SAI 1 is a multi-stakeholder organisation that established SA8000 standard for decent work 2 , a set of standards which companies and factories use to measure their social performance, which is subject to certification. SA8000 is grounded on the principles of core ILO conventions, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. SA8000 is used in over 4,600 factories, across 56 countries and 58 industrial sectors 3 .

The Social Accountability Accreditation Service (SAAS) is responsible for monitoring the use of the SA8000 standards and for accrediting and monitoring certification bodies carrying out SA8000 audits. 4

Complaint mechanisms 5

SAAS manages the complaints filed regarding the performance of a certified organization.

Who can file a complaint?

Any interested party may file a complaint.

Process and outcome

Before addressing a complaint to the SAAS, the complainant has to go through the internal complaints procedures of the facility concerned. If it is not addressed at this stage, the complaint should be filed with the Certifying Body. The complaints should be filed with SAAS after all other avenues for hearing complaints have been exhausted or the complainant feels that their concerns have not been investigated and addressed properly.

To be accepted for review, SAAS will review each allegation for acceptability. The allegation/s is then progressed through a triage and evaluation process, resulting in the development and execution of an appropriate action plan. As a result, SAAS may elect to investigate an accredited CB or certified facility’s actions (as appropriate) through a scheduled or unscheduled audit, document review, or other such actions.

In Action – Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) complaints against Del Monte Kenya ltd. 6

In February 2005, SAI received a complaint from KHRC, citing clause 9 in the SA8000 Standard, concerning human rights violations, poor corporate relations between Del Monte and the neighbouring community, and the complacency of the company in addressing these issues. The complaint was forwarded to Coop Italia, a Del Monte customer and SA8000 certified company, and to SGS, the certification body. Due to organisational changes within the company, the certification had been suspended by SGS just before the complaint reached SAI. However, surveillance audits were conducted in March 2005 and in June 2005 and a recertification audit was conducted at the facility in January, 2006. During its audits, SGS identified initiatives that the company had undertaken to address community engagement, conducted interviews with Union representatives and individual workers. SGS did not find specific violations against the requirements of the SA8000 Standard, though some minor issues were identified and corrective actions recommended. During the recertification audit, a meeting was organized with a representative from KHRC. Overall, in his opinion, the company and its management were adopting a positive attitude towards the community. The company was officially re-certified in March 2006. This complaint was officially closed in August, 2007. The Certification Body has continued to be in contact with the initial complainant throughout the surveillance process at the facility.

At the time, the complaint led to important improvements. Del Monte started respecting the union agreement (CBAs). Unions and workers obtained more space to exercise their right to organize and workers previously retrenched before the complaint were compensated. Jobs were evaluated and workers paid accordingly (for jobs of equal value); housing conditions were proved and a plan of action was designed to ensure continuous improvement in the future. However, these turned out to be short term impacts that were unfortunately not sustained in the long term. There were ongoing allegations of violations (notably by workers) stating that the company is no longer respecting the CBA nor the job reevaluation plan that was agreed. Workers alleged being victims of threats and intimidation from management and unfair dismissal of union leaders (for retrenchment reasons according to the company).

This type of situation clearly reflects the limitation of such settlement mechanisms and the necessity for States hosts to take measures to establish regular and adequate systems of inspection which guarantee the respect of human rights by the companies.