International: Respecting human rights at work

Seven years ago, a factory fire in Karachi, Pakistan killed hundreds of people who produced garments also for the German market. Fire safety measures at the Ali Enterprises factory were inadequate: The main customer from Germany had shown very little interest in the working conditions on the premises of its supplier.
This factory fire is not an isolated case: The supply chains of German enterprises consistently reveal cases of exploitation and environmental damage. To finally bring about change, the “Supply Chain Act Initiative“, an alliance of 64 non-governmental organizations was founded to fight for a legal framework. Both Kolping Germany and KOLPING INTERNATIONAL have become part of this initiative.

Its goal is to oblige German enterprises by law to respect human rights and environmental standards. In addition, this initiative wants companies to be held liable for damages that could have been avoided if they had taken reasonable care. The alliance launched a petition to force the German government to take initiative and to follow the example of other countries in Europe.
“Intuitively, almost all consumers in Europe know that the cheap prices of T-shirts, electrical appliances or other products from other continents do not reflect the real costs. Quite often, the production of those goods has detrimental effects on people and the environment in the countries of the Global South where the factories are located”, underlines Dr. Markus Demele, General Secretary of KOLPING INTERNATIONAL.
We continue to receive reports on burning factories, exploitative child labour or destroyed rain forests. This proves that European enterprises will not act of their own accord and they are not sufficiently aware that they need to take responsibility. The German government must establish a legal framework to make sure that companies no longer accept exploitation and environmental damage.  In the next few months, all Kolping members will be invited to become actively involved in this initiative by signing, for example, the petition at the following link: