On 1 October 2019, the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) and a global alliance of national trade unions served formal notice on XPO Logistics Europe under the French Corporate Duty of Vigilance Law.
The law holds businesses to certain obligations of vigilance in relation to the human rights of their workers, local communities and others affected by their operations around the world.
The ITF had given XPO the three months under the law to fulfil its obligations and respond to the formal notice, but the company has come back with a statement that they believe they have already fulfilled their obligations with a two-page section in their 2019 annual report.
However, the ITF set out clearly in the detailed notice served on the company how this two-page section is an entirely inadequate attempt to fulfil their legal requirements and does not comply with any provisions of the Law. The few paragraphs are severely lacking, and we are disappointed at XPO’s refusal to engage and improve its plan. It is abundantly clear to us that this meagre attempt cannot begin to fulfil the requirements of the innovative French law that intends to hold businesses to account for activities along their international supply chain.
ITF legal director, Ruwan Subasinghe, commented on XPO’s failure to respond as required under the law: “The ITF has given XPO the three months permitted to produce a revised vigilance plan that is adequate according to French law.
“The network of trade unions concerned by XPO’s practices in relation to labour protections has been very reasonable in limiting its demands to what could have practicably been achieved by the company in this time, rather than immediately requiring the company to take all of the steps required to satisfy the law. It is clear that the legislation requires significantly more of the company than we have at this first stage.
“We want to see real change in the company’s transparency and engagement with the local unions, as required by law. The XPO global union family offered open communication, collaboration and assistance to the company from the outset, as set out in the letter of formal notice.
“It is unacceptable that the company would come back after three months simply to insist on its compliance, without further engagement. We are therefore seeking legal advice in France and preparing to take next steps in accordance with that advice.”