Three years of intense debates and political compromises have passed since the European Parliament kicked off the process for drafting the first-ever transnational law on due diligence, which would turn the respect of environmental standards, human, workers and trade unions’ rights mandatory all along global supply chains. From industrial workers in the Global South to broad coalitions of businesses and NGOs in Europe, millions of people have raised their voices to say “enough”. “Enough” to decades of soft law regulation through codes of conduct, charters, or “comply or explain” mechanisms which have failed to anchor socially responsible management in companies’ DNA.

These millions of voices felt heard when all three EU institutions reached a political comprise in the early morning of December 14, 2023 for an EU law which was said to see the light of day after just a few formalities, including last formal votes at the EU Parliament and Council. IndustriAll Europe and IndustriALL Global Union welcomed the news and reiterated their commitment to implement mandatory due diligence in companies through social dialogue and full trade union involvement.

Yesterday’s news of several Member States flipping positions at the Council’s vote to eventually block the formal adoption of the EU Due Diligence law thus came as a shock. With EU elections looming, there are only two weeks left for EU political leaders from Germany, Italy, France, Sweden, Finland and other doubting Member States to resume talks and agree to stick to their promises.

Judith Kirton-Darling, General Secretary of industriAll Europe, said:

“The time when companies could make profit out of the exploitation of the environment and on the back of their own and/or their suppliers’ workers’ fundamental rights around the world must end!

“IndustriAll Europe has always been a strong advocate for a Social European Union which delivers quality jobs and social progress through democratic, transparent and inclusive decision-making process. We will not accept that EU political agreements could be so easily jeopardised by counter-bargaining and opportunist games happening behind closed doors. “We urge EU political leaders to stick to their own agreement and adopt the Due Diligence Directive NOW!”

Atle Høie, General Secretary of industriALL Global Union, said:

"Seldom has a European Directive had the potential to change the world of trade to such a degree. IndustriALL Global Union truly regrets the EU inability to stand by its long overdue compromise. We ask the institutions to work hard to get the HRDD directive back on track, so that finally we can have a serious attempt to overcome the haphazard way business deals with fundamental trade union rights."