What we want

Companies must be obliged to respect human rights and the environment, in their own operations, subsidiaries and global value chain, including suppliers and subcontractors. This is the reason why the EU needs to table an EU binding legislation on corporate due diligence. The EU should also engage constructively in the negotiations for an ambitious UN Treaty on Business and Human Rights.

 

  • Companies must comply with human rights and environmental due diligence obligations.
  • Due diligence processes must ensure respect for workers’ and trade union rights, including for example Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining.

 

Companies must be liable for any human rights and environmental abuses, including workers and trade union rights abuses in their operations or value chains (without prejudice to existing subcontracting and supply chain liability frameworks).

 

  • EU legislation must make EU companies liable for harms committed at home or abroad in their direct operations or by operations in their global value chains.
  • Liability must be imposed for harms caused or contributed to by EU companies in their global value chains, as well as for failure to conduct adequate due diligence.
  • In any case, EU legislation shall not impact on other subcontracting and supply chain liability frameworks established at national, European and international level (e.g. joint and several liability in subcontracting chains).
  • Companies’ duty of care and corporate due diligence are two separate and complementary duties, the latter being the means towards the former. Companies shall not be able to escape liability by arguing that they have respected due diligence obligations.

 

EU legislation should empower victims and their representatives, including trade unions and NGOs, to fight against human rights abuses. It should ensure the full involvement of trade unions and workers’ representatives in the whole due diligence process, as well as the consultation (and consent, where applicable) of all relevant stakeholders. 

 

  • Right for trade unions to negotiate with the company the due diligence process.
  • Right for workers’ representatives to be informed and consulted in the different steps of the due diligence process.
  • Early alert mechanism should be developed in partnership with the trade union in the companies concerned.
  • Stakeholders should be informed, consulted and involved as well in the due diligence process.
  • Due diligence processes must ensure respect for indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ rights (in particular the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent).

 

Governments must set up robust enforcement mechanisms, with effective sanctions, to ensure that companies obey the law.

 

  • Competent authorities must have the mandate to investigate potential infringements and impose sufficiently dissuasive and proportional sanctions on them.

 

Victims of corporate abuses must have access to courts  in their own country and in the country where the parent or lead company is based or operates  and the rules of the (court) game must be made fairer for victims.

 

  • Law must allow victims from third countries to choose whether to use the law of the home or host state when bringing a case against a company.
  • Law must put an end to placing the burden on victims to prove companies are responsible. Instead, it must require companies to disclose any relevant evidence lying in their control, particularly regarding their connection to the harm and their due diligence process.
  • Law must require companies to disclose the names, locations, and other important information of their global subsidiaries, suppliers and business partners. Global supply chain transparency directly impacts victims’ ability to access remedy.
  • Law must ensure that victims have enough time to bring claims for damages before EU courts.
  • Law must ensure that trade unions and NGOs can bring collective actions on behalf of victims.
  • Governments must provide support to victims to facilitate access to justice.