The Joint Audit Cooperation (JAC) is a collaborative initiative between telecom operators committed to drive sustainability and respect for human and labour rights in their supply chains. JAC Guidelines make clear that “any form of forced, bonded, compulsory labour, slavery or human trafficking” is strictly prohibited in our supply chain. JAC is deeply concerned by any and all allegations of forced labour, in any region of the world. JAC strongly urges suppliers to ensure they carry out due diligence and respond to JAC members’ questions concerning any reports of forced labour in their operations and supply chains, sharing with JAC members what active measures they have taken, and their plans going forward, to make sure that forced labour is not used anywhere and at any time.

The telecom industry provides crucial connectivity for almost every business, home and consumer. The industry is supported by an extensive and complex global supply chain, which has a significant environmental, economic and social footprint.

JAC is currently monitoring reports alleging forced labour of ethnic minority citizens. Each JAC member is in such cases expected and committed to act in accordance with the JAC Guidelines that are based on international standards, which includes performing ongoing human rights due diligence as a starting point. It is the responsibility of every business to respect human rights throughout the value chain, as spelled out in the ‘UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights’ (the UNGPs). A wide range of potential actions are outlined by the UNGPs, including influencing a supplier individually or together with others to increase leverage. For JAC main expectations on suppliers, see Appendix. Exiting supplier relationships are highlighted as the last resort.

Nevertheless, detection of human rights violations relating to forced labour and human trafficking is complex and difficult since they are often hidden, and affected people may be unable to speak up. Impartial and transparent audits can play a part in uncovering these risks which require specific analytical skills and experience as well as the ability to speak the language of workers during interviews. Challenges with access as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic have made onsite visits and audits more difficult to carry out in recent times.

Audits are JAC’s main tool to prevent and detect forced labour. In light of recent reports of forced labour, we are taking additional steps, by strongly urging JAC suppliers to respond to JAC members’ questions in relation to forced labour when requested. We also urge suppliers to be as transparent as possible, sharing their findings, views and plans publicly with all stakeholders, locally as well as internationally. JAC also encourages our suppliers to provide opportunities for their employees to be able speak up anonymously.

JAC members will individually engage with suppliers which are implicated in reports about forced labour and trafficking. It remains up to each JAC member to decide on how to act on the information received, in line with their commitments as JAC members.

JAC has a dedicated task force set up to monitor human rights violations.  It will continue to improve our approach to detect and remedy issues found and support its members in their efforts to address any forced labour in their supply chain.

The Joint Audit Committee is an association of telecom operators aiming to verify, assess and develop the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) implementation across the manufacturing centers of important multinational suppliers. JAC members share resources and best practices to develop long term Corporate Social Responsibility implementation in the different layers or tiers of the Supply Chain globally. More information about the JAC here.

Appendix – JAC expectations on suppliers

JAC expects all suppliers to;

  • Maintain a view in relation to reports on forced labour, from NGO’s as well as others, relevant to their sector and regions of operations;
  • Act to understand if workers in their supply chain are involved in forced labour, especially in contexts where there are allegations of forced labour;
  • Fully investigate such allegations and confirm that forced labour is not taking place and that workers are not working under coercion;
  • Act to remove suspect labour sources from its supply chain should the supplier not be able to establish that workers are not involved in forced or coerced labour;
  • Respond to JAC members’ questions concerning any reports of forced labour in their operations and supply chains; and
  • Act transparently by sharing with JAC members details of measures they have taken, and their plans going forward, with the aim to make sure that forced labour is not used anywhere and at any time.