Posted by Stuart Bell

Ergon Update: May 2018

This Update contains news of our latest events, publications and projects in support of labour standards and human rights.

Forthcoming events and training
Business and human rights in the Americas: breakfast briefing

There is a range of business and human rights developments across the Americas, from Boston to Bogota to Buenos Aires. In this breakfast briefing we will be joined by our colleagues from Ergon Americas in New York to work through some of the thematic issues and challenges, ranging from the regulatory and political context in the USA and Canada, through to the impacts of drug-related violence in Mexico and Central America and working on Indigenous People’s issues in the Andean countries. As with all Ergon events, this will be an interactive, engaged discussion, so bring your information, ideas, questions and answers.
Details: Thursday June 7th 2018 at 08.30am in Spitalfields in Central London. You can sign up here.

Human rights due diligence training

We are about to start a new cycle of immersive human rights due diligence training for the Ethical Trading Initiative in London. This three-day professional development programme is a practical, interactive way to develop the skills and knowledge needed to identify, understand and act on human rights risks. The course dates are: 15th  May,  7th  June, 3rd July. There is also a programme starting in September. Receive a 15% discount on the full price if you quote the code ERGON when you book.

New publications
United Bid Human Rights Assessment

The international football body, FIFA, has published Ergon’s independent assessment of human rights in Canada, the USA, and Mexico. We produced this as part of these countries’ joint bid for the FIFA World Cup 2026. The assessment, along with a human rights action plan, is required from prospective bidders following changes to FIFA’s bidding regulations. Contact Steve Gibbons  or Anne-Marie Lévesque for more details.

Selected current projects
Surveying core labour standards in 29 countries

Ergon has been awarded a major new contract by the European Commission to conduct surveys on the application of core labour standards and working conditions in countries covered by commitments in GSP+ and in Free Trade and Investment Agreements. The project seeks to hasten real-time information flows on the application of core labour standards in 29 countries with existing trade relationships with the EU or involved in ongoing trade talks. The project is commissioned by the Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion (DG EMPL) and is financed under the EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation. For more information on the project, contact Alastair Usher.

Labour risk country profiles

We continue to build our resource base of detailed country labour profiles. We currently have detailed briefings on sectoral labour risks, labour laws, implementation and key stakeholders for more than 80 countries. These are used by banks, retailers and brands to inform their risk analysis and supplier engagement programmes. Contact Stuart Bell for more information.

Forced labour in agriculture

Ergon is working with partners Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) and UTZ (now merged with Rainforest Alliance) to design a methodology for improving forced labour assessment and detection in agricultural supply chains. The project is funded by the ISEAL Alliance Innovations Fund and is led by Brett Dodge.

Better supplier assurance tools

We have just completed an exercise evaluating more than 20 different ethical assessment methodologies, initiatives and tools for a UK supermarket. Each has been assessed against multiple criteria measuring their capacity to diagnose issues, foster collaboration, engage with workers, and provide clear outputs.

Assessing supplier capacity

For an on-line retailer, we are developing a tool that will allow the client to assess their suppliers’ capacity to implement ethical standards through their factory base. This focuses on the supplier’s own resources, their assessment processes and their ability to support factory improvements. The project is in pilot phase.

Labour standards in oil and gas

We are currently developing a series of practitioner notes and tools for IPIECA, the specialist oil and gas sustainability organisation, to support its members more effectively identify, prevent and mitigate labour rights risks within projects, operations and supply chains. Contact Matthew Waller for more.

Sharing learning
Employer-supported childcare

Kirsten Newitt is just back from Sarajevo where she presented key messages from IFC’s new flagship Tackling Childcare report (led by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research with research support from Ergon) to the regional launch for the Western Balkans. The event was attended by representatives of local businesses, civil society, and international organisations.

Labour issues in the oil and gas sector

Matthew Waller recently presented Ergon’s work for IPIECA on labour rights due diligence at the April Conference of the Society of Petroleum Engineers in Abu Dhabi.

Modern slavery reporting and action

Anne-Marie Lévesque spoke at a webinar on Human Trafficking & Slavery Reporting in April, alongside Paul Gerrard from the Co-op, organised by Assent Compliance. She presented Ergon research into how US companies are reporting on Modern Slavery. In March, Steve Gibbons facilitated an expert panel on ‘Turning talk into action to eradicate Modern Slavery and practical examples of beyond compliance’ at the annual Sedex conference.

Human rights due diligence

Ergon hosted a packed breakfast briefing at the end of February, exploring new trends in human rights due diligence including how to include business areas beyond supply chains. Laura Curtze and Steve Gibbons facilitated a panel at a recent seminar on business and human rights organised by the German Global Compact Network, the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles, and the Alliance for Integrity. Highlights are available here.

Welcoming new Ergon colleagues

We warmly welcome Estefania Murray to our New York office and Sam Kelly and Christoph Kühn as Ergon’s newest Researchers in London. Estefania is a qualified attorney and previously worked at the World Bank. Sam has worked on a range of academic research projects concerning international labour standards, while Christoph was with the German Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, where he was involved in the preparation of the German G20 Labour and Employment Ministerial Meeting. They are initially contributing to our major research project for the European Commission (see above).

We are currently recruiting for a new Researcher on Labour, Human Rights and Gender. for our London office. Closing date: 8 May.