NIKCOL~1.txt from Nike's web site; created on Friday, June 19, 1998 5:38:13 PM; Modified Saturday, February 14, 1998 2:13:52 PM copied by Boje as NIKEcollbargain (File History).
NIKE: FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION AND
NIKE’s Code of Conduct provides that NIKE will seek to do business with contractors that recognize the rights of workers to freely associate and bargain collectively -- which in its simplest form means that we believe workers should have the opportunity to form unions and negotiate with management on a collective basis.
By including this in a Code of Conduct, NIKE is not telling its contractors that there needs to be labor unions in every factory with which NIKE does business. What it does say is that NIKE wants to do business with factory owners that understand and recognize these rights and will not illegally interfere with workers legal efforts to exercise these rights.
While the rights of freedom of association and collective bargaining are two of the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) core labor standards and are widely accepted and implemented by most governments, some countries, either by law or practice, only recognize government sanctioned unions and prohibit independent unions.
This poses problems for companies who endeavor to respect these rights, but need, for commercial reasons, to do business in these countries. It is not realistic nor wise to ask companies to divest from these countries. Divesting would only lead to further unemployment and hurt the very workers these rights are trying to assist. Rather, it is more effective to stay invested in these countries and build greater recognition for these rights.
It is clear that getting these governments to recognize these rights cannot be done by companies alone. There are important roles for governments and for international labor unions to move these rights forward. It is important to recognize that one company nor one industry can force a government to change their national labor laws – that kind of clout does not exist. But responsible companies can and should promote these rights from where the companies have the most impact – on the factory floor. The best way to do this is for companies to include freedom of association and collective bargaining in a code of conduct, explain and train factory management and workers what the provision means, and monitor the provision to ensure that it is not being violated.
Although it may take time, if pressed through in codes of conduct, training and monitoring, workers and management in these countries will begin to understand the importance of these rights and will do more to exercise and respect them. Over time, thisese understandings will spread to other factories and these rights will be advanced become more recognized throughout the country.
International trade unions and governments must also share in this effort. Advocacy by governments who believe that these rights should be upheld globally is a tremendously powerful tool. They can press intransigent peers to recognize these rights through international forums and other forms of diplomatic pressure.
International labor unions can also actuate these governments through direct contact and international forums such as the ILO. The process will take time. But to be effective, it has to be a 3-party process, with government, organized labor and industry each playing a role.But even more important and in many ways much more effective, is that the governments who advocate for international recognition of these rights and the international labor unions who have a vested interest in ensuring these rights are upheld, have critical roles to play. Governments can press these intransigent governments to recognize these rights through international forums and other forms of diplomatic pressure. International labor unions can also actuate these governments through direct contact and international forums such as the ILO. The process will take time. But to be effective, it has to be a 3-party process, with government, organized labor and industry each playing a role.
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