Switzerland turns orange ahead of “responsible business” referendum

(Photo: swissinfo.ch / Keystone / Samuel Schalch) 

Orange flags and banners hang in many parts of Switzerland as its citizens prepare for a referendum on 29 November on a proposal to hold Swiss-based companies accountable for their business activities abroad that threaten human and labour rights, as well as the environment.

Called the “Responsible Business Initiative,” advocates seek to hold Swiss companies responsible for rights and environmental abuse in their global supply chains. Trade unionists, human rights defenders and environmentalists asserted that Swiss firms have an obligation to the principles on business and human rights adopted by the United Nations in 2011. 

If the “yes vote” wins, all Swiss-based companies will be required to review their business activities, identify risks to people, particularly workers, and the environment and implement measures that will be reflected in their regular reports to authorities.

It was reported that the initiative has a chance to win despite strong opposition from the country’s central government and parliament.   

As a show of its support, BWI, on 25 November, will hold the sixth installment of its “Workers’ Voices” webinar series on multinational companies (MNCs) and their responsibilities and accountabilities to uphold human and labour rights. 

Billed as “Networking on MNCs to Confront Corporate Power,” the event will comprehensively discuss MNCs’ behavior amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, share experiences from trade unions organizing MNCs and strategies to improve corporate accountability. A special segment will also be devoted for BWI affiliates to express their solidarity to the various efforts being conducted in support of the responsible business initiative. 

To join BWI’s webinar on MNCs, please register here..

To know more about the Swiss responsible business initiative, go here.