World Day Against Child Labour (12 June) saw consumer co-ops highlight their work to tackle human rights violations.
The annual event was set up to raise awareness of the global problem of child labour and the action and efforts needed to eliminate it. The ILO estimates 152 million children across the world are still in child labour, with almost half – 73 million – working in hazardous conditions.
In a position paper published in October 2018, Euro Coop, which represents consumer co-operatives in Europe, showed how its members are fighting child labour and making their supply chains more sustainable.
Actions include choosing to go for moral compliance instead of just legal compliance; signing up to international initiatives to strengthen the respect of human rights within the global supply chain; pioneering responsible sourcing and Fairtrade; and carrying out internal and external audits and reporting, public campaigning and internal trainings.
Related: UK’s Co-op Group backs stricter enforcement of the Modern Slavery Act
In a statement issued on 12 June, Euro Coop president Mathias Fiedler said: “As enterprises which base their operations on a set of well-known and recognised values and principles – among which are social responsibility and caring for others – consumer co-operatives are, of course, at the forefront of action when it comes to making their supply chains more socially sustainable and, thus, tackling thorny and endemic issues like child labour.
“This translates into a common understanding that the three dimensions of sustainability – environmental, economic and social – cannot exist in isolation and need to be furthered together.”
Mr Fiedler added that there is a need for shared responsibility at all levels to bring structural change, and called on the broader international community to speak out more bluntly on the issue of child labour.
“Consumer co-operatives do a tremendous work in this respect, but the tide needs to be turned in order for systemic change to happen,” he said.
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