Stockholm (NordSIP) – Following an incident several months ago in which a Dutch freight service, Brinkman Trans-Holland, subcontracted to Ikea was caught underpaying foreign truck drivers eight times less than the legal minimum rate in the Netherlands, furniture retailer Ikea has taken action auditing its contract line, according to a brief at SupplyChainDrive. It has also launched a management program for its sub-distributors engaged in outsourced transportation, Lloyd’s Loading List reported last week, “focusing on ensuring minimum wages, fair working hours and adequate rest times for all drivers.”
The UN Global Compact 2017 “Business Solutions to Sustainable Development” Progress Report, released just last week, found that 57% of larger companies cited driving sustainability and corporate responsibility through supply chains as the main challenge to sustainable development. “Significant proportions of the people whose needs are targeted by the SDGs – those whose human rights are furthest from being realized – are affected by global supply chains,” the report stated, adding:
“780 million women and men who are working are not earning enough to lift themselves and their families out of poverty… It is necessary that business implement labour, social and environmental standards and human rights in line with internationally recognised frameworks, such as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the ILO Tripartite Declaration on Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy.”
With truck driver’s rights “notoriously overlooked” in global supply-chain activities, Ikea, which is also in talks with the International Transport Workers’ Federation, the union working to eradicate exploitation from the European supply chain, is stepping up CSR efforts in its logistics operations.
The move is being seen as an acknowledgement by Ikea that supply chain inefficiencies must be addressed with the utmost seriousness and that sustainable development resides as much within the stability, health and rights of its stakeholders as it does with CO2 emissions or supplier training.
Betting on Electric Vehicles
In related news, acting Head of Sustainability Pia Heidenmark-Cook revealed Ikea’s gamble on electric vehicles at an event during New York Climate Week last week. 355 Ikea stores on 30 different markets are set to switch entirely to electric car transportation and infrastructure.
“The initiative concerns our own vehicles at the department stores and offices, but it also includes the partners who take care of our home deliveries,” Ms Heidenmark-Cook told the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter. “Moreover, we will install charging pods at all department stores to encourage both our employees and customers to switch to electric vehicles.”
Ikea is joined in its EV drive by Unilever, DHL, HP, Baidu and Swedish energy company Vattenfall in the so-called EV100, a coalition of ten global corporates that announced its support for EVs last week. For Ikea, the initiative, which stretches out towards 2030, is a launchpad for further investments:
“We are also looking at the possibility of investing in companies that promote the transition towards electric cars, or entering long-term partnership to show that this is important,” Heidenmark Cook told Dagens Nyheter.
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