No more blocking human rights and environmental protection: in the last few weeks we have come much closer to a supply chain law. Federal Ministers Heil and Müller have announced that they will present a law. The Chancellor has meanwhile also spoken out in favor of a supply chain law – as has more and more German companies. Only one continues to try to block: Federal Minister of Economics Altmaier.
Numerous examples show that people and the environment all over the world suffer from the unscrupulous dealings of German companies. And after years of research, one thing is clear: only a few German companies make voluntary efforts to protect human rights and environmental protection. Nevertheless, the Ministry of Economic Affairs warns against a “quick shot” – one thing is clear: It is high time to act!
The coalition agreement – and incidentally also a CDU party congress resolution! – says clearly: If companies do not voluntarily adhere to human rights, a supply chain law must come. We therefore demand from Federal Minister of Economics Altmaier: finally take human rights and the protection of the environment seriously! No more delaying and watering down!
The Corona crisis has shown: Companies that know their supply chains and rely on reliable partnerships are more crisis-proof. A supply chain law that enshrines human rights and environmental due diligence obligations in law would be a boost to sustainability for the German economy. Now is the time to ensure respect for human rights and the protection of the environment in global supply chains. This opportunity must not be wasted on the stubbornness of the Minister of Economics!
Please join in now and urge the minister: Don’t stand in the way of a supply chain law any longer!
In view of the resistance from the economy to the planned supply chain law, the XertifiX chairman Ingrid Sehrbrock and the treasurer Peter Weiß wrote a letter to Federal Minister Dr. Gerd Müller wrote, in which they support the minister against all opposition to pass the supply chain law agreed in the coalition agreement during this legislative period.
We keep hearing legitimate doubts from our licensees as to how companies that comply with their due diligence and, for example, have their supply chains checked by XertifiX, should compete against other companies that do nothing of the kind. There is an imbalance in the market economy that needs to be remedied. A supply chain law is a very suitable instrument for this! It is not for nothing that large companies such as the Rewe Group, Tchibo or Nestlé stand behind such a law. We expect that given the importance of the new law for the entire German economy, the German Minister for Economic Affairs Peter Altmeier will also give up his resistance and proactively support the law.
Today, Tuesday (July 14th, 2020), Federal Minister Müller has published the percentage of German companies that fulfill their duty of care with regard to supply chains. The minister had already indicated that this would probably be less than 50% of the companies required. The survey of companies has shown, however, that only 22% of the companies based in Germany meet the relatively low requirements of the survey (NAP monitoring). In this case, a statutory regulation is provided for in the coalition agreement.
Unfortunately, the economy is struggling to meet its obligations and is trying to prevent such a law. Four associations (BDI, BDA, DIHK, and HDE) have published a statement saying: “We are rejecting the … idea of introducing a national German due diligence law”.
That’s a scandal!
Johannes Heeg, spokesman for the Supply Chain Act, comments on this:
„This result is stunning twice: First, the business lobby does everything to ensure that the requirements for the survey are as low as possible – and then the companies obviously fail because of it. This is the only way to protect human rights and the environment. The federal government must now keep its promise from the coalition agreement and without further delay put in place a supply chain law!“
Please refer (Finanzen.net, German): Deutsche Wirtschaft stemmt sich gegen Lieferkettengesetz
Please refer to the paper: VERWÄSSERN – VERZÖGERN – VERHINDERN: WIRTSCHAFTSLOBBY GEGEN MENSCHENRECHTE UND UMWELTSTANDARDS
In a unique appeal, more than 110 bishops from all over the world accuse: irresponsible companies “… avoid taxes that could serve to build up and maintain public services of general interest as hospitals or schools; they pollute the soil, water and air or make themselves guilty of serious human rights violations around the world, such as forced labor and child labor. Some transnational corporations are threatening governments with lawsuits with extrajudicial dispute settlement mechanisms if environmental or social laws jeopardize their profits. This profit-driven system and the associated disposable mentality must be questioned more than ever today. ” A voluntary commitment does not seem to be enough to respect environmental protection and human rights. We have experienced this to an increasing extent in recent decades.
For this reason – according to the bishops – it is time for legal regulations. A French law on due diligence is a positive example. Such a law is also being debated in Germany and other countries. The bishops are therefore calling on governments to finally take action and enact specific laws to protect the environment and human rights.
“We are convinced that such laws can bring tangible improvements for people if they do
provide access to effective remedies for those concerned!”
The state government has issued a new circular, which stipulates, among other things, that all tombstones imported from India, China, Vietnam or the Philippines after January 1, 2020 require a certificate from XertifiX or another accredited certification body. All tombstones that were introduced into the federal territory before January 1, 2020 are not certified and can be erected without a seal. In this case, however, proof of the time of import must be available.
