Although the World Confederation of Labour (WCL) was dissolved after 88 years –on 31 October 2006– along with the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions to form the new International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), the following assessment, published on April 2004 by the WCL, remains in our resources section given the permanence and relevance of its critique. Succinctly, the report exhibits the paradox generated by the support of voluntary codes of conduct by most governments, which in itself makes the regulatory nature of governments a moot point and of the corporate concept of CSR a mockery of truly responsible business practice.
ANALYSIS FROM THE WORLD CONFEDERATION OF LABOUR
CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSABILITY AND CODES OF CONDUCT: NEW STAKES OR OLD DEBATE?
According to the WCL, public institutions, corporations and some sectors of organized civil society seem to agree that CSR is the essential element of current and future social policies, globally and in all sectors.
This agreement is developing at a period when corporations and the world economic market itself are going through serious ~internal crisis. The evidence of this is several socially as well as ethically "irresponsible" practices: fraudulent deals, dubious acquisitions, accounting fraud, very high salaries for managers, non-respect for essential values, deregulation or divisions between financial and economic activities.
Instead of laws, international conventions or collective bargaining agreements, the various stakeholders involved speak highly of the codes of conduct, social labels, social sponsoring or other voluntary initiatives.
Paradoxically, authorities at the national and international levels also support the objective of social responsibility. Paradoxically, because this strategy, the outline and definition of which remain vague, questions the regulatory and arbitration role of the State and the authorities.
Through this publication, the WCL carefully analyses this concept with the purpose to take stock of this debate and to evaluate the consequences on national or international instruments, on standards on the future of these legislative and contractual rights and on the content of social policies. Based on its conclusions, the WCL provides several lines of action and recommendations.
Download the pdf of the full report here or the French version here.