The Economic Chamber have voted against the inclusion of workers’ right in the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Chain of Custody (CoC) Standards at the 8th FSC General Assembly in Vancouver, Canada. The Economic Chamber, which is made up of certificate holders and works closely with auditors and certification bodies, argued that it would be extremely costly and technically unfeasible. The large BWI delegation in attendance vigorously opposed this position.
Motion 50 on “Strengthening social rights in Chain of Custody,” calls for inclusion of labour standards provisions based on the ILO Core Conventions such as minimum wage for industrial workers, non-discrimination for women on occupation and training and, crucially, workers’ rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining. The motion was submitted by the BWI, the European Federation of Building and Wood Workers (EFBWW), Union Network International (UNI) and the Swedish Graphical and Wood Workers.
“The BWI is greatly alarmed by the abhorrent disregard to workers' rights in the CoC standard by members of the FSC Economic Chamber, which would have rendered the FSC Policy Standards more coherent and consistent,” said Per Olof Sjoo, BWI President and head of the trade union delegation at the FSC General Assembly.
“With workers’ rights already embedded in FSC Forest Management Standards and International Generic Criteria and Indicators, the FSC General Assembly could have seized the opportunity to lift its CoC Policy Standards to the “Gold Standard” level. Unfortunately, employers decided to discriminate against workers. This is really an alarming situation,” added Sjoo.
In comparison to the stark rejection of the Economic Chamber, the Social Chamber had made Motion 50 its top priority and threw its wholehearted supported behind it. There was also broad support in the Environmental Chamber. During the deliberations confusion arose regarding technicalities of the Motion, which raised concerns by both the BWI delegation and members of the Social Chamber. As a result the Social Chamber raised the Yellow Card to FSC with a statement: “As in football matches, we raise the yellow card to the Economic Chamber as a warning and calling them to engage in fair and constructive dialogue with the Social Chamber to seek solutions.”
To register its indignation on the questionable process surrounding the deliberation and voting on Motion 50, the BWI made a public statement on the opening session of second day.
Speaking on behalf of the BWI delegation, Apolinar Z. Tolentino, BWI Regional Representative for Asia Pacific, declared: “The Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI) respects the outcome of the vote taken by the members of the FSC General Assembly. We would like to thank and commend our supporters. However, we would like to officially raise our serious concerns over the deliberation and voting process of Motion 50.”
Despite the failure in passing Motion 50, the BWI will continue to push for a fairer timber and wood trade system in which CoC accounts for all those workers who make supply chains possible. The fight for workers’ rights in the FSC certification systems will now move to the ground.
You can read the full statement here.