French law is being used to force a road transport and logistics multinational to take the necessary steps to stamp out human rights abuses in its supply chain, in the first case of its kind.
The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) and an alliance of unions are bringing the action against XPO Logistics Europe using the French Corporate Duty of Vigilance Law. It has never before been used to hold to account a global transport company.
The law holds businesses to certain obligations in relation to the human rights of their workers, local communities and others affected by their operations around the world. The law is French and is being used against a French company, but its reach is global because the company's obligations apply equally to the operations of its foreign subsidiaries and to its international business relationships.
XPO's major European arm comes within the remit of the Vigilance Law and must execute, implement and publish an adequate vigilance plan. An ITF analysis has found that XPO’s current vigilance plan does not fulfil the requirements of the law.
ITF legal director Ruwan Subasinghe emphasised the significant nature of this action: “This is a landmark move. Never before have trade unions from across the world come together to serve formal notice on a multinational company for the enforcement of legal obligations in relation to its human rights due diligence. Not only does this have repercussions in France, but along the company's supply chain relationships with suppliers and subcontractors wherever they are in the world.
“The global trade union movement has lobbied hard for workers in supply chains affected by companies to be able to use the law to take their complaints directly to the company at the top, and this is what these worker representatives have done in this case.
“This sends a clear message that hiding behind subcontracting is not a sustainable business model. Tools like this empower workers to demand transparency and further action, and they will.”
The ITF has given XPO the three months permitted under the law to fulfil its obligations or the ITF and its partners will bring this matter before the relevant jurisdiction in France.
CONTACT: Andy Khan-Gordon, ITF communications officer, +44 (0)7711 356 964, firstname.lastname@example.org
This release comes with a two-page explanation of the law, how the ITF and its partners are using it and background on the business practices of XPO Logistics.
THE XPO GLOBAL UNION FAMILY: is made up of trade unions from France, the UK, Spain, Belgium, the USA and Italy. Their goal is to get XPO to engage in dialogue at a global level to achieve decent standards, including good industrial relations, in all countries of operations.
ABOUT THE ITF: The International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) is a democratic global union federation of 665 transport workers trade unions representing 20 million workers in 147 countries. The ITF works to improve the lives of transport workers globally, encouraging and organising international solidarity among its network of affiliates. The ITF represents the interests of transport workers' unions in bodies that take decisions affecting jobs, employment conditions and safety in the transport industry.
ABOUT THE ETF: The European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) embraces transport trade unions from the European Union, the European Economic Area and Central and Eastern European countries. The ETF represents more than five million transport workers from more than 230 transport unions and 42 European countries