21:32:18 local time CHINA
* Searching for the Union- The workers’ movement in China 2011-13:
China’s workers have emerged over the last few years as a strong, unified and increasingly active collective force. Workers have time and again demonstrated the will and the ability to stand up to abusive and arrogant managements and to demand better pay and working conditions.
However, workers are still hampered by the lack of an effective trade union that can maintain solidarity, bargain directly with managements and protect labour leaders from reprisals. As a result, workers are turning to labour rights groups that can advise and support their collective actions while, at the same time, demanding more of the official trade union and putting pressure on it to change.
In China labour Bulletin’s new research report on the workers’ movement, published today, we examine this evolving relationship between the workers, the trade union and civil society and look at how the government is struggling to respond to rapid social and economic change.
read more & download the report here.
20:32:18 local time VIET NAM
* Vinatex IDC begins construction of new garment factory:
20:32:18 local time CAMBODIA
* GMAC warns of factory closures if unionists insist on $160 per month:
The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) warned that 80 percent of factories would be closed if union leaders still lead the protests, demanding the minimum wage of USD160 per month.
“If labor union groups still lead protest to demand $160 per month for workers, the factory employers would not afford such demands, and 80 percent of the factories would be closed, while some would move to other countries,” Van Sou Ieng, GMAC’s President, said Thursday.
* Hun Sen Adds Armed Forces Chiefs to Strike Committee:
Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday appointed the chiefs of the national police, military police, and military to the government’s Committee to Solve Strikes and Demonstrations of All Targets, which is tasked with dealing with protests.
The decision, which came the same day as senior government ministers met with global clothing brands H&M, Gap, and Puma over the lethal repression of a strike by garment workers last month, will bring the size of the committee to 49.
Among the new members of the reshuffle of the protest committee, which previously only featured lower-ranking representatives of the various armed forces, will be Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) commander-in-chief Pol Saroeun, National Military Police commander Sao Sokha, and National Police chief Neth Savoeun.
“It’s a good sign that the heads of the various armed forces are now direct members of the committee,” he said. “The Labor Ministry only has jurisdiction over the Labor Law. The police and other armed forces are responsible for maintaining public order, and when a strike moves out of the factory into a public place, you need them control law and order.”
Twenty-one protesters remain incarcerated at a high-security prison in Kompong Cham province after being beaten and arrested by military and military police while taking part in last month’s strike by garment workers.
Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union, which took part in leading the nationwide strike last month and has called for another next month, said the move was part of an ongoing program to scare garment workers.
“This is a new government measure to break the spirit of workers,” he said. “The committee is a strong obstruction for the workers, because the influence of the armed forces will cause them…to not dare to protest to demand to raise their wages.”
* Gov’t Seeks To Increase Exports Outside Garments:
Commerce Minister Sun Chanthol on Thursday presided over the launch of the country’s second Export Diversification and Expansion Program, which provides financial support to the government to help increase exports in goods other than garments.
The program, which is funded by the Enhanced Integrated Framework, a World Trade Organization initiative, will finance projects supporting the export of marine fish and cassava, as well as training in tourism.
More than $6 million will be spent on the projects over the three years, said Pan Sorasak, a secretary of state at the Commerce Ministry, helping to break Cambodia’s reliance on the export of garments, which brought in more than $5 billion last year.
* Global unions and brands meet with Cambodian government:
Global unions and a number of international brands have met with the Cambodian government to discuss the situation in the country’s garment industry following police violence that left four workers dead.
The violent end to the strike of Cambodian garment workers, rallying for an increased minimum wage in January, left four people dead, 39 injured and 23 workers imprisoned. Recently two workers were released. Of the remaining 21 detainees, 16 are on hunger strike.
IndustriALL Global Union and the ITUC were joined by brands including H&M and Puma in the talks with the Cambodian government in Phnom Penh on Wednesday 19 February.
The unions released a statement following the meeting. It read, “We can confirm that on Wednesday 19 February, a delegation representing 30 global brands and global trade unions met with H.E. Keat Chhon, Permanent Deputy Prime Minister of Cambodia and high level representation from the Royal Cambodian Government.
