Protecting forest workers’ rights
Protecting workers’ rights, according to the International Labour Standards, has always been part of FSC’s certification requirements for more than 1,700 forest management certified operations. These requirements include fundamental elements on the effective abolition of child labour, elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labour, the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation, respect of freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining.
Principle 2 of FSC’s Principles and Criteria for Forest Stewardship is dedicated to safeguarding the protection of workers by specifically upholding their rights and maintaining or enhancing their social and economic welfare.
Ensuring worker benefits
Forest workers are one of the groups of beneficiaries of forest management certification because they provide for their families’ livelihoods from their work in forestry.
For example, wages for people working in certified forests must meet or exceed minimum or living wages and workers receive job-specific training so that they can effectively contribute to the implementation of the forest management activities and increase their safety and motivation.
FSC also requires that certified forest operations protect their workers by implementing health and safety practices which meet or exceed the recommendations of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Code of Practice on Safety and Health in Forestry Work.
Human rights and gender equality
FSC certification also assists the forest sector in respecting and applying human rights and providing other benefits for forest dependent people such as gender equality.
Since 2012, FSC requires that certified operations promote gender equality in employment practices and training opportunities for staff, and to provide confidential and effective mechanisms to report and eliminate cases of sexual harassment and discrimination based on gender, marital status, parenthood or sexual orientation of forest workers.
FSC is currently streamlining and reaffirming the scope of workers’ rights protection in all FSC-certified businesses around the world.
In August 2017, FSC achieved a major milestone when the Board of Directors agreed to include ILO Core Labour Conventions for all FSC certified businesses, thereby also putting workers’ rights on the agenda in over 45,000 chain of custody certified businesses.
In January 2021, FSC reached another important milestone when FSC Board of Directors approved the FSC Core Labour Requirements within the FSC Chain of Custody Normative Framework. With this new step, the principles of the ILO’s Core Conventions and the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights of Work (1998) are integrated into FSC’s Chain of Custody Standards.
The revised FSC Chain of Custody standards (FSC-STD-40-004 & FSC-STD-20-011) now include the FSC Core Labour Requirements, which are auditable social compliance requirements. Key elements of the requirements are below:
FSC-STD-40-004 V3-1 Chain of Custody Certification now includes:
- abolition of child labour, elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labour, elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation, respect of freedom of association, and effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining.
- adopting and implementing policy statement(s) that encompass the FSC Core Labour Requirements.
- demonstrating compliance through certification with other social certifications.
- an option for other organizations such as certification bodies to submit certification schemes which comply to the FSC Core Labour Requirements.
- incorporating a risk-based approach via self-assessments in which organizations describe how they apply the requirements to their operations.
FSC-STD-20-011 V4-2 Chain of Custody Evaluations now includes:
- additional interview requirements for certification bodies/auditors to conduct interviews with representatives.
- a requirement for certification bodies/auditors to verify that the certificate holder has adopted and implemented the policy statement(s).
- a requirement for certification bodies to design and implement a system for auditors to evaluate the organization’s self-assessment and their conformity to the FSC core labour requirements.
Training for Chain of Custody certificate holders on workers’ rights
Aware of the implications of the changes made in the Chain of Custody standards, FSC is in the process of creating a training framework on labour rights for certified companies. This training envisages to explain FSC’s Core Labour Requirements to certified companies and stakeholders.
Membership participation is encouraged
If you are an FSC Member and wish to contribute your thoughts or ideas for improvement on labour issues please sign up to our member’s portal here.
Responsible consumption and production
Do you have a story about how FSC certification brought about positive change to your business, government or community? We'd love to hear from you.