By Martha Guarnieri, ILRF Corporate Greed intern
On June 5, 2008, 35 prominent international, national, and local organizations have endorsed a broad agenda for transforming the big box retail industry. The “Consensus Standards for Big Box Industry” lays out twenty specific standards covering worker rights; the environment; purchasing practices; community and cultural rights; and corporate citizenship, governance, and political activity. The consensus has been released in time for the Wal-Mart shareholder annual meeting on Friday, June 6 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
The document was drafted by the Big Box Collective, which brings together labor rights, environmental, public health, and consumer advocates to challenge the current big box retail model of business. The prominence of labor rights in the Consensus Standards is an important step for labor activists internationally. Three labor standards that the document lays out include respect of basic labor rights, adherence to the highest internationally recognized labor and human rights standards, and the payment of livable wages and reasonable benefits. The placement of these alongside other standards emphasizes the importance of labor in the broad agenda of improving ethics and practices of big box retail industries.
The document also identifies strategies that governments and citizens can employ to eliminate incentives for irresponsible corporate behavior and promote humane business standards. Government strategies include proper allocation of funding with regards to zoning, research, economic preservation, and labor rights. Citizen strategies include organizing to lobby local, state, and federal government to adhere by fair practices as well as promote education about the rights of citizens in controlling corporate behavior. The consensus will be delivered to officials of all major big box retail corporations and will function as framework to define and guide the broad-based civil society movement looking to transform the industry.
For more information about the “Consensus Standards for Big Box Industry”, visit http://bigboxcollaborative.wikispaces.com/space/showimage/Consensus+Standards+-+June+3%2C+2008.pdf.