ICFTU/ITGLWF/FIET 25 August 1999

Comparison of the provisions of the "FIFA Code of Labour Practice" and the "WFSGI Model Code of Conduct".


While the agreed text of 3 September 1996 establishes a binding policy on suppliers at all levels and establishes compulsory minimum standards, the WFSGI Code is presented as being only a recommendation to member companies (who are encouraged to draw up their own codes building on the contents of the WFSGI code). Further, the WFSGI Code tends to diminish to importance of internationally accepted standards by referring to "different legal, economic, social and cultural environments".

The FIFA code indicates a specific scope of application, specific expectations concerning implementation and monitoring, explicitly mentions sanctions and provides a means of interpretation. These aspects are necessary for any code to be credible.

With respect to the specific provisions, the most striking difference between the FIFA and WFSGI codes is in the area of the fundamental ILO standards - the FIFA code explicitly cites the relevant ILO Conventions concerning discrimination, forced labour, child labour, freedom of association and collective bargaining. This concern is partially addressed in FIFA's licensing agreements by incorporating a reference to the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Rights and Principles at Work and its Follow-up. Because the ILO Conventions are accompanied by jurisprudence, their meaning, and hence the meaning of the FIFA code with respect to these provisions, is clear. The wording chosen by the WFSGI for these provisions is not always clear. For instance, the provision on forced labour uses the word "employ" and not "use". This could be taken to mean that if a company does not directly employ forced labour, but does source goods from suppliers which do employ forced labour, the WFSGI Code would appear to permit this. Given the high prevalence of multi-level subcontracting in the sporting goods industry, this issue is of particular relevance.

The section on discrimination does not cover the kind of discrimination (race, religion etc.) but only areas (recruiting, training etc.) where there should be no discrimination.

In the WFSGI code, freedom of association refers only to joining associations (trade unions are not mentioned) and the right to collective bargaining is not a provision. It should be noted that, by virtue of their membership of the International Labour Organisation, all member states are deemed to be bound to respect the ILO standards concerning freedom of association and collective bargaining. The section on child labour provides a definition similar to convention 138 but, because it does not cite this convention, there is potential for misunderstanding the intent, and hence the situations where the provision applies. Once again the word "employ" rather than "use" is chosen.

With respect to wages, the WFSGI code contains some provisions that are not found in the FIFA code (method of payment, overtime, deductions). Nevertheless, the FIFA code includes the concept that, regardless of the law or of industry practice, wages must meet basic needs. The WFSGI code does not include this concept.

With respect to hours of work, the WFSGI code provides for paid annual leave and the FIFA code does not. On the other hand, the FIFA code includes the concept of "industry standards" and the WFSGI code does not.

With respect to health and safety, the WFSGI code has more details but the FIFA code is far better because it obliges the company to promote "the best occupational health and safety practice bearing in mind ... knowledge of the industry and of any specific hazards."

Importantly, the WFSGI code has a provision concerning physical, sexual, psychological and verbal abuse and the FIFA code does not. The WFSGI code also has vague provisions concerning the environment and community involvement and the FIFA code does not.

Finally, the WFSGI code does not address the abuses and exploitation arising in situations where there is no established employment relationship. This is a critical element in the exploitation and abuses that have given rise to codes of labour practice in the first place. The FIFA code specifically addresses this issue. The incorporation of specific language in FIFA's licensing agreements to "subcontracting .... at any stage of the production process" goes some way towards addressing this issue with respect to FIFA's Denominations programme.