On April 2nd, researchers of the LeidenAsiaCentre (LAC) released their preliminary research report on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in the textile industry and construction sector, which they presented at press centre Nieuwspoort in The Hague in front of a large and diverse audience, including representatives of businesses, universities, NGOs, the Dutch government, and parliament.
This project aimed to analyse the functioning of CSR in value chain responsibility in Asia, both on paper and in practice. It was executed in collaboration with the Asser Institute.
After an introduction by Remco Breuker, initiator of the project, professor in international labour law Paul van der Heijden called labour exploitation a “multi-headed beast” that was very difficult to tackle. Despite the many CSR initiatives that companies have undertaken over the past years, the actual implementation and execution of these measures remains troublesome.
During the session, LAC researcher Rosa Brandse first presented the findings of the first case: the M4 highway in Pakistan and discussed how despite the existent labour laws, local labourers have little to no legal protections and whose wages are often withheld. Following her presentation, Michael Lee introduced the second case, which discussed how North Korean textile can end up in Dutch stores.
The presentation was concluded by a panel discussion between Klara Boonstra, professor at the VU Amsterdam and director of the scientific bureau of the PvdA; Sjoerd Sjoerdsma, member of parliament for D66; and Ruben Zandvliet, advisor environmental, social and ethical risk and ABN Amro.
Read more about the research on the project page, or download the full report from the website of Leiden University.
The convent for sustainable clothing and textile (IMVO) responded to the report stating that it “deepens understanding of the risks” associated in doing business in the border region between China and North Korea.
Dutch news agencies also picked up on the story, with Remco Breuker being interviewed by BNR News Radio and the Reformatorisch Dagblad. The Financieel Dagblad also reported on the research. Finally, the Fair Labour Association posted an issue brief discussing the findings of the research.
In addition, the report was mentioned and summarized in the Report of the Council of Foreign Affairs (MFA) of April 8, 2019 to the Dutch parliament. The Cabinet commits itself to using the outcomes of the report to better comply with international labour laws.