The Federation of Egyptian Industries (FEI) and the ILO support the transition from "Corporate Social Responsibility" to "Responsible Business Conduct" – Child Labour a case in point

News | 31 March 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic pushed an increased number of children into child labour including its worst forms. The United Nations General Assembly announced 2021 the year to eliminate child labour and invited all relevant constituents to play their part in this collective action.

Contributing to a national response, a partnership was established between the ILO project “Accelerating the Action for the Elimination of Child labour in Global Supply Chains” (ACCEL Africa) and the Federation of Egyptian Industries (FEI), Egypt’s largest employers’ organization. ACCEL Africa is a Dutch funded regional project focusing on the Cotton Supply Chain in Egypt and seeks to improve and enforce the policy, legal and institutional frameworks to address child labour and institutionalize innovative and evidence-based solutions addressing the root-causes of child labour.

The purpose of this partnership is to improve the private sector’s compliance with international labour standards, especially in training and employing children safely, following good practices for responsible business conduct. In this respect a series of workshops are organized entitled “Transition from Corporate Social Responsibility to Responsible Business Conduct”. A first workshop took place on 23rd & 24th March 2021 in Alexandria, while a second workshop will take place in Cairo on the 7th & 8th of April 2021.

37 participants from companies operating in the textile and readymade garment sector in Alexandria and Beheira governorates, which already have apprenticeship programmes attended the first workshop. The workshop covered a wide array of international labour standards and Responsible Business Conduct instruments, which will improve the compliance of exporting companies with these instruments.

The workshop also included an introduction on shifting from CSR to responsible business conduct, reducing child labour and reducing the companies’ impact on social and environmental dimensions. It also highlighted the important role that the private sector can play in supporting the national and international development agenda, in particular the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 8.7 regarding ending child labour, forced labour and modern slavery by 2025.

This activity is a starting point for developing a customized consultancy and advisory programme that will include assessing companies’ existing responsible business practices, formulation and preparation of an action plan to implement CSR strategies, and building CSR governance structures to combat child labour.