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New alliance for grievance mechanisms in supply chains puts employees at the centre

By Simone Preuss


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Business |Interview

Shipping port. Credits: Kua Chee Siong /St_Singapore Press Holdings via AFP

A new alliance for grievance mechanisms in supply chains wants to establish an international grievance management system together with retail companies and their suppliers. A pilot project for fruits and vegetables will launch in Spain together with partners Kaufland, Edeka, Migros, Markant, Aldi Nord, Aldi Süd, Rewe and Lidl in the first quarter of 2024. FashionUnited spoke to the former managing director of the agricultural certification body Global Gap Kristian Möller, who is now with the German Retail Institute (EHI) and head of the project called Appelando.

Through his work on Global Gap solutions, Möller has gained more than 20 years of experience with farm quality assurance systems, which have been introduced and established. These have now become an international system and benchmark for safe and responsible practices on farms around the world.

Dr. Kristian Möller. Credits: EHI

Since 1st June 2023, Möller has been entrusted by the EHI Retail Institute with setting up a grievance mechanism that meets the requirements of the German Supply Chain Due Diligence Act (SCDDA).

Mr. Möller, how would you describe Appellando in one sentence?

The initiative wants to create the possibility for employees in farming and production companies to be able to point out grievances in social and environmental standards in their companies in a neutral system.

How far has the project advanced?

There have already been more than ten meetings with the retail companies and there are eight different working groups that meet regularly - I have already led a total of more than 100 hours of online working groups. The first multi-stakeholder workshop took place in Madrid at the beginning of June and the second one at the beginning of October, also in Madrid.

Are there plans to extend the initiative to other sectors, such as textiles for example?

The project has been conceptualised as an international grievance management system that is not limited to a specific industry. If there is already a critical mass for the textile industry now, then it is quite possible to develop this in parallel. There are already some enquiries.

How does the grievance mechanism work?

It is more than a helpline, a branded outreach programme, so to speak, with a call centre, but it goes beyond telephone contact; there will also be an app. Its scope is based on the German Supply Chain Law (LkSG) and covers issues such as wages, child labour, discrimination (sexual, racial), environmental issues and more.

Where is it applicable?

In the factory, the shipping centre or later the garment factory. Employees can make use of the grievance mechanism, after which the relevant companies are informed about the complaint. NGOs are then contacted by the retailers and intermediaries. Then, a trusted person will visit the respective company and conduct interviews and analyse the situation. Accordingly, solutions will be worked out. This will also lead to statistics so that companies can compare different countries.

In conclusion, what would you say makes this initiative unique?

It is about creating a standard, a short supply chain and eight principles developed according to the basic principles of the ILO, UN and OECD. Local initiatives are involved, but also the technology providers. Overall, the focus is on the employees. This involvement of the workers is key.  
Supply Chain