf of groups of workers, to solve issues for them and improve their conditions and status. Our belief is that the inclusiveness of collective bargaining and collective agreements is a key means for reducing inequality and improving safety and protection for workers.
We are very familiar with UNGP (United Nations Guiding Principles) guidance in this area and we are fully supportive of and committed to the ETI (Ethical Trading Initiative) Base Code clause on Freedom of association – summarised as follows:
1/ Workers, without distinction, have the right to join or form trade unions of their own choosing and to bargain collectively.
2/ The employer adopts an open attitude towards the activities of trade unions and their organisational activities.
3/ Worker’s representatives are not discriminated against and have access to carry out their representative functions in the workplace.
4/ Where the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining is restricted under law, the employer facilitates, and does not hinder, the development of parallel means for independent and free association and bargaining.
Over the years we have built up our knowledge and seen first-hand, how Trade Unions and worker committees can increase the likelihood of workers succeeding in negotiating better terms and conditions of employment. We stress to our supplier management, the importance of allowing workers to negotiate and have a “voice” in this way.
We have delivered training on “step by step rules and procedures” for operational grievance mechanisms in the work place, which has led to the setting up of a grievance committee at factories in India. This is good practice that we encourage other suppliers to follow.
Where there are no active or accessible Trade Union represented, we share good practice on grievance mechanisms with tier one factories and discuss with management during visits the need to have open dialogue with workers. We also communicate this labour right in talks with workers when we gain access. We encourage the formation of worker groups as a minimum, to discuss grievances and employment issues, collectively, and for them to then have access to senior management to push for change and improvements as necessary.
We appreciate the need for workers’ rights and protections to extend to all tiers of our supply chain. This includes taking steps to ensure that ships carrying our container shipments are covered by ITF (International Transport Workers' Federation), trade agreements.
We comply with both National laws and international standards on freedom of association and collective bargaining.
Workers of all status – whether permanent, temporary, contract or seasonal – must have access to fundamental workplace rights and protections. There should be no discrimination regarding who can join Unions or worker committees. Collective agreements should apply to all regardless of status.
Calum Fraser – Director Commercial