- 2018 National LGBT Conference
- 27 July 2018
Conference notes the recent increase in the number of companies selling ‘Pride’ related fashion and merchandise either in partnership with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) organisations or on the premise that a percentage of their sales will be donated to LGBT organisations.
Examples include Primark, which teamed up with Stonewall, and H&M, which donated 10% of its sales to the United Nations Free & Equal campaign which aims to promote equal rights for all individuals around the world. Both companies have faced criticisms in respect of their ethical sourcing due to where garments are manufactured and due to some of their collections being manufactured in countries where LGBT criminalisation and persecution persists.
Conference also notes that during Pride season, trade unions, employers and Pride committees themselves may also purchase merchandise without being aware of source.
Conference notes that UNISON has a supplier Code of Conduct, which includes the Ethical Trade Initiative (ETI) Base Code. The Code covers human rights abuses, freedom of association, safe working conditions, fair payment throughout the supply chain, slavery, impact on climate change, deforestation and pollution. It makes explicit reference to International Labour Organisation standards, anti-discrimination, the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and responsible supply chains.
Conference commends the new UNISON guidance “Responsible Buying in Public Services” which includes recommended activities, an ethical procurement checklist and a model motion to councils. Conference also commends UNISON’s research with People & Planet into ethical procurement in UK Local Authorities which found that of the local authorities studied only 8 had a stand-alone Ethical Procurement Policy, and only 2 reference the ETI Base Code.
Conference also notes that UNISON affiliates to Labour Behind the Label, the only UK campaign group that focuses exclusively on labour rights in the global garment industry. It has been instrumental in pushing UK retailers to sign the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety, ensuring Rana Plaza victims receive long-term compensation, supporting workers in Indonesia to receive legally-owed severance pay, and campaigning with Cambodian garment workers to demand a living wage, among many other cases. It is a workers’ cooperative based in Bristol. It represents the Clean Clothes Campaign in the UK and works with over 250 partner organisations worldwide through this network. In the UK it works with a variety of partners including trade unions.
Conference believes that our globalised world is characterised by deregulation, privatisation and austerity, and products have long and complex supply chains. Different stages of production take place in multiple locations and may involve contracting and outsourcing. This has frequently revealed systemic human rights abuses, no protection against discrimination, poor labour standards, denial of trade union rights and freedom of association.
Conference further believes that the way forward is for the adoption of ethical procurement policies based on the ETI Base Code.
Conference therefore calls on the National LGBT Committee to:
1)Raise awareness of ethical procurement amongst LGBT members using the UNISON Guidance and research
2)Encourage branch and regional groups and caucuses to discuss ethical trading with LGBT organisations we work with, including Pride committees
3)Work with the International Department to promote understanding in the union of ethical procurement and its impact on LGBT people
4)Promote the UNISON campaign to urge branches to raise the issue of ethical procurement with their employers
5)Work with UNISON’s National Labour Link committee to raise awareness within the Labour Party of ethical procurement and its impact on LGBT people
6)Offer Labour Behind the Label a stall and/or a workshop at next year’s LGBT conference and investigate lines of joint campaigning at selected Pride events and on other appropriate occasions;
7)Publicise Labour Behind the Label in Out in UNISON and urge LGBT members to get their branches and regions to affiliate
8)Raise these issues with the Trades Union Congress LGBT+ Committee