Ethical Trading & BBS: Offering Elected Representation and Freedom of Association

Published 27th October 2020Diamonds graphic separator

BBS has always worked closely with The Ethical Trading Initiative, and continue to do so, ensuring our supply chains use the ETI 9-point base code as a minimum standard.

One particular topic that BBS has been working on is Elected Representation and Freedom of Association (FOA). In China, membership of a union is allowed, although the vast majority of workers are affiliated to the All China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU). BBS has been working on a more local level, trying to create smaller and highly focused groups who can work together to make a difference to an individual and their workplace.

During the recent months it has not been possible to make our usual visits to our supply chains and continue our collaborative approach to making a difference to a working day.

At the end of 2019, BBS enlisted the help of the ETI in Hong Kong by arranging specialised and individual training for our supply chains in South East China. The training was based around the ETI's 9-Point Base Code, and enabled two teams within our supply chain to be fully trained and fully conversant with the code. This also enabled them to make factory visits on the behalf of BBS to continue the work already put in place by the BBS ethical team in the UK.

The current Covid-19 pandemic has meant that BBS has been using the trained teams to visit our factories and speak directly with workers offering advice and guidance on topics from the ETI base code.

Advice and guidance is now a regular part of the working week for the factory staff, with individuals able to approach the BBS/ETI teams on any given subject, safe in the knowledge that the factory management and owners accept this as a positive move.

Individual factories have elected representatives who have become the worker’s voice, and are able to approach the factory management with any issues that may need addressing. All BBS supply chain factories have fitted suggestion boxes as a positive approach to possible and required change. BBS has implemented individual systems in our supply chain factories to allow issues to be officially logged and dealt with, keeping the elected representative and the factory staff involved and informed of progress and outcome.

It is always very positive to know that our supply chains have a voice and that issues can be properly and efficiently dealt with, but BBS are always keen to know more, so we have set up regular surveys of our ETI trained supply chain members asking how they deal with factories and the work force, what differences have they made or seen and how can BBS improve things further? With this information BBS can plan more positive moves for the future and continue to grow our ETI team in China, making further investments where it makes most difference.