Upholding labour standards within FSC - An interview with Coen van der Veer, FNV, Netherlands

04 July 2017 12:56


The voting period for the FSC Board of Directors has resumed and it ends on August 31st 2017. General Secretary Ambet Yuson declared: ‘We are happy to support the re-election of Rulita Wijayanigdyah who has been instrumental in providing workers’ voice within the FSC system’.

Since graduating from the University of Indonesia in 1998 Rulita has been working with the Indonesian wood and forestry trade union organization (KAHUTINDO), representing over 127,000 workers. She has also worked extensively with the Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI) in discussions in international fora, representing over 12 million workers in 135 countries. She had key roles in institutional capacity-building, industrial and sectoral relations, policy advocacy and collective bargaining negotiations, in which she has demonstrated clear leadership abilities. She has represented unions on active engagements in the multi-stakeholder sustainable development and forest certification agendas, such as: the Plantation Forest Certification Standard of the Indonesian Ecolabelling Institution (LEI), 2001, the Union-led National multi-stakeholder dialogues on Sustainable Wood and Forestry Industries, 2005-2010; The Forest Dialogue, 2007-2009; Trade Union Delegation in the UNFCCC COPs 2007, 2009, 2011; East Asia FLEG on Illegal Logging, 2008; ForestWorks Australia Asia Pacific Sustainable Forest Management Projects, 2008-2009; Social Audits on International Framework Agreements (IFA) of Faber Castell, Staedtler and IFBWW, 1999-2011, the Standard Committee of the Indonesian Forest Certification Cooperation, 2012-2013 and the ILO Tripartite Experts on Sustainable Development, Decent Work and Green Jobs in 2015.

Coen van der Veer is the treasurer of the trade union FNV in The Netherlands and was earlier Global Coordinator of the Building and Woodworkers International. In that capacity he has wide experience on forestry issues. As a member of the Social Chamber within FSC he shares his views on Rulita Wijayanigdyah’s role as a Board Member.

What is your role within FSC?

Currently I am a Representative for the FNV within the Social Chamber. The FNV as a member of the ITUC and BWI strives to improve working and living conditions of all people. In the Netherlands, the FSC is a big brand and all people look at the certificate before purchasing timber, and it’s in almost every book you buy. That might be related to the fact that we have very little natural forests anymore as we used them up to build ships in the 17th century. So for the 1,1 million members, the credibillity of FSC as standard for human rights and working conditions is very important.

What are the key challenges in the FSC system at the moment?

There are several key challanges, but for workers there is one very pressing: how can the FSC as a system ensure human and workers’ rights in countries which have not ratified the International conventions in that respect? Whether it is the right to strike or safeguard against discrimination, employment based on sexual orientation FSC must be a robust and credible standard even in countries where those rights are not self evident and it might even be against the law.

How has Rulita contributed to the FSC system?

From the start, Rulita has been instrumental in maintaining the dialogue between the diffferent stakeholders in the FSC family. With a form ideological base she manages to find very practical an pragmatic solutions which are directed at improving the effect of certification on the ground. Her practical experiences as a negotiator are very helpful.

Why should Rulita be re-elected as a member of the Board?

Labor is a strong factor in FSC. Unions were the founding members of FSC in the last centrury. Many issues in relation to the credibillity of FSC are related to workers rights.

And as you can see, more and more unions are becoming involved with FSC, specially in the South. I think the Global South’s union involvement is all the credit to Rulita so If FSC wants to be the number one certifaction system, they’d better ensure the commitment of a strong woman as Rulita in the board.