Certainly, this year´s International Workers’ Day celebrations will be shaped by the downturn in the global economy with many jobs lost, at least temporarily. It is good that countries are taking measures to save lives by imposing restrictions on our daily lives, but the consequences for workers around the world are very serious. As I reflect on this situation, it gives me great encouragement to know how FSC certificate holders are seeking to protect the welfare of their workers, and how they have put in place health and safety requirements to enable their workers to stay healthy.
Covid-19 is putting the world economy under great pressure but it is also offering us a great, global lesson on how to work together to manage crises. And crises are likely to reoccur because of new zoonosis, or because of the slower but equally dangerous effects of climate change and biodiversity loss from over-exploitation of natural resources like forests.
Part of the necessary response to crises is to uphold occupational health and safety measures for workers in the forest products sector. FSC´s standards mandate that worker´s rights must always be upheld and protected. Therefore we have defined a set of core labour requirements that cover the fundamental principles of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Core Conventions. These are freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining; elimination of all forms of forced labour or compulsory labour; effective abolition of child labour, and the elimination of discrimination in respect to employment and occupation.
FSC has begun adding these core labour requirements into the key chain of custody standard used by over 40,000 companies worldwide, a first and bold move in the forest products sector.
As with all FSC standards, a public consultation process took place in March and April, with a second round prepared for mid-year.
Some important key considerations are being consulted. One of these is that companies maintain up-to-date self-assessments to describe how the company applies the FSC core labour requirements in its operations. Self-assessment will enable the companies to measure their performance against our core requirements, hence enabling important continuous improvements for workers in chain of custody operations.
As we join millions of people globally in celebrating 2020´s International Workers’ Day under these special circumstances, I ask our members and certificate holders to keep in mind the importance of the process that FSC has begun. I encourage all to participate in the next round of consultations to help shape FSC´s standards and certification process to ensure decent and sustainable work at the chain of custody level.