There are many international companies who have signed the Ethical Trading Initiative along with unions and NGOs. From the distance of our small country it could seem irrelevant, but there are companies with products supplied by NZ companies who believe that shouldn't include breaches of worker and human rights.
Here in Aotearoa New Zealand, unions have relationships that go beyond borders. We've seen recently how workers in the Asia Pacific region are prepared to show their solidarity to AFFCO Talley workers, calling on them to stop "butchering human rights".
These actions shouldn't be dismissed. They come from workers who are up against it themselves working in tough regions where human and worker rights are often abused. Their voices matter in regions where New Zealand is trying to expand its trade.
But there's more than that. Through the MWU affiliation to the International Union of Food Workers, we are associated with Ethical Trade Initiatives. This means that many companies, such as the UK and even the US are watching and even prepared to take action when they see human and worker rights abuses.
The Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) is a leading alliance of companies, trade unions and NGOs that promotes respect for workers' rights around the globe. They share our vision of a world where all workers are free from exploitation and discrimination and enjoy conditions of freedom, security and equity.
What is ethical trade?
Ethical trade means that retailers, brands and their suppliers take responsibility for improving the working conditions of the people who make the products they sell. Companies with a commitment to ethical trade adopt a code of labour practice that they expect all their suppliers to work towards. Such codes address issues like wages, hours of work, health and safety and the right to join free trade unions.
Why is ETI needed?
Doing ethical trade is much harder than it sounds. Modern supply chains are vast, complex and span the globe. In New Zealand, labour issues are complex. What are human rights when it comes to workers rights on the job or to freely join trade unions and collectively bargain? What are the rights of workers to be safe at work?
ETI brings corporate, trade union and voluntary sector members together in a unique alliance that enables us to collectively tackle many thorny issues that cannot be addressed by individual companies working alone.
So, just like capital, unions are connected. The power of global union solidarity needs to be taken seriously by companies who seek to undermine workers and human rights, because their actions won't be confined.