MEPs back workers' voice in corporate due diligence

MEPs have today voted for the explicit involvement of trade unions and workers’ representatives in defending human rights in corporate supply chains.

The Employment and Social Affairs Committee (EMPL) of the European Parliament has adopted with a large majority (28 votes in favour, 20 against and 1 abstention) its opinion on the proposal for a Directive on Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence.

The vote is a strong signal in the fight against human rights violations including abuse of and attacks on labour and trade union rights by major European companies. It's now up to the Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) to take the EMPL-position on board for its final report.

Responding to the vote, ETUC Confederal Secretary Isabelle Schömann, said:

“MEP’s have sent today a clear signal for a strong involvement of trade unions and workers’ representatives in companies’ due diligence strategies. They know better than anyone where human rights and, in particular, labour and trade union rights are at risk in the company’s value chain. This is, in comparison to the Commission proposal, a very important step in the right direction. 

“It is equally important that, irrespectively of its size, all companies in high-risk sectors are included in the scope of the directive. Human rights are universal and there should be no exceptions. That's why the EMPL Committee's attempt to enlarge the scope for high-risk activities to companies with more than 150 workers as a first step is the right thing to do. Also important is the introduction and clear definition of what should be seen as high-risk activities.”

Another significant element of the opinion is the extension of the human rights instruments in the annex to the Directive to some important European human rights instruments such as the Council of Europe European Convention on Human Rights, the European Social Charter and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU.