Companies seeking work on mega-project to be held responsible for suppliers’ ethical practices.
Companies wanting to earn a slice of the £16bn Crossrail project will have to adhere to strict requirements laid down by the Greater London Authority for “ethical sourcing” in addition to long established requirements for environmental sustainability.
Ethical sourcing places a responsibility on contractors to ensure materials they supply are sourced from markets or companies that have minimum standards of labour practices. These include ensuring workers in these markets enjoy freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining, that child labour isn’t being used, and that workers receive a living wage.
Mike de Silva, sustainability manager with Crossrail, said: “We are driving this issue at Crossrail through the formation of the Ethical Supply Chains in Construction Working Group. This group brings together procurement specialists from all of our Tier 1 contractors, allowing them to work collaboratively at addressing ethical sourcing in their supply chains.”
He added: “Implementing ethical sourcing throughout the project is very much a step-by-step journey. Our aim during the tenancy of Crossrail is to get our Tier 1s to continuously monitor their supply chains so that the message goes out that ethical sourcing is a crucial aspect of working on major projects in the UK. The idea is to work with the supply chains to start addressing these issues in a realistic step-wise manner.
Although Tier 1 contractors have signed up to the requirements, many hard-pressed subcontractors in their supply chains are likely to view the measures as yet another additional administrative cost at a time when the industry remains under pressure.