The EU law passed in Brussels could “transform the lives of millions of exploited workers”, says the European Freedom Network.
Evangelical Christians in Europe who work against human trafficking and commercial exploitation have expressed their “delight” after the European Parliament passed “a strong text” on corporate due diligence.
Last week, the European Freedom Network (which unites 270 small organisations) encouraged Christians to contact Members of the European Parliament (MEPS) to make sure they would vote in favour of this new directive.
Thenew EU law could “transform the lives of millions of exploited workers” not only in European countries but “indeed the world”, the EFN has told Evangelical Focus after analysing the 182-page document passed by a majority in Brussels.
The directive requires more companies to do due diligence. It demands that if some kind of human exploitation is discovered in the supply chain, the first action should be to improve the situation, not just automatically cut the business relationship. “This is important because cutting the relationship could lead to victims losing their jobs on top of everything else they are suffering”, the Christian group says.
In this new context, a living wage is demanded for all workers, and victims of exploitation will have “better access to justice, protection from reprisals, information regarding their rights and the potential support of their trade union or civil society”, according to the analysis of EFN members.
The evangelical platform uniting groups working on the ground and doing advocacy in 44 countries says they are “particularly pleased” that one of the amendments they pushed for in the days before the European Parliament plenary session was accepted by the MEPs. It is a “common pecuniary sanction for serious failings which shall be not less than 5% of the net worldwide turnover of the company in the business year preceding the fining decision”. This is “important so that a business doesn’t choose to relocate to an EU country where the sanctions are lighter”.
The oversight over businesses with the new directive might seem strong, but the EFN believes this is needed if the legislation is to be effective. “Fine words are not enough if victims of exploitation cannot get justice, they lose their jobs or they remain in desperate poverty”.
The European Parliament, European Commission and the European Union member states will now negotiate the final wording of the due diligence directive.
EFN says it will launch a campaign shortly to encourage people “to pray and also to urge their national governments to aim for legislation which will actually work”.