Over the past few months, our annual Book Chain Project conference has been the focus for the team in London. The event involved a day of panel discussions and delved into topics on all aspects of the Book Chain Project, all under the theme of ‘The Story of Books’.
Set against panoramic views of the WWT London Wetlands Centre, we gathered together 11 speakers covering 5 sessions, and invited participating publishers, mills and suppliers to attend. Altogether, we had a packed room with over 60 people in attendance and speakers from a variety of companies.
The speakers covered various topics including; the economics behind recent pulp price rises; the various pressures on mill groups around the world; deforestation hotpots and NGO efforts to keep corporate commitments on track. We also dedicated a session to the issue of plastic where we had the lead Plastics Campaign manager from Friends of the Earth examining the different recyclable alternatives available and how these options could be implemented into the book making industry. In addition to that, with pressure to tackle human rights abuses in all supply chains from the Modern Slavery statements, we ran a session on human rights and heard some hard-hitting examples of corporate engagement to correct previous abuses with the help of the Forest Peoples Programme.
The day was a great success and ended with a tour of the wetlands and feedback has been incredibly positive with 50% of attendees rating the event as ‘Very Good’.
The rise of robots in manufacturing in Southeast Asia is likely to fuel modern-day slavery as workers who end up unemployed due to automation face abuses competing for a shrinking pool of low-paid jobs in a “race to the bottom”. Especially, the workers in Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines — at least 137 million people — risk losing their jobs because of the automation in the next two decades. Those workers are more vulnerable to workplace abuses as they jostle for fewer jobs at lower wages.
Pressure to meet fast fashion deadlines is leading to women working in Asian factories supplying Gap and H&M being sexually and physically abused, according to two separate reports published by Global Labour Justice on gender-based violence in garment supply chains. More than 540 female workers at factories that supply the Gap and H&M have described incidents of threats and abuse. The reports claim that these allegations recorded between January and May this year in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia and Sri Lanka, are a direct result of pressure for quick turnarounds and low overheads. Gap and H&M are going to investigate the allegations and they welcome initiatives to tackle violence, including an ILO convention.
Labor and human rights violations in Apple’s global supply chain have doubled in the span of a year, a new report has revealed. The company’s Supplier Responsibility Progress Report, released on Wednesday, detailed several “core violations” that were discovered following an audit of the working conditions of its supply chain employees across 30 countries. Apple trained more than 3 million supplier employees on their rights last year and tracked the working hours of 1.3 million people on a weekly basis.
Abuses included labor violations, the falsification of working hours, harassment and underage staff. Apple conducted 756 audits in total and its report detailed some of the violations that were considered to be “serious breaches of compliance.”
Burmese migrants charged with defamation after alleging labour abuses in Thailand’s multimillion-pound poultry export industry. The Burmese migrants allege they were forced to work 22-hour days at Thammakaset Farm 2, at times having to sleep in the chicken sheds with 30,000 hens. They also said their freedom of movement was severely restricted. Thailand’s important and well publicised efforts to systematically address migrant worker exploitation are seriously undermined as migrants cannot speak up.
Two of the world’s leading electronics brands, are facing allegations that workers in their supply chains are being duped, exploited and underpaid in Malaysia, after a Guardian investigation found that Nepalese migrant workers making goods for the global electronics brands claimed to be trapped and exploited. Both Samsung and Panasonic have said they are opening investigations into the conduct of their suppliers following the claims.
A new report by the Rainforest Action Network provides further evidence of the benefits of greater local land rights in conserving tropical forests. The research follows a separate report published in 2014 by the World Resources Institute, an international environmental NGO. That study showed deforestation rates were 11 times lower in zones licensed to local communities than in other lands.
The Mongabay article reports that Indonesia targeted 2.5 million hectares of land for community-based forest management between 2009 and 2014 but only 13% of this had actually been allocated for community-based forest management by the end of 2013. The article points to criticisms by some that many licenses vulnerable to abuse with one commentator claiming that some loosely organized communities will simply sell their land to the highest bidder – often industrial companies.
Following a two year investigation, Greenpeace have uncovered evidence of systematic abuse and a flawed monitoring system in Brazil, a country whose government claims to be coping with deforestation. The loggers use a variety of techniques, including over-reporting the number and size of rare trees and logging trees that are protected by law. Greenpeace’s new report, entitled “The Amazon’s silent crisis” can be accessed here.
A new report titled ‘Logging Concessions Enable Illegal Logging Crisis in the Peruvian Amazon’ has found that the Peruvian Forest Law is being exploited for illegal purposes. Loggers are required to declare which individual, GPS-referenced trees will be cut in a one or five year period. As a result many have invented the existence of trees, they then log in other areas and claim trees came from inside their concessions and use the paperwork from these concessions to “prove” it. In over half the cases violations have related to CITES-listed cedar species. Nearly 70% of the concessions inspected have been suspected of “major violations”. This follows what was supposed to be a strengthening of the law through a trade agreement between Peru and the United States in 2009. The report’s authors say the root of the problem is that the authorities only check the regulatory documents in transport or at port arrival well after the logging has taken place. The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) has previously been highly critical of Peruvian logging practices highlighting the abuse of migrant workers and strategies designed to confuse the authorities in order to cover up illegal logging.