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Joe Barkley from Kaleen sent us and a lot of other media outlets a press release announcing their certification to SA8000®.

SAI Logo“I believe this to be the single most important honor a manufacturer should strive to receive and we are extremely proud of the recognition of over forty years of achievement for our manufacture team and the dedication and commitment of the Rathi Family”, said Joe Barkley, Executive Vice President of Kaleen, “Kaleen’s social commitment has been a primary focus since Mr. Rathi started the company in 1964.”

[A version of this article was published in March, 2013 in Volume 33, No. 6 of Rug News andDesign Magazine.]

The Rug News andDesign definition of Social Responsibility applicable to the hand made rug industry is: “Empower women, educate children and provide healthcare in a safe working environment at a fair wage.”

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We have become aware of a certification process for Corporate Social Responsibility, called SA8000® provided by an organization in New York City working through country specific affiliates called “Social Accountability International (SAI). We felt it worthwhile to share the underlying structure of the SA8000® standard.

We have reviewed their IRS form 990 and affiliations cited. The founder is an Ashoka Global Academy Member, which is the highest level of affiliation with Ashoka, one of the earliest of all social responsibility and social entrepreneurship organizations.

Their website is www.sa-intl.org. The following material is reprinted from their website: The SA8000® standard is the central document of our work at SAI. It is one of the world’s first auditable social certification standards for decent workplaces, across all industrial sectors. It is based on conventions of the ILO, UN and national laws.

The SA8000® standard spans industry and corporate codes to create a common language for measuring social compliance. Those seeking to comply with SA8000® have adopted policies and procedures that protect the basic human rights of workers. The management system supports sustainable implementation of the principles of SA8000®: child labor, forced and compulsory labor, health and safety, freedom of association and right to collective bargaining, discrimination, disciplinary practices, working hours, remuneration.

SA8000® Elements
1. Child Labor: No use or support of child labor; policies and written procedures for remediation of children found to be working in situation; provide adequate financial and other support to enable such children to attend school; and employment of young workers conditional.

2. Forced and Compulsory Labor: No use or support for forced or compulsory labor; no required ‘deposits’ – financial or otherwise; no withholding salary, benefits, property or documents to force personnel to continue work; personnel right to leave premises after workday; personnel free to terminate their employment; and no use nor support for human trafficking.

3. Health and Safety: Provide a safe and healthy workplace; prevent potential occupational accidents; appoint senior manager to ensure OSH; instruction on OSH for all personnel; system to detect, avoid, respond to risks; record all accidents; provide personal protection equipment and medical attention in event of work-related injury; remove, reduce risks to new and expectant mothers; hygienetoilet, potable water, sanitary food storage; decent dormitories- clean, safe, meet basic needs; and worker right to remove from imminent danger.

4. Freedom of Association and Right to Collective Bargaining: Respect the right to form and join trade unions and bargain collectively. All personnel are free to: organize trade unions of their choice; and bargain collectively with their employer. A company shall: respect right to organize unions & bargain collectively; not interfere in workers’ organizations or collective bargaining; inform personnel of these rights & freedom from retaliation; where law restricts rights, allow workers freely elect representatives; ensure no discrimination against personnel engaged in worker organizations; and ensure representatives access to workers at the workplace.

5. Discrimination: No discrimination based on race, national or social origin, caste, birth, religion, disability, gender, sexual orientation, union membership, political opinions and age. No discrimination in hiring, remuneration, access to training, promotion, termination, and retirement. No interference with exercise of personnel tenets or practices; prohibition of threatening, abusive, exploitative, coercive behaviour at workplace or company facilities; no pregnancy or virginity tests under any circumstances.

6. Disciplinary Practices: Treat all personnel with dignity and respect; zero tolerance of corporal punishment, mental or physical abuse of personnel; no harsh or inhumane treatment.

7. Working Hours: Compliance with laws & industry standards; normal workweek, not including overtime, shall not exceed 48 hours; 1 day off following every 6 consecutive work days, with some exceptions; overtime is voluntary, not regular, not more than 12 hours per week; required overtime only if negotiated in CBA.

8. Remuneration: Respect right of personnel to living wage; all workers paid at least legal minimum wage; wages sufficient to meet basic needs & provide discretionary income; deductions not for disciplinary purposes, with some exceptions; wages and benefits clearly communicated to workers; paid in convenient manner – cash or check form; overtime paid at premium rate; prohibited use of laboronly contracting, short-term contracts, false apprenticeship schemes to avoid legal obligations to personnel.

9. Management Systems: Facilities seeking to gain and maintain certification must go beyond simple compliance to integrate the standard into their management systems and practices.

[A version of this article was published in March, 2013 in Volume 33, No. 6 of Rug News andDesign Magazine.]

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