South Africa Case Study: Changing labor practices at Mondi Forests, South Africa. (J.M. Clarke)
The focus of this case study is the social impact of labor outsourcing at Mondi’s forestry operations in South Africa and the role of FSC certification in mitigation of negative impacts and as a force for reform. The main actors are Mondi, a large international forestry company, forestry contractors and forest workers. Between 1997 and 2001, Mondi outsourced all forestry operations to contractors. Labor outsourcing impacted negatively on working conditions and led to an increase in occupational injuries and fatalities, productivity decline, labor absenteeism and turnover, and a labor shortage. In 2002, Mondi began to introduce reforms to address problems arising out of the contracting environment. FSC certification was not effective in driving labor reforms beyond compliance with statutory minimum conditions. In addition, despite reforms, the condition of forest labor in South Africa still fall short of the International Labour Organization (ILO) definition of “decent work” (ILO, 1999). The criteria, indicators and verifiers of FSC Principle 4 need to be reviewed and updated to provide for decent work in a contracting environment. More stringent oversight is needed to ensure regular updating and review of FSC checklists to reflect improved norms and standards nationally and internationally.
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