“The meeting was called by the Cambodian government, in response to a request by the group in a letter sent on 17th January. In that letter, the brands and trade unions expressed their concerns with respect to treatment of Cambodian garment workers some of whom have been killed or wounded and others who have been detained by security forces.
“The meeting was held as an open and frank exchange during which the government shared their perspective on the situation and the actions already being taken.
During the meeting the following key points were discussed.
* Cambodia – tentative steps towards constructive dialogue:
On 19 February global unions and major apparel brands met with the Cambodian government to discuss a minimum wage reform, trade union legislation and the 21 imprisoned workers.
The meeting in Phnom Penh was hosted by Deputy Prime Minister Keat Chhon, with several ministers including the Ministers of Labour and Commerce and other senior government officials present. IndustriALL Global Union and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) were joined by H&M, Inditex, Gap, C&A and Puma.
IndustriALL’s general secretary Jyrki Raina was cautiously optimistic after the meeting:
“There was some indication of what the government intends to do over the coming period, and there was a commitment of continuing the discussions with the brands and the global unions. We however cannot underestimate the challenges that lie ahead.”
Cambodia’s garment industry has grown rapidly and makes up 80 per cent of the country’s exports. Low wages and government incentives for businesses have seen a boom in the industry worth some 5 billion US dollars per year, while living standards for workers have improved slowly.
19:32:18 local time BANGLADESH
* ILO: Union registrations rise in RMG sector:
Since amendments to the Bangladesh Labour Act were made last July, there has been a dramatic increase in registering of new unions in the RMG sector, the ILO said in a press release
Union registrations in Bangladesh’s readymade garments (RMG) sector rose sharply last year, reflecting a significant progress in improving workplace conditions and strengthening workers’ rights in line with the country’s new labour law, the country head of the International Labour Organisation said yesterday.
“Working conditions and workers’ rights issues are receiving high priority in Bangladesh,” ILO Country Director Srinivas Reddy said at the closing session of a two-day training on Bangladesh’s labour law.
About 30 officials from the labour department attended the training that focussed on a 2013 amendment to the law. The ILO and the Department of Labour arranged the programme.
Reddy said working conditions in the RMG sector would only improve when workers’ rights were respected.
“Your actions can help create better, safer working conditions. Ultimately, this will increase investor confidence, bring more business and jobs to Bangladesh,” he said.
Since amendments to the Bangladesh Labour Act were made last July, there has been a dramatic increase in registering of new unions in the RMG sector, the ILO said in a press release.
read more. & read more.
* Inspectors find gross flaws in fire, safety standards:
Global clothing inspectors have found gross flaws in fire, electrical safety and potential structural problems in their initial sample inspection, Washington Post reported on Wednesday.
Pilot inspections at 10 textile plants in Bangladesh showed a common set of problems, an inspector, who is involved in the work, told the Post Wednesday.
The global inspectors including engineers have begun a systematic look this week at some 1,800 readymade garment (RMG) factories used by 150 international retailers and clothing brands which have signed the agreement.
“It is a small sample, but it gives us a pretty good indication of what we are going to find. There are some common elements,” Brad Loewen, chief inspector of the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh told the Washington Post.
“Fire exits are typically not separated from the rest of the buildings, leaving those inside exposed to heat, flames and smoke as they try to escape, rather than providing a safe passage out,” he said preferring anonymity.
* Retail group ramps up inspections of Bangladesh textile plants:
Sample inspections of textile plants in Bangladesh indicate widespread fire, electrical safety and potential structural problems, according to the top safety official overseeing an effort by clothing retailers to improve conditions after a series of deadly industrial accidents in the country last year.
Brad Loewen, chief inspector of the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, said pilot inspections at 10 plants showed a common set of problems he expects to recur as engineering teams begin a systematic look this week at some 1,800 factories used by the 150 international retailers and clothing brands who have joined the agreement.
Fire exits, he said, are typically not separated from the rest of the building, leaving those inside exposed to heat, flames and smoke as they try to escape, rather than providing a protected passage out. Electrical systems have been expanded over time in a helter-skelter way, increasing the risk of fire. The buildings themselves often don’t match the plans on file with the government, making it uncertain whether foundations are adequate to support the size of the structures as built.
