Hand-in-hand with the SA 8000 framework has come the Ethical Trading Initiative, a UK government- funded project that was established in 1998 as a collaborative effort involving more than 30 European companies, various trade union groups, and 19 NGOs. It is a significant initiative, with considerable and growing influence ” the combined annual turnover of member companies now exceeding $80 billion. [8 ]
Unlike many more general labor codes of conduct, the ETI is specifically focused on helping company members remove risks to their reputation and operations from poor employment conditions in their suppliers. [9 ]
The ETI base code requires that corporate members observe internationally agreed codes of conduct concerning labor and employment standards, including that:
Employment is freely chosen .
Freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining are respected.
Working conditions are safe and hygienic.
No child labor is used.
Workers are paid a living wage.
Working hours are not excessive.
No discrimination is practiced.
Regular employment is provided.
No harsh or inhumane treatment is allowed. [10 ]
These principles are essentially the same as those found in the SA 8000 standard, and the two groups work hand-in-hand, even sharing common board members. There are important differences, however. SA 8000 is a standard, modeled on the structures of other ISO quality standards such as ISO 9000. This means that it requires that companies be certified by an accredited professional, third-party certification firm. SA 8000 provides a structured method for implementing the principles enshrined in the ETI.
The ETI s approach itself is very different from SA 8000 s, and is focused on working with suppliers on experimental programs known as pilot schemes, which develop new methods for improving working conditions. It is through this exchange of leading practices, they contend, that the ETI brings real value to its members.
[8 ] Teresa Fabian, Supply Chain Management in an Era of Social and Environmental Accountability at www.sustdev.org/journals/edition.02/download/sdi2_1_5.pdf.
[9 ] Peter Burgess, Pilot Interim Review, Ethical Trading Initiative, SOMO Centre for Research on Multi-National Corporations, November 1999, p. 8 at www.somo.nl/monitoring/initiatives/eti-pilotrev.htm ; and also Teresa Fabian at www.sustdev.org/journals/edition.02/download/sdi2_1_5.pdf .
[10 ] From the Ethical Trade Initiative Web site at www.ethicaltrade.org/pub/ publications /purprinc/en/index.shtml.