It is not only important to have binding mandatory EU rules on due diligence and sustainable corporate governance, but we must also train our employee representatives to make sure that they can use this important tool in their daily work.
Some 80 participants from over 20 different European trade unions came together today and yesterday, 4 and 5 March, in an online event to discuss ‘Company Due Diligence and non-financial information: threats or new leverages for workers’ representatives?’. The event was organised in cooperation with the consultancy firm Syndex.
Human rights due diligence, in essence, involves the actions taken by a company to identify and act on actual and potential human rights risks for workers in its own operations, supply chains and the services it uses. A strong added value is the emphasis for prevention. The tool of non-financial reporting requires large companies to disclose certain information on how they manage social and environmental challenges.
IndustriAll Europe General Secretary, Luc Triangle stated:
"It is not only important to have binding mandatory EU rules on due diligence and sustainable corporate governance, but we must also train our employee representatives to make sure that they can use this important tool in their daily work. Moreover, we need to know what kind of concerns or expectations they have."
Over the course of two days, the participants gained insights into the mechanisms of due diligence and the various aspects of a sustainable corporate governance. On Friday morning, participants debated the political framework of due diligence in two panel discussions and reflected on ways towards a binding European legislation. They also discussed how a binding UN Treaty on business and human rights could support due diligence and non-financial reporting of companies. Panelists included Gerald Kreuzer (PRO-GE), chair of industriAll Europe’s TCLF network; Paul Nemitz, principal adviser at DG Justice of the European Commission; Kemal Özkan, Assistant General Secretary of IndustriALL Global Union and Helmut Scholz (GUE/NGL), Member of the European Parliament. A keynote speech was delivered by Isabelle Schömann, ETUC confederal secretary.
IndustriAll Europe underlined the need for mandatory due diligence in order to commit companies to respect fundamental human and workers’ rights all along their supply chains. Voluntary initiatives have so far failed. IndustriAll Europe is committed to ensuring that there will be an ambitious binding legislative initiative on due diligence with effective commitment on standards. The focus must be on the respect of workers’ and trade union rights, as well as other human rights.
With the European Commission in the process of preparing an EU legislative initiative on sustainable corporate governance, our event took place at an opportune moment. The European Commission’s plan comes after decades of heated debate on the need to revise the corporate governance model of companies in Europe. The revised model will depart from a short-term financial outlook, aimed at serving the sole interest of shareholders, to embrace a long-term sustainable strategic management of companies for the benefit of all stakeholders.The European Commission’s plan comes after decades of heated debates on the need to revise the corporate governance model of companies in Europe to depart from a short-term financial outlook aimed at serving the sole interest of shareholders, to embrace a long-term sustainable strategic management of companies to the benefit of all stakeholders.
IndustriAll Europe has contributed by responding to the public consultation with its own position to strengthen the employee position in this debate.
At industriAll Europe, we encourage trade unionists and citizens from across Europe to keep getting involved and to join the call for strong corporate governance rules in the EU.