Strengthening the value chain through worker participation. Summary of our international event in Sevilla (13th June 2023)

Jun 16, 2023 | News | 0 comments

During the past week, the international event of the Ethical Trade Forums Association took place, held in Seville and Murcia on June 13th and 15th respectively, and in which the issue of strengthening the value chain through worker participation was discussed.

The Seville meeting, with a total of 75 attendees, had active and dynamic participation from all the participants, who enjoyed a full day with a varied agenda, combining presentations, expert panels, and workshops. Among the representatives, we had presence from a multitude of stakeholders, so important to the sector, such as production companies, importers, trade unions, worker representatives, supermarkets, NGOs and foundations.

We started the day with an opening and welcome message from the director of the Forums, Sergio Barberá, followed by a message from Imogen Wright (Lidl) and Emma Henry (BerryWorld) on the importance of maintaining the integrity of each stakeholder of the supply chain, promoting good practices and communication amongst shared challenges. Afterwards, we had the pleasure of listening to Sara Petersson from the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) and her presentation on ETI, her areas of work and the importance of collaboration and due diligence to promote human rights in global supply chains.

Next, Victor Serrano (Ethical Trade Forums) accompanied by some participants from the working groups, updated the attendees on the progress and work plans that are underway.

After a well-deserved rest to regain strength, Juan Antonio Millán (Fundación Buena Cultura del Agua y los Regadíos en Huelva), Romualdo Macías (S.Coop. Costa de Huelva), and Pedro Díaz (Infocultivo) held a small panel on the situation on the use of water and good irrigation practices that are underway in the province.

Next, the new centralized grievance mechanism of the Ethical Trade Forums was presented by Sergio Barberá and Victor Serrano. Together with a collaboration with technology company Ulula, we hope to provide a state-of-the-art mechanism at a very competitive price for producers and all the links in the value chain, complemented by a training plan for its correct and effective implementation and an ethics committee that supports companies in the most difficult cases.

We also enjoyed an interesting panel of experts where Rosa María Dominguez, (representative of the worker committee from SAT Síntesis), Sara Petersson (ETI), and Mercedes Jaffe (Driscolls), contributed ideas and experiences on the impact of participation of workers in actions focused on the continuous improvement of social conditions.

After the lunch break, we had the pleasure of listening to Seydou Digo (ASNUCI) and his successful housing project for temporary homeless workers in Lepe, as the first in the province, and it made us reflect on how current problems regarding the shanty town living conditions for seasonal workers can be solved if there is will and desire to do so.

As usual, we hold two workshops in parallel. One on the importance of the participation of middle managers in detecting and addressing problems, in collaboration with our partner Stronger Together and its Co-CEO Jantine Werdmüller von Elgg. In this workshop, the participation of managers and their motivational styles was discussed, and the link was found in the importance that they have in the company’s responsibility to detect and address situations described by Stronger Together. An important theme that came up was that crew managers/supervisors in some companies are not given the importance or the necessary recognition for the important role they have and that this may be causing them to become demotivated or do not feel supported.

In the second workshop we delved into the LEAF Marque environmental standard, led by Abbey Holman (LEAF Marque) and Juan Pons (independent consultant and Q-CERT auditor). The objective of the workshop was to present the standard, its principles, and the spirit in which it has to be implemented. The dynamics of this workshop were carried out using three principles of the standard with a practical case to be discussed by groups, providing the context, information and documentation necessary to comply with the requirements set by LEAF Marque. The groups dealt with the topics of fertilization & soil management, water management, and landscape and nature conservation.

After a day packed with great speakers and even more interesting presentations, Carrie Worsley (ASDA) and Tamara Iriberri (S&A Produce) put the icing on the cake by collecting the main conclusions of the day, which include the importance of collaboration between actors of the supply chain and especially the presence of the workers to ensure that the human rights and due diligence strategies work.

From the Ethical Trade Forums, we appreciate the participation and would like to give a heartfelt thank you to all the speakers and the attendees who, once again, participated very actively.