Our objective is to ensure good working conditions that are sustainable over the long term. This is why we have defined our company’s guiding principles on fair working conditions and social partnership. These principles are based on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the core labour standards of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) as well as the 3 main principles of the Resolution on Forced Labour by the Consumer Goods Forum. They also help us to refine our corporate principle of being a responsible employer. Our guiding principles deal with issues such as free unionisation, the right to collective agreements, the prohibition of forced labour, child labour and discrimination, structured working hours and wages as well as occupational health and safety.
We ensure that our sales lines and their national subsidiaries comply with the principles relating to fair working conditions by auditing our head offices, outlets and logistics centres and work on developing a joint action plan together with our colleagues on-site. Financial year 2016/17 saw extensive audits on compliance with the METRO principles conducted in the METRO/MAKRO Cash & Carry national subsidiaries in Pakistan, Bulgaria, China, Japan and Hungary. Many areas returned encouraging results, while others have potential for improvement, in particular in the area of occupational safety. All on-site audits were followed by a comprehensive training in the METRO principles relating to fair working conditions. Audits are scheduled for a further 6 METRO/MAKRO Cash & Carry national subsidiaries in financial year 2017/18.
We place great emphasis on a smooth and open dialogue between our employees, employee representatives and managers. To facilitate this dialogue, METRO plays an active role at the annual UNI Global METRO Alliance conference, which was held at the head office of UNI Global Union in Nyon in November 2016. Employee representatives met with METRO management representatives in Berlin to discuss their views on developments within METRO in the various countries.
It is planned to introduce a new committee to assume the function of an European works council. The agreement is envisaged to be put into place by a negotiating committee comprising the elected representatives of the works councils in the EU countries where METRO operates, union representatives and the METRO management. Initial negotiations were conducted in September 2017.
METRO has also persevered in the social dialogue with the works councils and unions and encouraged its management team to engage in a continuous dialogue about our business with our employees and their representatives and to also solicit their feedback. This allows us to create an open and trusting working environment, in which our employees feel empowered to share their ideas and needs. This dialogue resulted in several collective employment agreements at the level of business units, countries or individual outlets – depending on local laws and customary practices. Out of 25 METRO/MAKRO Cash & Carry national subsidiaries, employees in 22 countries are now actively organised in a union. Collective agreements were put in place in 15 countries. Additionally, all Real outlets have elected and organised work councils.