* Interview: How the Bangladesh Accord is tackling unsafe factories:
As safety inspections on more than 1,500 garment factories supplying a group of mainly European retailers get underway this week, just-style speaks with Brad Loewen, the top safety official overseeing the effort.
Poor building construction and inadequate fire safety infrastructure are still putting Bangladesh garment factory workers at risk, according to initial inspections led by Brad Loewen, chief safety inspector for the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh.
Loewen, a Canadian, is leading the team that will inspect 1,500 factories this year – with work due to begin this week – identifying ways that brands and factory owners can improve workplace safety in an industry plagued with factory fires and collapses.
* Time for RMG to transform itself:
Economists, industrialists and politicians called Thursday for transformation of the garment industry and increasing its productivity to overcome the challenges the sector faces.
They also observed that a successful transformation can not only enhance the competitiveness of the country’s readymade garment (RMG) sector in the global clothing market but also make it more sustainable.
The call was made at a dialogue on “Bangladesh’s Garment Sector: Upgradation and Structural Transformation” organised by Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) at a city hotel.
Distinguished Fellow of the CPD Dr. Debapriya Bhattacharya moderated the roundtable discussion where the discussants focused on taking a combined effort by both the government and the industry players in this regard.
* RMG sector at crossroads:
Ungradation, transformation required to ensure growth, experts say at CPD dialogue
Experts at a programme on Thursday said that the garment sector in Bangladesh was at a crossroads and it was the right time for an upgradation and structural transformation of the sector to ensure sustainable growth.
At a dialogue organised by Centre for Policy Dialogue, they said the volume of the Bangladesh garment sector was bigger than that of 90 countries in total, but the country’s RMG sector had faced a number of challenges in home and abroad due to recent factory disasters.
‘The need for upgradation and transformation of the garment sector was felt after Rana Plaza building collapse and Tazreen Fashions fire as the two major incidents have created image crisis for the sector across the world,’ CPD distinguished fellow Debapriya Bhattacharya said at the programme held at Ruposhi Bangla Hotel in the city.
* $30b garment exports hinge on tech upgrade:
Analysts also stress improving workers’ productivity
Bangladesh will not be able to raise its garment exports to $30 billion by 2015 and $50 billion by 2021 without improving workers’ productivity and upgrading technology, analysts said yesterday.
“The garment sector is going through a transition. Its restructure has become very essential,” said Debapriya Bhattacharya, distinguished fellow of the Centre for Policy Dialogue.
“Developing the capacity of workers would play a key role in this restructure and modernisation process. It will strengthen the country’s competitiveness, helping the sector advance further in the coming days.”
His suggestions were endorsed by Ludovico Alcorta, a director of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, and Christopher M Woodruff, an economics professor at University of Warwick in the UK.
* Major risks to RMG involve restructuring issues other than political crisis:
Major risks to sustainability and steady growth of the country’s readymade garment (RMG) industry involve proper and timely restructuring of this sector, participants at a high-profile consultation said on Thursday.
The participants including policy-makers, economists, industry experts, apparel exporters and representatives of development partners suggested focusing on restructuring issues, which they believe would be more difficult to address than the ongoing and future political crisis.
The participants in their deliberations recommended major agenda for restructuring, putting productivity, quality and compliance issues on the forecourt to make the country’s garment sector competitive and sustainable.
Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) in association with London- based DFID- ESRC Growth Research Programme (DEGRP) organised the programme on upgradation and structural transformation of garment sector.
* Mozena talks tough against defiant RMG owners:
Proper implementation of labour law emphasised
US Ambassador in Dhaka Dan W Mozena on Thursday said the defiant owners of the readymade garment (RMG) who are ‘unwilling’ to meet the international safety and labour rights standards should ‘close and leave’ their businesses to keep the vibrant export-earning sector free from further risk.
“I think they’ve no right to make their profits by exploiting their workers, thus putting the entire sector at risk as inevitable future Tazreen Fashions and Rana Plaza disasters destroy the Bangladesh Brand,” he said.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* US envoy urges errant RMG unit owners to shut and quit business:
US ambassador in Bangladesh Dan Mozena Thursday advised the ready-made garments (RMG) makers, who are not willing to meet the international safety standards and labour rights, to shut their factories and quit business.
