TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

Kenya out to make workplaces safer

Friday, 23 September 2016

Source: Daily Nation

Kenya is aligning policies and labour laws to global best practices in production, EAC, Commerce and Tourism Cabinet Secretary Phyllis Kandie has said.

Ms Kandie said the move is aimed at reaping maximum benefits under the extended African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) trade agreements.

Speaking at the Agoa Labour and Trade Ministerial meeting in Washington, DC, Ms Kandie said workers’ rights was key to successful implementation of trade agreements.

Participants said while the Agoa pact does not specifically require affected countries to implement certain labour issues, the sophisticated consumer of the future will frown on products sourced from factories and countries that do not respect workers’ rights and safety.

“Consumers will be more sensitive to products and where they are sourced,” said Mars International chief sustainability officer Barry Parking.

Mr Parking, the World Cocoa Foundation chairman, said his firm was spearheading a farmer education and certification campaign in west Africa, reaching over 400,000 of them to promote human rights within the supply value chain.

The $35 billion firm has over 80,000 workers in 75 countries.

“The farmer has to be successful if we have to be successful in the future,” said Mr Parkin, whose company manufactures chocolates, among other products.

VF Corporation Vice-President-Global Supply Chain Sean Cady said they are working with governments; partners and factories in Asia and around the world to improve workers’ safety, payment and the working environment, including enforcement of building codes for factories.

Mr Cady’s firm, a global leader in branded lifestyle apparel, footwear and accessories, saw its revenues cross the $12.4 billion mark in 2015.

US Secretary for Labour Tom Perez told the meeting, which brought together 20 ministers of Labour and Trade from sub-Saharan Africa, that the main aim of mainstreaming labour issues in trade pacts is to foster sustainable growth that is boosted by workers efforts, once their safety and rights are guaranteed.

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