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COTANCE and industriAll share leather’s health and safety initiatives

European Union leather industry body COTANCE and trade union organisation industriAll Europe presented their views on workplace health and safety in Europe’s tanneries at a wide-ranging event hosted in Paris at the end of January by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The 2018 OECD Forum devoted a number of sessions to the need for manufacturers in Europe’s footwear and garment industries to carry out due diligence on health and safety in their supply chains.

COTANCE secretary general, Gustavo Gonzalez-Quijano, and industriAll-Europe deputy secretary general, Sylvain Lefebvre, told the OECD audience about joint initiatives they have developed to foster due diligence and workplace safety in the leather industry.

Together, the two bodies, who refer to themselves as “social partners”, developed a code of conduct in 2000 and tools for social and environmental reporting in 2011, for risk assessment in tanneries in 2013, and for transparency and traceability in 2015. Last year, they conducted a specific tannery workplace safety project.

They said the positive effect on the leather industry in Europe of these exercises is “undeniable” and claimed that initiatives they have developed together constitute “an efficient and cost-effective alternative to private schemes that are more of a feature in the textile sector”.

The session devoted to leather also included a presentation from the University of Northampton on a survey it has facilitated on workplace safety and an overall introduction to the leather value chain from UNIDO representative Ferenc Schmél. Other panellists included Chiara Morelli of Kering and Maria-Teresa Pisani from the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe.

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