The US envoy also called upon Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) to ensure that all the factory owners become a part of the sector’s transformation in order to help Bangladesh become global model for apparel production and export.
“Those owners who are unwilling to meet international safety and labour rights standards should ‘close and leave’ the sector,” Mr Mozena said at the concluding session of the two-day training programme titled ‘Bangladesh Labour Law (Focusing on the 2013 Amendment)’ participated by 30 Bangladesh Department of Labour (DoL) officials. It was jointly organised by International Labour Organisation (ILO) and DoL in the capital.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* 6 N’ganj factories fined Tk53 lakh:
The Department of Environment (DoE) on Wednesday realised Tk 53 lakh in fine from six washing and dyeing factories in Fatullah of Narayanganj Sadar upazila on charge of polluting environment.
The DoE fined Moon Knitwear and Composite Ltd, Prime K0nit Dyeing, Madina Dyeing, Hossain Washing Plant, Amin Washing and NA Washing in Idrakpur, Isdair and Baroibhog areas Tk 31 lakh, Tk10 lakh, Tk 5 lakh, Tk 6 lakh, Tk 50,000 and Tk 50,000 respectively for polluting environment through using faulty effluent treatment plants (ETPs).
After a hearing at the DoE headquarters in the capital, its director (monitoring and enforcement) M Alamgir slapped the fine on the six factories for treating the waste with defective ETPs.
Representatives of the six factories were present at the hearing when they confessed to the offence.
* RMG machinery imports fall 23% in January:
‘After the Rana Plaza incident, I lost my interest to establish a new factory. I was frightened’
The capital machinery imports of Bangladesh’s garment sector declined over 23% in January, shrinking the figure to $23m from $30m last year.
According to the industry insiders, political unrest and labour rights issue disrupted the sector’s expansion plans, which made the capital machinery imports fall.
The total import in 2013 fell 13.5% to $310m from $359m in 2012, said Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).
* GSP suspension-hit exporters to get govt incentives : Muhith:
Finance Minister AMA Muhith said Thursday the government will provide incentives to the export-oriented industries that have been affected by the suspension of the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) facilities by the US.
“We have made allocation for incentives for the affected exporting sectors and it will be announced shortly,” the Finance Minister said.
He, however, said the country’s export sector has been affected badly following the suspension of GSP.
* GSP related letter to US by Apr 15:
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed categorically said that the commerce ministry would send letter to USA government regarding Generalized System of Preference (GSP) by April 15.
He came up with the disclosure in a city hotel on Thursday.
Minister said, “We import very few goods under the GSP privilege. But still, we are working hard to get back the privilege for the sake of image of our business.’
read more. & read more.
* BD pays 9 times revenue to US compared to annual aid:
Bangladesh pays almost nine times in revenue to the United States compared to the bilateral aid it received, according to the US government statistics, reports BSS.
Bangladesh’s apparel exports will fetch revenue of almost a billion US dollars this year, while US bilateral aid to Bangladesh amounts to US$126 million annually. This, too, is not fully utilised, every year, the official figures reveal.
read more. & read more.
THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE
* Rana Plaza compensation arrangement needs brands’ commitment:
The one-year anniversary of the Rana Plaza industrial homicide is approaching on 24 April. Only four brands have joined the Rana Plaza Arrangement, an ILO-led initiative to pay compensation to the injured and victims’ families.
Consumers around the world will be disgusted to know that this long list of brands connected with Rana Plaza is still refusing to join the Arrangement: Adler, Auchan, Benetton, Camaieu, Carrefour, Carrona, Cato Fashions, Children’s Place, JC Penney, Kids for Fashion, Lee Cooper, Manifattura Corona, Mango, Matalan, NKD, Premier Clothing, PVT (Texman), Store 21, Yes Zee, Walmart.
If a majority of these brands refuse to pay what they owe, the US$40 million needed for compensation in line with ILO standards will not be collected.
Well-known high-street brand Primark, based in Ireland, has played a leading role in the industry’s response to Rana Plaza. Primark paid the stopgap salaries to all 3,600 workers of Rana Plaza for the six months following the collapse, plus a further three months. Primark has also been an important partner in establishing the Rana Plaza Coordination Committee and the Arrangement framework. However, after months of joint work with the highest possible level of guidance from the ILO and UN international experts, Primark is now wavering.
