William Eichler 18 June 2018

Councils must do more to protect workers’ rights globally, union says

Councils must do more to protect workers’ rights globally, union says  image

A public sector union has criticised local authorities for ‘not doing enough’ to protect workers’ rights globally.

The local government sector spent almost £60bn on goods and services in 2016, giving it immense purchasing power which could be used to influence the practices of corporations.

However, a new report from Unison, entitled Ethical Procurement in UK Local Authorities, found that only eight of the 190 local authorities looked at had a standalone ethical procurement policy.

Products bought by councils have complex, global supply chains controlled by companies whose low-cost, fast production business models have led to abuses of workers’ rights, according to the report.

These abuses include practices such as forced labour.

Unison acknowledged some local authorities are implementing ethical procurement strategies, but warned these ‘lack depth and do not put adequate practices in place to have any real or tangible impact on supply chains’.

‘Any abuse of human rights is unacceptable and needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency,’ said Unison’s head of local government Heather Wakefield.

‘UK local government is in a position to influence and shape the industries they buy goods from.

‘They have the opportunity to play a key role in reforming supply chains and dramatically improving the lives of workers across the world.

‘Ethical procurement practices in local authorities remain in the early stages and lack clear and effective polices for addressing violations of human rights. This needs to change.’

Annie Pickering, the campaigns and movement building co-ordinator for People & Planet, the network of student campaign groups which produced the report for Unison, said: ‘Protecting workers' rights is not only important in the places we work, but also throughout the supply chains of the goods we buy.

‘Other UK public institutions, like universities, are taking action on sweatshops in their supply chains. Local government has the potential to do the same.’ The Local Government Association (LGA) has been approached for comment.

Declaring a climate change emergency image

Declaring a climate change emergency

Local authorities can play a key role in tackling climate change – and there is plenty for them to do. Never before has thinking globally and acting locally been more important, says Mark Whitehead.
Open letter to Boris Johnson image

Open letter to Boris Johnson

The MJ's editor Heather Jameson asks the new PM a simple question: do you want to fund local government or do you want to scale back services to the basics?
Highways jobs

Deputyship Caseworker

Essex County Council
£20200 - £22220 per annum + benefits
We are pleased to be able to offer an exciting opportunity in our deputyship team, a team that provides a service to protect and support the wellbeing England, Essex, Chelmsford
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Senior Practitioner - Family Support & Protection

Essex County Council
£38000.0 - £46000.0 per annum
Senior Practitioner - North Essex Essex County Council (ECC) is one of the largest and most dynamic local authorities in the UK, serving a population England, Essex, Clacton-On-Sea
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Project Engineer (Permanent)

Havant Borough Council
£37,100
We’re looking for an experienced and enthusiastic engineer to join our well-regarded design and implementation team. Havant, Hampshire
Recuriter: Havant Borough Council

Project Engineer (Fixed Term)

Havant Borough Council
£37,100
We’re looking for an experienced and enthusiastic engineer to join our well-regarded design and implementation team. Havant, Hampshire
Recuriter: Havant Borough Council

Housing Strategy & Partnerships Manager

Redbridge London Borough Council
£48,492-£51,450
The Housing Needs Service is undergoing a radical transformation to achieve successful outcomes for our residents. Redbridge, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Redbridge London Borough Council

Local Government News

Latest issue - Local Goverrnemnt News

The June issue of Local Government News contains the full details of all the winning schemes in the 2019 Street Design Awards. From Children's Play to Pedestrian Environment, find out who has been recognised for their innovation and use of best practice.

This issue also explores how local government pension funds can hedge currency risk, how councils can best address the shortfall in school places, and an update on the number of authorities banning the use of Roundup over safety fears.

Register for your free magazine