Looking Beyond Audit: Ethical Outreach with Workers in China - plate2planet powered by Bidfood

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Looking Beyond Audit: Ethical Outreach with Workers in China

We all recognise the importance of looking beyond our own operations to assess, identify and mitigate ethical risks within our global supply chains, this is one of the reasons Princes are undertaking a series of human rights due diligence approaches in specific, higher risk sourcing countries.

The objective behind this initiative is first of all to understand some of the challenges on the ground at lower tiers within our supply chains, rather than relying on an independent ethical audit at the factory.  We also recognise that it would be impossible to undertake an in-depth review of all of our supply chains across over 80 countries.

Over the past twelve months we completed specific outreach visits to China, Thailand and Indonesia and the findings have been both sobering and encouraging.

Sobering

Take our most recent visit to China which our Head of Ethical Trading, Paul Williams, completed in April.  He visited a number of chemical factories who supply ingredients used in our food and drink products and canned fruit suppliers.  The visit took place less than three weeks after the worst industrial disaster in China since 2015 where 78 workers were killed and over 600 injured in an explosion at a chemical plant.

Encouraging

It was really encouraging to speak not only with factory workers but security and catering workers in our supply chain to understand the impact ethical and social initiatives are having from their perspective.   Within the chemicals supply chain workers not only have access to free accommodation, free meals during the working week but also some of the most impressive facilities seen for workers based at site including libraries, gymnasiums and accommodation with Wifi, air conditioning and TVs provided by the management.   This is in addition to meeting the basics around implementation of the ETI Base Code of Labour Practices on areas such as wages, working hours and regular employment being provided.  Within the canned fruit supply chain, having met with workers and visited accommodation in the Chemicals supply chain we were able to offer some guidance on areas for improvements.

Next steps

Independent ethical audits still have an important part to play in building a picture about the ethical risks but only go so far in truly understanding the root causes of the risks and how others in the supply chain can add value.

Working with customers like Bidvest, we are pleased to continue shining the light on the risks as well as work together on the solutions to improve the lives of workers throughout our supply chain.

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