Primark’s initial work in response to the Rana Plaza collapse was positive, including considerable humanitarian relief and work on the ground with the IndustriALL affiliated United Federation of Garment Workers.
IndustriALL Global Union Assistant General Secretary Monika Kemperle stated:
“Only three brands connected with Rana Plaza have paid into the fund. We implore the rest to pay up now.
We urge people to write on their Facebook pages, write on the websites of their national media, and mobilise at the stores of these companies. It is time to name, shame and campaign.
On 24 April, one year will have passed since the horror of Rana Plaza. No more excuses. The fund is set up, the management of the fund is reliable, and every part of the mechanism has been negotiated and agreed by all concerned.
The support and commitment from all the major stakeholders has been attained.
The only outstanding action now is for the brands to pay. The necessary total of US$40 million is realistic. We need all supporters of this initiative to exert their strong influence over these image-conscious clothing companies.”
19:02:18 local time INDIA
* Surat textile industry hopes for stability in AP:
Once a major market for the Surat-based synthetic textile industry, the state split of Andhra Pradesh (AP) has brought down sales to the southern state by almost 70 per cent.
As against an average annual turnover of roughly Rs 3600 crore through textile trading between Surat and AP, the split has brought the numbers down to around Rs 600-700 crore. Textile players in Surat hope the situation improves till Pongal which happens to be a major supply season to the southern state.
According to Surat-based textile traders, currently, they are not even doing 25 per cent of the normal business that they used to do with Andhra Pradesh. Surat textile industry’ daily business with Andhra Pradesh used to be Rs 9 to 10 crore every day, which has now come to Rs . 2-3 crore as on date due to Telangana crisis. This, on an annual basis, tends to be around Rs 3600 crore which is now around Rs 700-1000 crore.
* ‘Indian garment exports on track to achieve $17bn target’:
* ‘Cotton to add value to Indian textile sector’ – Gherzi:
“Indian textile industry can bank on a very strong cotton sector and this raw material will be the base for the added value which will be built in the Indian textile sector in the next few years”, said Mr Giuseppe Gherzi – Managing Partner of Switzerland based Gherzi Textil Organisation AG on the sidelines of a textile conference.
Mr. Gherzi was in Ahmedabad recently to deliver the keynote address at the inaugural session of the Textile Investment Conclave hosted by the Confederation of Indian Textile Industry (CITI). The Gherzi Group has been present in India since 1960, with its head-office based in Mumbai and has therefore an in-depth understanding of the Indian as well as international situation.
When asked as to how much the Indian textile industry would progress in the next five years, Mr Gherzi exclusively told fibre2fashion, “Indian textile industry can bank on a very strong cotton sector and this raw material will be the base for the added value which will be built in the Indian textile sector in the next few years. Cotton ginning is competitive and spinning will become stronger, with value additions in weaving, finishing and garmenting gaining strength.
19:02:18 local time SRI LANKA
* Ansell workers rally and show strength in Sri Lanka:
Dismissed workers at Ansell Lanka have marched on the streets of the Biyagama free trade zone in Sri Lanka to show they will not give up until they are reinstated. IndustriALL demands government mediation after the Supreme Court instructed Ansell to find a settlement with the union.
294 workers in Biyagama, one of Sri Lanka’s Free Trade Zones, are living a hard life. The workers were fired in October last year when striking in support of 11 sacked colleagues and trade union representatives at Australian multinational Ansell, maker of surgical and industrial gloves. Four months of unemployment is taking its toll on the workers.
Athula Kamal, branch president of IndustriALL Global Union’s Sri Lankan affiliate, the Free Trade Zones and General Services Employees Union (FTZGSEU), has worked at Ansell for more than 20 years as a machine operator. In 2013 he was summarily fired. The only reason given for the sacking was telling the police that management was involved when two men on a motorbike assaulted him.
* Global trade unionist wants labour law loopholes closed:
Despite Sri Lanka having a strong culture of unions, a leading international trade union leader yesterday called for improved labour laws in line with global standards to improve rankings.
