Upholding labour standards within FSC - An interview with Jeanette Clarke

31 July 2017 07:32


I have worked as a researcher, facilitator and consultant in the development field for 30 years, specialising in forestry in the context of poverty reduction and livelihood security. I have worked extensively in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and other countries in southern and eastern Africa. I have long term consulting experience on social aspects of commercial timber production including labour, community engagement, land rights and corporate social responsibility; small scale and community-based forest enterprise development; forests, trees and rural livelihoods; and community-based natural resource management.

What is your role within FSC?

I have been involved with Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) for the past twenty years, as a social specialist on FM audits and more recently in national standards development, FSC policy development and as an active member of the social chamber.

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

Historically, FSC has been weakest on social aspects. Social voices tend to be less audible than those of their environmental and economic counterparts. From a labour perspective a key challenge has been to safeguard all workers' rights in the current climate of labour outsourcing. FSC standards have gone a long way to protecting contractor workers through including them in the definition of workers and thereby ensuring that standards apply equally to those indirectly employed. The inclusion of living wage standards in the IGIs is further an important step forward in this regard. However, in some countries there remains a challenge with this interpretation and inclusion of contractor workers in FM audits. Protection against the insecurity of short term contract work remains a further challenge. The inclusion of labour standards in CoC is another key challenge under scrutiny at present and being strongly resisted by employer groups in some countries.

How has Rulita contributed to the FSC system?

Rulita brings a lifetime of experience and commitment to workers' rights to the FSC Board. This has been particularly important and timeous given the historical weakness of these voices in the FSC system.

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

There are ongoing challenges facing FSC with regards protecting worker’s rights within the system, and it is of great importance that Rulita continues to play the effective role she has been in championing these rights. As Board Chair, she also has played an important role in forging consensus amongst different interest groups and can continue to bring these conciliation skills to her position as Board member.