The renowned journalist Petra Sorge and other journalists have been researching child labor in India for more than a year. They examined the natural stone and carpet sectors. Lobby associations in India have intensively tried to ward off the impression that there could be child labor in their industries. The remarkable thing: These reports were published under the name of UNICEF.
The reports were commissioned by the Indian “Children’s Rights Commission” NCPCR, involving four states from which German stone importers also source their goods. The reports claim that the granite industry is “completely mechanized”. All processes are designed in such a way that “there is no room for manual work, especially not for child labor”. XertifiX has previously discovered that such claims are out of thin air and ignore large part of the reality in India.
Another commission report appeared in January 2019 and also virtually clears the carpet sector of child labor. UNICEF denies participation, although three UNICEF people were present on dates related to the field study. In fact, the journalists found child labor here, too.
At the request of the journalists, the UN Children’s Fund finally granted participation in the studies that deny child labor in the granite sector. The question has to be asked: How can it be that the recognized United Nations Children’s Fund supports reports that apparently deny child labor in industrial sectors in India in order to lobby for Indian exports?
Please refer: Im Namen von Unicef (Der Spiegel)
Please refer: How industry bodies are using the NCPCR and UNICEF to whitewash accusations of child labour (The Caravan)
As of January 1, 2020, in North Rhine-Westphalia new tombstones will have a certification requirement if the grave stones come from India, China, Vietnam or the Philippines. This is set by a new circular, which was published on 09 November 2019. So far, XertifiX is the only certifier accredited by the state of NRW.
Please refer (German only): Runderlass
Please refer to the website (German only): Feststellung der Funktionsfähigkeit des Zertifizierungsverfahrens nach § 4a Absatz 1 des Bestattungsgesetzes
We are delighted that XertifiX has been accredited by the state of North Rhine-Westphalia (State Chancellery) as the – so far only – certifier for tombstones. Probably, from 01.01.2020 onwards, the presentation of a certificate must be submitted when purchasing a new gravestone from India, China, Vietnam or the Philippines.
Siehe: Minister für Bundes- und Europaangelegenheiten sowie Internationales
In the context of children’s work on gravestones, claims are repeatedly made that will be examined in more detail below:
Claim 1: There is no child labor at gravestones!
The fact is: Unannounced visits to Indian quarries have shown time and again that children are working on hammer drills. This is documented in photos, including by a photographer who has worked for the Süddeutsche Zeitung. (siehe: Beitrag)
Dusseldorf University of Applied Sciences also prepared an opinion on this question and stated that grave stones from India, China, Vietnam and the Philippines could be used for child labor. (siehe: Gutachten/News)
Claim 2: Children can not work on natural stones in quarries, because they are too heavy!
The fact is: If the natural stones (rough blocks in quarries) are too heavy for children, then of course they are also for the adults. Clever: It is not assumed by child labor experts that the children would have to lift inhospitable natural stones while working in quarries. But by contradicting such a (fictional) assumption, one makes use of the simple rhethoric gimmick: first put a false claim into space, then vehemently contradict it – and thus allegedly reduce the total assumption of child labor in Indian quarries to absurdity. But as I said, this is just a rhethoric gimmick that needs to be debunked.
Claim 3: The quarries in India, where raw materials for gravestones are mined, are highly industrialized, so that no children could work there. The machines used in these quarries are all too complicated to be used by children.
The fact is: It is true that there are also highly industrialized quarries in India – in which you can not come in without an invitation but not unannounced (Very few outsiders will probably know how actually they work there!). But it is also true that there are numerous quarries in Southern India that are working “conservatively”: with holes that either fill explosive charges or are needed for diamond saws. These holes are, however, set with jackhammers – and it is precisely on such machines that child laborers (as defined by the ILO Convention 182) have been found again and again. That’s the key point.
Claim 4: It can not be guaranteed at all that the tombstones can be traced back to the quarry. A stonemason can not control every supply chain and make sure that no children have worked there.
The fact is: The stonemason does not even have to check that himself. There are external “service providers” who specialize in this.
XertifiX, for example, has been controlling natural stone supply chains for many years and issuing the natural stone seals when the supply chain can be traced back to the quarry and the certification requirements at the production sites are met. With other words, if tombstones were certified with the XertifiX seal, then the quarry was also checked unannounced and by this ensured, among other things, that (with very high probability) there are no children working there. This is important to know for relatives, traders and stonemasons, cemetery administrations and politicians changing cemetery legislation.
So if in the future you meet someone who claims that Indian gravestones can not do child labor at all, then you can answer with a clear conscience that this is just rubbish.
This does not mean that Indian tombstones are always produced with child labor. That would be just nonsense (and no one will claim seriously)! But that means very well, that one should always make sure that the tombstones are not made with child labor by regular and reliable (!), unannounced (!) checks at Indian tombstones.