IndustriAll Europe and IndustriALL Global in collaboration with, IG Metall, and the Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung, hosted a two-day conference in Istanbul, Turkey. The event, served as a platform for experts, union leaders, and stakeholders to examine the implications of the German Supply Chain Due Diligence Act and its significance for Turkish workers, specifically within the automotive sector supply chain.

The conference titled "Fundamental Workers’ and Trade Union Rights in Turkey, Vol. 2” featured detailed discussions, informative presentations, and engaging dialogues on the issues surrounding the automotive supply chain and its complexities as it relates to due diligence. They also questioned how trade unions can make use of the new supply chain due diligence legislation in Germany and prepare for the upcoming EU legislation.

Deputy General Secretary of IndustriAll Europe, Judith Kirton-Darling, shed light on the critical juncture at the EU level concerning legislation relating to human rights due diligence. She stressed the need for this legislation to evolve into an effective tool for the trade union movement.

“It is important to put a strong emphasis on the necessity of building internal capacity and streamlining processes to guarantee that the legislation translates into tangible action on the ground.” 

Kemal Özkan IndustriALL Global assistant general secretary, set the tone for the conference by emphasizing the historical backdrop of workers' rights struggles in Turkey. He acknowledged the tough challenges faced by Turkish workers and highlighted the importance of safeguarding fundamental rights, particularly within the intricate web of global supply chains.

“It is imperative that we collaborate and plan strategically among unions to ensure the effective implementation of human rights due diligence laws.” 

Henrik Meyer, Head of Turkey Office at Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, offered valuable insights into the German Supply Chain Due Diligence Act and its far-reaching impact on Turkish-German business relations. He explained that this legislation introduces stringent regulations for multinational companies.

“We spoke about the new legislation in very theoretical terms in volume 1 of this conference but a year later we are going to discuss the legislation in more practical terms,”.

Company representatives from Audi AG emphasized the role of grievance mechanisms in ensuring transparency and accountability within supply chains. Ayça Gözmen Yalçın, Managing Director of DEinternational Servis Hizmetleri A.Ş., highlighted the challenge of effectively communicating the German Supply Chain Due Diligence Act and similar legislation to a diverse range of stakeholders.

The critical role of risk analysis in supply chain due diligence was discussed. Helmut Philipp from Ford-Werke GmbH illustrated the complexity of risk analysis in a company with over 14,000 suppliers, emphasizing that a solid approach was needed to ensure a good risk analysis.

The conference featured presentations on projects designed to bolster the implementation of the German Supply Chain Due Diligence Act. These projects underscored the significance of accountability, transparency, and legal compliance around Responsible Business Conduct, aligning with the overarching objectives of the German law.

IndustriALL Global and industriAll Europe Affiliates from various sectors in Turkey shared their expectations regarding the German legislation. While cautiously optimistic, they articulated the challenges posed by political and economic interests.

Turkish affiliates also expressed their commitment to the cause of defending workers' rights and remained committed in their belief that even incremental progress can bring about a substantial positive change.

In conclusion, organizers stressed the imperatives of prevention, capacity building, and proactive engagement to harness the full potential of the German Supply Chain Due Diligence Act and prospective EU legislation as powerful tools for defending workers' rights.

The importance of trust, both among stakeholders and within the trade union movement, was highlighted as an essential element in the collective effort to empower workers and fortify global supply chains.

The conference gathered insights and provided an invaluable platform for dialogue on pressing issues concerning workers' rights, corporate accountability, and the ever-evolving landscape of supply chain due diligence.

After 1.5 days of in-depth discussion on the technical aspects of the impact of due diligence legislation and its ramifications for Turkish workers, trade union representatives collectively convened to strategize on the path forward.

“Our aim is clear: to ensure the effective implementation of these laws, transforming them into real-world safeguards for workers worldwide,” said Georg Leutert IndustriALL automotive director.