Social standards

Integral part of sustainable management

In the framework of METRO GROUP's sustainability management, the relevant ecological as well as social challenges of trade and retail are continually identified. Essential parts are fair working conditions and the compliance with social standards within the supply chain. METRO GROUP does not allow its suppliers to engage in forced labour, child labour or any other form of exploitation. That means suppliers have to respect the ILO (International Labor Organization) core norms. For years, these prohibitions have formed an integral part of the General Terms and Conditions for Purchasing at METRO GROUP. Ever since, the monitoring of social standards has become an ongoing process within the company.

Farmer in Greenhouse

An approach to achieve humane working conditions

Indian Receptionists

In 2008, METRO GROUP Buying Hong Kong set up a systematic approach to request all suppliers for non-food imports (goods for resale) to provide for a verified social standard audit report or certification of the production facilities used for the production of these goods in a risk country.

All METRO GROUP sales lines today also follow this systematic approach in order to include all suppliers and all its production facilities for non-food own brands (goods for resale) in a social compliance system, and to achieve acceptable social standards according to the core norms of the ILO.

The Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI)

METRO GROUP is one of the founding companies of the Business Social Compliance Initiative BSCI, committed to improving working conditions in the international supply chain. By now the initiative has become one of the largest and most efficient systems for implementing safe and humane working conditions in emerging markets and developing countries. The BSCI takes an international and socially holistic approach. From multinationals to SMEs, BSCI unites companies around one common Code of Conduct applicable to all sectors and sourcing countries. All BSCI participating companies commit to implementing the BSCI Code of Conduct and a corresponding control system as part of their business relations with producers in risk countries. This underlines commerce's engagement to improve working conditions (including fire protection) at supplying factories and farms. Within the framework of the BSCI, producer and suppliers from determined risk countries that supply companies in the EU market with non-food products such as clothing, shoes, toys, equipment and food, are audited and supported in the implementation of improved working conditions.

The BSCI Code of Conduct is a set of 10 principles built upon the most important international conventions protecting workers' rights, notably the ILO Core Labour Conventions and Recommendations.

The main goals of the BSCI Code of Conduct for producers and their employees are:

  • freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining are respected
  • no discrimination is practised
  • child labour is prohibited
  • legal minimum and/or industry standards wages are paid
  • working hours are compliant with national laws an do not exceed 48 hours regular and 12 hours overtime
  • there are no forced labour and disciplinary measures
  • the workplace is safe and healthy
  • the environment is respected
  • there is a policy for social accountability
  • there is an anti-bribery and anti-corruption policy

The risk country list is defined by the BSCI. The classification as a risk country is, in addition to the field experience of sourcing companies, based on the Human Development Index of the United Nations and the Corruption Perceptions Index of Transparency International.

BSCI Liste der Risikoländer , PDF 0.48 MB

Accepted standards and certificates

Additionally to the BSCI (Business Social Compliance Initiative) standard METRO GROUP accepts additional standards and certification schemes to prove compliance with social standards. Some of the standards are only accepted on the condition that all corrective actions are closed:

  • SA8000 (Social Accountability)
  • ICTI (International Council of Toy Industry)
  • ICS (Initiative Clause Sociale)
  • ETI (Ethical Trading Initiative) when carried out according to the SMETA guidelines (Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audit)
  • EICC (Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition)
  • FLA (Fair Labor Association)

Additionally METRO GROUP accepts the following food related standards as a first step towards ensuring compliance with social standards:

  • RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil)
  • ASC (Aquaculture Stewardship Council
  • BAP (Best Aquaculture Practices)
Overview accepted standards, PDF 0.15 MB

Bangladesh Fire Protection Initiative

Indian Clothes in Store

In June 2013, METRO GROUP signed an agreement for better fire protection and more building safety in the textile industry in Bangladesh. By doing so, the company has committed itself to contribute further towards creating a safe and sustainable textile industry in Bangladesh.

The targets of the fire protection agreement are high-reaching: inspections have to be conducted in around 1600 factories, and the inspection reports processed accordingly. Political conditions and cultural differences in the production country play an important role in the successful implementation of the fire protection policy. To this end, METRO GROUP liaises closely with the chief initiator of the agreement, the Clean Clothes Campaign, and with the international trade unions UNI Global Uni and IndustriALL Global Union, as well as with others who signed the agreement and supporters of the initiative. The ultimate aim of all involved in the multi-stakeholder initiative is to make the supply chain in Bangladesh safer and more sustainable, step by step.

Guidelines and management systems for compliance with humane working conditions

METRO GROUP was deeply shocked by the disasters in various textile factories in Bangladesh. Although there were no direct business relations with the factories involved, the company, at the end of 2012, was prompted by the incidents to further develop its guidelines and management systems for compliance with humane working conditions in the supply chain, which had already been in existence for many years. In February 2013, for example, METRO GROUP’s purchasing organisation MGB Hong Kong began, in addition to our ongoing auditing programmes, to cooperate with TÜV Rheinland to implement fire protection and work safety training courses for suppliers in Bangladesh and other countries.

Via the MGB Hong Kong, METRO GROUP works with some 1200 factories in Asia. For many years, the majority of these (more than 900) have been located in China. With regard to the manufacture of textiles in Bangladesh, METRO GROUP has always taken the approach of only cooperating with a few select factories, since the working conditions in many cases do not comply with the company's high standards. The procurement organisation operates its own office with local employees in the capital city of Dhaka. These employees regularly visit the factories and monitor issues such as fire safety. All factories with which we cooperate in Bangladesh have successfully passed the Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI) control checks. Fire protection is one aspect of the BSCI demands. In particular, these include fire protection precautions and management systems such as emergency exits, emergency escape routes, fire extinguishers and fire drills. By signing the fire protection agreement, we have been able to further extend our commitment to better working conditions along the supply chain.

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