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Weekly Update - 20 July 2016

Lead Story
Widespread denial of labour rights, including living wage, in footwear supply chains in Eastern Europe

Change Your Shoes Campaign; Berne Declaration 

Interviews with 179 shoe workers from factories in 6 countries - Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia - find most not paid minimum wage
  • we invited companies mentioned in the reports to respond - responses by adidas, Birkenstock, Clarks, ECCO, Euro Sko, Lowa, Manor, Migros, Nilson
  • Ara, Bally, Camper, CCC, El Naturalista, Ferragamo, Gabor, Geox, LederUndSchuh, Mango, Navyboot, Pasito-Fricker, Prada, Rieker, Tods, Wojas, Vögele did not respond
  • Bata, Deichmann have indicated they will respond
Romania: Authorities rescue chained-up workers in woodworking industry

Associated Press

  • victims kidnapped, chained, whipped & forced into manual labour for 8-year period
  • investigation involves some 90 suspects & 65 victims with physical & mental disabilities

(photo credit: Associated Press)
From us
Asia & Pacific
Europe & Central Asia
Middle East & No. Africa
From Business & Human Rights Resource Centre
Open-access registry for the Modern Slavery Act critical & urgent

Anti-Slavery Intl., Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, CORE Coalition, Ethical Trading Initiative, FLEX, Freedom Fund, Humanity United and KnowTheChain

  • key stakeholders consider a registry essential to enable public to review statements; discussing next steps
  • UK Govt. will not establish central registry, but agrees it would be valuable
Vacancy deadline extended to 22 Jul: Middle East Research & Outreach Assistant
UN Human Rights Council names Anita Ramasastry as member of UN Working Group on business & human rights
  • council also adopts resolutions on access to justice, civic space, climate change, creates new independent expert on sexual orientation & gender identity
US Govt. launches call to action for private sector engagement in global refugee crisis

The White House

  • founding companies: Accenture, Airbnb, Chobani, Coursera, Goldman Sachs, Google, HP, IBM, JPMorgan Chase, LinkedIn, Mastercard, Microsoft, TripAdvisor, UPS, Western Union
Civil society group calls on development banks to ensure activities are not putting human rights defenders at risk

Coalition for Human Rights in Development; SOMO

Further to previous Update: Facebook response to Access Now on steps to address digital rights (former company responses also available)

Further to previous Update: Facing Finance rejoinder to company comments on investigation of abuses by 20 firms
  • further responses by HSBC, Inditex, Total; Anglo American indicated it will respond
Kenya: Safaricom sued over alleged breach of privacy regarding leaked PIN numbers; includes company comments

Daily Nation

Uganda: Allocation of forest land to private investors - alleged land grabs, environmental & local water source damage

Earth Island Journal

Commentary: "How Kenya can avoid the many negative effects of coal mining"

Kathambi Kaaria, in Daily Nation

Uruguay: In case brought by Philip Morris, intl. tribunal rules govt. has right to protect public health through tobacco regulation

WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control; CorpWatch; Reuters

Canada: Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in First Nation sues Yukon province demanding consultation before mining exploration in traditional territory

CBC News 


Peru: Govt. wins arbitration against Renco’s Doe Run smelter that impacted local population’s health; company to refile case, claiming cleanup order excessive


Asia & Pacific
Vietnam: Formosa Steel admits toxic spill, offers USD 500 million compensation 

Radio Free Asia

  • money to compensate affected people, clean up environment & help fishermen find new jobs; critics say amount is not enough
Thailand: Villagers win pollution & lead poisoning lawsuit against Lead Concentrate after 13 years


Cambodia: Female garment workers allegedly vulnerable to unsafe abortions

Guardian (UK)

China: Transparency Intl. report ranks Chinese firms lowest for transparency in emerging markets; Indian firms ranked highest

Associated Press, on South China Morning Post; Global Times

India: Report alleges Airtel putting privacy of millions of web users at risk; company denies claim

India Today

Europe & Central Asia

Noticias de Navarra; Naiz

  • we invited Volkswagen to respond - response provided
Germany: While medium-sized companies support integration of refugees into labour market, top 30 firms encouraged to do more

Guardian (UK); Archy World News; Financial Times

  • survey finds top 30 firms employ just 54 refugees
EU court issues advisory opinion stating French technology company Micropole wrongly dismissed Muslim woman for wearing headscarf

New York Times

Middle East & North Africa
UAE: Ministry conducts midday break inspections, finds 99.8 percent of firms to be in compliance

Arabian Business

Syrian refugees & access to work in Jordan:

German Govt. & ILO announce infrastructure initiative to create jobs for Jordanians & refugees


Gudrun & Gudrun knitwear firm expands project in Jordan to employ female Syrian refugees

Intl. Business Times

Company responses Non-responses
Reminder: UN Forum on Business & Human Rights parallel event proposals (due 31 Jul)

ESCR-Net Corporate Capture Project Survey (open until 31 Jul)  Call for contributions for 2nd session of UN Intergovt. Working Group on proposed treaty (deadline 1 Sep)
Forthcoming events:
  • women activists, China & the fight against sweatshop exploitation (26 Jul, London)
  • '6th Asia Best CSR Practices Awards 2016' (5 Aug, Singapore)
  • master class: social performance in mining, oil & gas sectors (8-10 Aug, Colorado)
  • workshop on inequality & human rights in global South (27 Aug - 3 Sep, Colombia)
  • business course on UK Modern Slavery Act (12 Sep, London)
Details of these and other events further in the future can be found here.  Please send relevant event information to Alex Janczenia:  
Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (Middle East Research & Outreach Assistant)

Other current vacancies:
  • Fair Labor Association (Vice President)
  • Fair Wear Foundation (Assistant Verification Officer)
  • RepRisk AG (Sales Manager)
  • The Carter Center (Advocacy Coordinator)
  • UNICEF (Corporate Alliances Manager)
Further details and other recently posted jobs available here.  To submit a new job announcement in business & human rights please go here.
We take no position on views by commentators, organizations & companies in the materials in this email:
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