Minimum social standards for the whole range
We also insist on compliance with minimum social standards for our conventionally manufactured goods, including proper remuneration, observance of working hours and effective social dialogue.
In recent years, working with various partners we have stepped up our commitment to minimum social standards in fruit and vegetable cultivation and at big production companies in developing and emerging countries.
GRASP guarantees good social practice
In 2005, with GlobalG.A.P., the world's largest standards organization in the agricultural sector, and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), we initiated the GRASP project (GlobalG.A.P. Risk Assessment on Social Practice). Our common goal was to firmly establish social criteria in agricultural practices in so-called risk countries. GRASP dictates 11 clear control points. These are four examples of this:
- Payment of statutory minimum wages
- Introduction of a time-recording system
- Adherence to working week of no more than 60 hours – including during harvest
- Ban on child labour
GRASP owes its potency to its practicality
These control points were defined by stakeholder workshops held during an initial phase that lasted until 2007. Their application was reviewed in over 30 trial audits in five countries: Spain, Morocco, Vietnam, Kenya and Brazil. Our fruit and vegetable suppliers have committed to implementing GRASP and undergo audits by independent, external specialist units. At present, around 56’000 workers in our supply chain are benefiting from this. Fruit and vegetables grown in risk countries for which social standards apply to their cultivation make up over 90 percent of our total sales.
GRASP: Our example sets a precedent
Because of its user-friendly and low-cost approach, GRASP is widely effective. Many more retailers nowadays require their producers to implement GRASP. Consequently, in 2016, the number of producers operating in accordance with the GRASP standard had risen to 29’000. They employ around 360’000 workers who, thanks to Coop's preparatory work, are benefiting from improved working conditions in agriculture.
BSCI: Commitment to social standards in processing
Today, over 1’900 trading companies rely on BSCI, the Business Social Compliance Initiative. We joined the initiative in 2005 and adopted the BSCI Code of Conduct which, in particular, is based on the United Nation's Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights, the OECD guiding principles and the conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO). The BSCI process involves awareness-raising, round table discussions with authorities and trade unions and regular audits by accredited inspection bodies.
BSCI exploits synergies through joint audits
Thanks to BSCI, the trading companies conduct audits in accordance with the same criteria and share each other's results. This is far more efficient than a scenario in which each company has to audit each individual supplier itself. Moreover, the companies in the initiative enjoy greater bargaining power and, together, can demand higher standards. To give one example, child labour is now virtually eradicated at companies working in export. China has revised its employment law in line with western laws. And in Thailand, there is now an awareness of the need to reduce working hours and increase wages.
Our BSCI process
As a percentage of sales, 96 percent of our direct non-food suppliers from risk countries undergo the BSCI process. At the end of 2016, the percentage awarded BSCI status «good», BSCI audit «Improvement needed», an SA8000 certificate or an ICTI certificate was 87 percent.
We use a step by step, risk-based approach to conducting reviews.
Signature of the Code of Conduct
Firstly, transparency must be created with regard to suppliers' production sites. By signing the BSCI Code of Conduct, suppliers undertake – as well as observing the respective national laws – to guarantee the requirements applicable to environmental protection, discrimination, forced labour, child labour, working hours, wages, working conditions, occupational safety, ethical business practices, living accommodation and freedom of association.
Self-assessment by the company
The next step is the company's self-assessment of current working conditions and the need for changes. This clarifies whether a company can be audited immediately or whether there is a need for training in social management first. In the Far East, the Eurogroup Purchasing Office in Hong Kong helps producers implement the BSCI process. The audits of production facilities are carried out by specially trained and independent auditors who are accredited by SAI (Social Accountability International) and also document the necessary corrective measures.
The corrective measures should be implemented within six to twelve months, and are reviewed in another audit. As a participant in BSCI, we are required to provide support for suppliers with the implementation of these measures.
Companies that have completed the BSCI process can work towards SA8000 certification. SA8000 is currently the most exacting standard for social working conditions.
Participation in BSCI through FTA membership
Suppliers that are themselves members of the Foreign Trade Association (FTA), meaning that they automatically participate in BSCI, are increasingly important to us. We appreciate it when suppliers independently get involved in BSCI and voluntarily have their production companies in risk countries audited.
BSCI PP Code of Conduct
To improve working conditions in large-scale agricultural production in developing and emerging countries, we are increasingly relying on BSCI Primary Production (BSCI PP). In 2012, we devoted a great deal of effort to implementing BSCI PP at three companies in Peru and Morocco. Since then, around 27 production companies have adopted BSCI PP for fruit and vegetables.