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Work conditions and social standards

An increasingly important part of corporate responsibility and supply chain management is social quality control of suppliers. This is especially true in developing countries. Social quality refers to decent working conditions, including health and safety, and fair terms of employment.

• At the international level, the minimum labour standards have been agreed upon by the United Nations and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to be implemented in the national legislation. The Nordic retail groups and their European counterparts want to make sure that suppliers comply with the ILO standards, applicable national laws and regulations, and other statutory requirements, whichever are most stringent. Such requirements are a typical basis for company codes, social quality initiatives, and social standards.

 Social Accountability International (SAI) works to protect the integrity of workers around the world by building local capacity and developing systems of accountability through socially responsible standards. The SA8000 standard is a tool for implementing international labor standards. SA8000 guides employers to consider the importance of each job and to recognize the equal dignity of each person involved in the supply chain - from the worker to the retailer to the consumer.

• Occupational Health and Safety Management System (OHSMS) promotes a safe and healthy working environment by providing a framework that allows organizations to consistently identify and control their health and safety risks, reduce the potential for accidents, aid legislative compliance and improve overall performance. OHSAS 18001 is the internationally recognized assessment specification for occupational health and safety management systems. OHSAS 18001 has been designed to be compatible with ISO 9001 and ISO 14001, to help organizations meet their health and safety obligations in an efficient manner.

• The BRC Global Standards are widely used by suppliers and global retailers. They facilitate standardization of quality, safety, operational criteria and manufacturers’ fulfillment of legal obligations. Certification to a Global Standard reassures retailers and branded manufacturers of the capability and competence of the supplier, and reduces the need for retailers and manufacturers to carry out their own audits, thereby reducing the administrative burden on both the supplier and the customer.

 The Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI) is a business-driven initiative for companies committed to improving working conditions in the global supply chain. BSCI was launched as a service of the Foreign Trade Association (FTA). Its founding was established as a response to the increasing business demand for transparent and improved working conditions in the global supply chain. BSCI is a service open to all retail, brand and importing companies committed to improving working conditions in the global supply chain.

• Fairtrade is an alternative approach to conventional trade and is based on a partnership between producers and consumers. Fairtrade offers producers a better deal and improved terms of trade. The Standards are designed to address the imbalance of power in trading relationships, unstable markets and the injustices of conventional trade. The FAIRTRADE Certification Mark is a registered trademark of Fairtrade International (FLO). It certifies that products meet the social, economic and environmental standards set by Fairtrade. The Mark certifies products not companies. It does not cover the companies or organizations selling the products.