What is a code of conduct and why does it matter?

published 17-01-2013 13:55, last modified 25-04-2013 14:49
Successful campaigning by the Clean Clothes Campaign and other labour rights’ organisations has led many businesses to adopt “codes of conduct,” a list of standards that companies expect from suppliers. Company codes vary by content as well as commitment. The CCC pushes companies to give these codes real meaning by including provisions for implementation, monitoring and verification, and dispute resolution.

The Clean Clothes Campaign considers a code of conduct good if the scope is clear and it extends to all garment-making units in the entire subcontracting chain. The CCC's model code of conduct for the garment industry is comprised of the core labour standards of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and several additional standards. These include: freedom of association and the right to organise; the right to bargain collectively; a living wage; maximum limit on hours of work; healthy and safe working conditions; security of employment; no discrimination; no forced labour; and no child labour. Read the Clean Clothes Campaign Model Code.

A code of conduct can be a strategic tool for getting companies to comply with international labour standards. The CCC has campaigned to hold companies accountable for promises they have made in their code of conduct. While codes of conduct are no substitute for adequately enforced protection under national law, they can offer workers leverage for demanding better working conditions and are a first step in the long road toward eliminating abuses in the garment industry.