Most corporate social responsibility work on wages has focused on whether a workplace meets a certain level of compensation, usually the legal minimum wage. But fairness of wages and, crucially, perception of wage fairness, are more complex than that. Even if a factory pays workers the national minimum wage and meets other legal requirements (e.g. pay the legally-required wage on time and in full; pay for the proper number of hours worked) it may nevertheless have unfair wages because of undue disparities in wages within the enterprise or because wages may not reflect worker productivity.
In February, FLA President & CEO Auret van Heerden participated in a workshop – Company Responsibilities in Countries with Human Rights Challenges – organized by the Business Humanitarian Forum and the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.
On April 12, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service announced the opening of the public comment period on recommendations – made by the Consultative Group to Eliminate the Use of Child Labor and Forced Labor in Imported Agricultural Products – for voluntary private-sector monitoring and verification of child labor and forced labor in supply chains.
The United Nations Global Compact recently launched the Human Rights and Business Dilemma Forum, an initiative designed to stimulate constructive discussion about perceived dilemmas that socially responsible multinational companies may face in their efforts to respect and support human rights when operating in emerging economies.
A recent survey by Oxfam Hong Kong showed that more than 81 percent of Hong Kong residents would be “less inclined to patronise a company that violated the rights and interests of its employees.” The survey comes just weeks before the statutory minimum wage goes into effect May 1. According to Oxfam, some companies may cancel paid meal breaks and eliminate rest days to counter the cost of paying the minimum wage.
The MFA Forum is wrapping up its work after more than 6 years of discussing and finalizing recommendations and examining the impact on apparel workers resulting from the end of the Multi-Fibre Arrangement quota system. As part of this group, FLA has worked with hundreds of other NGOs, trade unions, businesses, and others committed to promoting responsible competitiveness in key exporting countries in the expanding global marketplace.