China: Committee takes action on workplace health and safety problems

A multi-stakeholder advisory committee meeting on workplace health and safety, convened recently in China to look at the root causes of fatal factory fires in the country. The committee aims to contribute to the development of responsible, competitive and sustainable businesses, by producing consensus-based strategies to ensure workplaces with conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity.

More than 30 participants from a wide range of stakeholder groups met in Shenzhen, China, in January to continue a multi-stakeholder advisory committee dialogue and consultative process that began in 2012. Mainetti, the global apparel hanger brand, hosted the meeting, which aimed to address common challenges and seek to take concrete steps to improve health and safety in the work environment in China.

The forum provides a platform for dialogue about specific labour issues in a particular economic sector and geographic area, which will lead to the development of responsible, competitive and sustainable businesses. They aim to drive collaboration among standards and code systems, to develop dialogue among global and local stakeholders, and to disseminate consensus-based strategies to improve industrial relations, labour conditions and business competitiveness.

Improved oversight and management important

Due to the heightened awareness of fire and workplace health and safety issues in supply chains, including in China, the partners agreed to discuss workplace health and safety and the importance of improved audit oversight and management systems in any improvement efforts. This discussion also included an examination of the root causes of fatal factory fires and a consideration of potential strategies for addressing these problems that can be embedded into various social standards and applied by the factories in China’s context.

Participants included representatives of the ACFTU, the Institute of Sustainable Community, Esquel, Mainetti, Esprit, KARSTADT, Disney, Migros, Bogart Lingerie, Fair Wear Foundation, and local NGOs, in addition to the partner organizations SAI, BSCI, WRAP, CNTAC, and Solidaridad. Mainetti also shared with the participants its experience in applying Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives at the plant.