A Modest Proposal for Mediating Code of Conduct Challenges

TitleA Modest Proposal for Mediating Code of Conduct Challenges
Publication TypeReport
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsZack, A. M.
Date Published11/2008
InstitutionNYU School of Law
CityNew York
Keywordscode of conduct, globalization, job protection, mediation, worker’s rights

[Excerpt] Globalization has brought many changes in workplace job protection. One has been increased attention paid to the fact that many jobs which had been performed by workers with statutory and collective bargaining protections in industrialized nations are now being performed by workers in countries which fail to provide comparable levels of workplace protection. The urge of local factories to maximize their profits has often outpaced their willingness to adhere to generally accepted levels of workplace fairness. This is facilitated in many countries by the unwillingness, disinterest, or incompetence of the officials of such host countries to fully implement their own laws or even the international labor standards accepted as norms by promulgation of ILO conventions.

Many of the brand name companies which have taken advantage of the subcontracting and outsourcing opportunities in developing countries have developed Codes of Conduct as commitments to investors and consumers that they will assure compliance with fair labor conditions in the factories which produce for their markets. Most of these Codes provide internal or external monitoring to assure compliance with their proclaimed standards.

This paper suggests the adoption of a complaint procedure culminating in mediation as a preferred procedure for
1. Enhancing factory adherence to codes
2. Increasing consumer and investor confidence in the Brands’ pursuit of code compliance
3. Reassuring local workers that the factories in which they work will be held to compliance with Code standards
4. Assuring local communities of the sincerity of the brand providers in protecting local workers
5. Encouraging a sense within the local communities of the importance of fair working conditions, even in the absence of diligent local law enforcement
6. Initiating the local development of a team of respected mediators to resolve disputes over code compliance
7. Empowering local universities and NGOs charged with the establishment of such a mediation facility
8. Promoting local rule of law by providing a greater measurement of enforcement for standards of workplace fairness.
9. Furthering the development of private voluntary dispute resolution in localities and countries where existing statutes and legal process are suspect, corrupt or ineffective
10. Setting an example of private dispute resolution machinery with potential applicability to other arenas of conflict such as statutory enforcement or resolution of commercial disputes