Slave like conditions are still common in spite of decades of supply chain efforts. Newly started ETI Sweden aims to become the engine where companies, the public sector, trade unions and NGOs can collaborate around complex supply chain issues. (Photo: Solidarity Center/Carlos Villalon is licensed under CC BY 2.0)
Press release 2019-12-13: Swedish companies, trade unions, civil society organizations and authorities are now coming together to promote better working conditions and human rights in producing countries. The formation of a Swedish Ethical Trading Initiative, ETI Sweden, signifies a vigorous joint effort for fair conditions in world trade and business operations.
ETI organizations are already established in the UK, Norway and Denmark. The Swedish counterpart is now gearing up to become an engine for better working conditions through cross-sectoral collaborations in Sweden.
“It’s very gratifying! There is a real engagement surrounding these issues in Sweden and ETI creates sound bases for real change,” says Viveka Risberg, Program director at Axfoundation which has pushed for a Swedish ETI and is one of its founders.
Sweden’s imports are dependent on production in high-risk countries with precarious labor conditions and environmental impact. Corporations’ efforts to secure good labor conditions are advancing at the top of the chain, but further down, where the risks are greatest, there is neither traceability nor transparency.
ETI opens up new opportunities for collaboration between players in Sweden and with ETI-organizations in other countries. ETI Sweden aims to contribute towards fair working conditions, reduced environmental impact and anti- corruption by strengthening capacity and engaging in local projects. Membership is open to companies, civil society organizations, trade unions and the public sector. Systembolaget (the Swedish state-owned retail monopoly for alcoholic beverages), one of the founding members, says that the greatest advantage is the power to influence.
“Impetus from both trade unions and NGOs are necessary to address the challenges in the agricultural industry regarding for example low salaries and lack of trade union rights. For this reason, ETI is a very valuable initiative,” says Hanna Sutherlin, Sustainability manager at Systembolaget which is one of the co-founders of ETI Sweden.
ETI not only engages with retail companies but also with the industry-, construction- and energy sectors which face great challenges in their global supply chains with unethical and polluting extraction and manufacturing in high-risk countries.
“Traceability and the knowledge about how to prevent, mitigate and manage risks throughout the supply chain is low. Global supply chains, including those of Swedish companies, are rife with human rights violations and poverty. Different actors must collaborate to solve this,” says Hanna Nelson, Policy manager at Oxfam Sweden, one of the founders.
The ETI-organizations today have 350 members around the world, reaching several million employees and growers. Freedom of association is one of the key pillars of ETI’s code and work.
“Human and workers’ rights must be respected throughout the supply chain in order to safeguard the rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining for fair conditions for workers all over the world. We see ETI Sweden as a tool for this since it’s an initiative that gathers the good forces who want to improve the conditions in their supply chains”, says Daniel Carlstedt, representative from The Swedish Trade Union Confederation, LO, which is also one of the founders.
Founding members of ETI Sweden are:
Axfoundation, Coop Sverige, Fairtrade Sverige, The Swedish Trade Union Confederation (LO), Oxfam Sweden, Systembolaget, Unionen, Union to Union, Västtrafik.
For more information, please contact:
Viveka Risberg, Programme director Sustainable production and consumption, Axfoundation, tel 072-518 00 95 (), Hanna Nelson, Policy manager, Oxfam Sweden, tel 070-583 88 22, Hanna Sutherlin, Sustainability manager, Systembolaget, tel 073-390 63 34, Daniel Carlstedt, LO’s representative at ETI Sweden, tel 010-450 80 26.