Global Union Federation-Industriall (GUFI) General Secretary Yruki Raina on a short visit to Sri Lanka met with Labour and Labour Relations Deputy Minister Rear Admiral Dr. Sarath Weerasekara last morning and also met President Mahinda Rajapaksa for talks on bolstering worker rights.
Raina, who noted that his task was to deliver a message to the President and Labour Ministry that the world is watching, listed the issues of freedom of association, casualisation of workforce and difficulties that arise between multinational companies and employers as key concerns.
Under the question of freedom of association, Raina noted that even though laws have been made to facilitate this, the right of workers to join a union of their choice in practice doesn’t happen.
* Apparel sector to conserve energy:
Sri Lanka’s apparel sector is to commence a programme to promote energy conservation in the sector with the aim of minimizing costs and increasing profits in the sector.
The programme to promote energy conservation is to be launched by the IFC, which is a member of the World Bank Group together with Sri Lanka’s Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF).
A recent investment-grade energy audit of seven apparel factories has reportedly projected an electricity savings potential of 10 to 50% if conservation methods are adopted.
Additionally, if all identified energy conservation measures are implemented by the audited factories, carbon dioxide emissions can be reduced by approximately 16% annually.
The audit has also highlighted the benefits of using renewable energy applications like biomass and rooftop solar systems.
18:32:18 local time PAKISTAN
* Textile exporters dive into capacity tax controversy:
The capacity tax controversy surrounding the beverage industry became an embarrassment for the government on Thursday as cash-strapped textile exporters questioned the way economic affairs are being run in the country.
Holding press clippings, major exporters, who met Commerce Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan at the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) office, linked the subject to their own financial woes.
“We are tired of waiting,” said Shabbir Ahmed, Pakistan Bedwear Exporters’ Association chairman. “Refunds worth billions of rupees are stuck with the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) but no one is ready to even listen to us.”
“On the other hand, government officials have all the time to listen to beverage makers who have caused a shortfall of Rs7 billion in tax collection.”
* Textile exports up 7.6% in 7 months, 3.6% in January:
Exports of textile products from the country witnessed positive growth of 7.59 percent during the first seven months of the current fiscal year when compared to the corresponding period of last year.
The overall textile exports from the country were recorded at $8.035 billion during July-January (2013-14) as compared to the exports of $7.468 billion during July-January (2012-13), according to the latest data of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS). The textile products that witnessed positive growth in trade included raw cotton, exports of which increased by 70.21 percent by surging from $90.506 million last year to $154.047 million during current year.
The exports of cotton cloth increased from $1,528.455 million last year to $1,644.974 million during current year, showing an increase of 7.62 percent while the exports of cotton (carded or combed) increased by 460 percent, from $0.596 million to $2.336 million.
read more. & read more.
* Textile mills to get gas in Punjab:
Punjab’s textile mills will start getting six-hour gas and 18-hour electricity supply from Feb 21.
“The timely intervention by the government will secure jobs of hundreds and thousands of textile workers and fetch $10 million per day exports for the country,” said All-Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) Punjab Chairman S M Tanveer at a news conference on Wednesday.
* The International Labour Organization and Corporate Social Responsibility:
According to The Body Shop founder Anita Roddick, “The business of business should not just be about money, it should be about responsibility. It should be about public good, not private greed.”
One of the central questions in the debate about corporate social responsibility (CSR) is whether the ‘public good’ is defined by private or public actors and processes.
Most definitions of CSR appear to support the former position. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), “CSR is a voluntary, enterprise-driven initiative and refers to activities that are considered to exceed compliance with the law.”
The norms contained in CSR codes are directly inspired by public (international) law. Typically they refer to labour standards, human rights, environmental standards, corruption, competition, taxation etc. This does not mean, however, that companies are bound by the same obligations as states.
The convenience hypothesis holds that companies appropriate public norms in their CSR policies, but are subsequently free to define and interpret them as they please. These self-definitions can even contradict international standards.
The ‘International Operating Principles’ of Sara Lee Knit Products (SLKP), for instance, provided that: “SLKP believes in a union-free environment, except where laws and cultures require us to do otherwise.”
But even with less hostile references to freedom of association it is often unclear what the normative commitments of the company are.