REWE Group obtains a large number of products and product components through supply chains that may extend across several countries. The risk of incidents of child labour or forced labour is an important consideration in procurement.
To permanently integrate sustainability into its company processes, REWE Group has developed an all-encompassing sustainability strategy that is made up of four main pillars: Green Products; Energy, Climate and the Environment; Employees; and Social Involvement. The Green Products Strategy 2030 was adopted in 2017 in a move to more strongly anchor sustainability within procurement processes. In the action areas of people, animals and the environment, the trade and tourism company designs effective measures to reduce environmental and social impacts as part of the Green Products commitment. Child labour and forced labour has been identified as a focal point within the area of action of people. REWE Group strives to systematically combat the practices of child labour and forced labour.
Child labour is deemed exploitative when children under the age of 13 perform light work for more than a few hours a week, or when children under the age of 15 perform work that is hazardous or strenuously hard. In many high-risk countries, bans on exploitative child labour are inadequately enforced and cases are inadequately pursued.
Forced labour often manifests itself as a restriction of freedom of movement, withholding of wages and personal papers or as indebtedness to an employer or job centre. Legally and illegally immigrated migrants and temporary workers are frequently victimised, and forced labour often goes unreported, making it difficult to monitor.
The Guidelines for Sustainable Business Practices of REWE Group apply to all business relationships of the REWE Group. The guidelines are based on the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the conventions of the International Labour Association (ILO) and UN Global Compact. These set out bans against forced labour, thus no person may be forced against his or her will into employment or forced to work under threat of any kind of punishment. In addition, prohibitions of exploitative child labour are also anchored in the Declaration and Conventions. REWE Group upholds child labour standards established by the ILO and under national laws of the respective countries. REWE Group reserves the right to apply sanctions when the values set forth in the guidelines are deliberately and flagrantly breached.
As a member of amfori BSCI, REWE Group has committed itself and all of its suppliers and producers to uphold the amfori BSCI code of conduct and promote adherence with the relevant principles. Among other things, this includes observing bans on exploitative child labour and forced labour. Together with its suppliers, REWE Group works continuously to improve labour and social standards.
In the Guidelines for Ethical Business Practices published in early 2019, REWE Group outlined its commitment to strengthening human rights and improving working conditions within the supply chains for all store brand products of REWE, PENNY and toom Baumarkt DYI stores. The company focuses on the issues of child labour, forced labour and living wages. The Group has also published various Guidelines for Focus Raw Materials These outline specific challenges and requirements for REWE Group suppliers in response to these, which in part concern the issues of forced labour and child labour.
Standards for Enforcing Bans on Child Labour and Forced Labour in Raw Material Production
REWE Group observes internationally recognized certification standards for opposing the practices of child labour and forced labour on the level of production of raw materials and ensuring socially acceptable working conditions. The main certification organisations are Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance, UTZ, Cotton made in Africa and Naturland. These certifications ensure that higher standards are met in raw materials production and provide greater transparency in supply chains. Child labour and forced labour are banned under these standards. For the raw material palm oil, the standard established by the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is of central importance in ensuring that no child labour is utilised on palm plantations.
Social Auditing to Monitor Compliance with the Ban on Child Labour and Forced Labour in Processing and Production
To monitor compliance with the ban on child labour and forced labour in processing and production, social audits are regularly carried out, principally applying the amfori BSCI standard. All production facilities in defined risk countries on the first supply chain level are reviewed in these audits. Both announced and unannounced audits are carried out. The company audited is then assigned a rating based on the audit findings. If child labour or forced labour is obviously in use, the company audited is not assigned an overall rating but rather blacklisted on the basis of a zero tolerance principle. The amfori BSCI zero tolerance mechanisms for such cases require the following: The auditor issue a warning notice, stops the audit and gathers evidence proving the violation. The violation is then reported to the amfori BSCI Secretariat within 24 hours of its discovery. Within 48 hours of assertion of the allegation, the Audit department reviews the facts in the case, the evidence and the professional qualifications and competencies of the auditor. Within 72 hours of discovery, all amfori BSCI participants concerned form an ad hoc response group to determine the further course of procedure and initiate measures, the implementation of which is monitored.
Incidents of child labour and forced labour are not tolerated, and REWE Group thoroughly investigates and pursues any such cases. To be able to react quickly to cases of child labour, REWE Group has cooperated with the children’s rights organisation Center for Child Rights and Corporate Social Responsibility (CCR CSR) since 2018. The organisation advises companies on implementing policies and programmes for ensuring the upholding of children’s rights in supply chains. Through this cooperation, REWE Group benefits from the expertise and network of the organisation and is able to engage in dialogue with relevant stakeholders within the working group and employ the tools developed. As a member company, REWE Group is able to utilise the CCR CSR Rapid Response Service: In an actual case of child labour discovered during the reporting period, CCR CSR was asked to review the situation on the ground and talk to the young people affected, a contact person, the auditors and representatives of the production site. This enabled suitable response and prevention measures to be drawn up, the implementation of which has since been continuously monitored.
A complaint mechanism system will enable REWE Group to ensure that improper actions or circumstances in supply chains can be reported, including instances of child labour or forced labour. REWE Group is already conducting a review of what production sites have whistleblowing mechanisms in place for staff. In addition, the complaint mechanisms implemented by standard-setting organisations (for raw materials) and the amfori complaint mechanism (for processing and production) can be used for cases of child labour or forced labour. The amfori BSCI zero tolerance mechanism is triggered in response to such cases.