Complaints and disputes
The TruStone Initiative launched an independent Complaints and Disputes Committee in March 2021. A person that is adversely affected by a company that is part of the Initiative can reach out to the Committee.
The Committee has its proper information page where one can consult who the members of the Committee are and one can find a current state of affairs of pending cases and a list of rulings that were handled.
Why a complaints and disputes mechanism?
An effective complaints and disputes mechanism is the sixth and final step in the due diligence process, in which companies are required to provide access to or cooperate in remediation. It is through this mechanism that all stakeholders in the supply chain (such as workers, or people living near factories or quarries) can make their voices heard. It also ensures that companies really get to know what is going on in the field of social, human and environmental rights.
What is the purpose of the complaints and disputes mechanism?
The Complaints and Disputes Committee ensures that complaints and disputes are handled confidentially in an accessible manner. Examples of this are:
- complaints from injured parties;
- disputes between parties of the Initiative;
- disputes between a company and the secretariat.
A complaint exists when an interested party in the chain makes a report. In contrast to a mechanism that involves weighty legal processes and often results in reputational damage, the Complaints and Disputes Committee will put dialogue first and thus emphasize the importance of the learning process within this covenant.
It may also be that a Party of the Initiative or the secretariat does not agree with the progress or execution that a member company makes in its due diligence process. In this case there is a dispute. Again, every effort is made to resolve this in mutual consultation, possibly together with the Steering Committee and a mediator. The Complaints and Disputes Committee will be used as a last resort to resolve a dispute.
The intention is that participating companies receive an objective opinion from experts about how negative impact can be prevented or tackled.
By cooperating with the Complaints and Disputes Committees of other covenants, expertise will be commonly developed and shared. The cooperation will also promote awareness of this mechanism.
How does the Complaints and Disputes Committee work?
Every year, companies map out their supply chain and check whether there are any risks in to the environment or in the field of social and human rights. During the assessment interviews, the secretariat will also draw attention to problems that occur in the chain, insofar as they are known. Although this process takes place carefully, it is still possible that the Stakeholders involved in the chains of companies report the negative impact they experience to the Complaints and Disputes Committee.
The Committee will then make a judgment on the degree of responsibility of the TruStone Initiative member company, depending on the damage done to people or the environment. The Committee does this entirely in accordance with OECD guidelines. Depending on the degree of responsibility, the adhering company will be reminded to make the best possible contribution to reducing that negative impact or to ensure recovery. If it concerns negative impacts caused by a company, for example if it co-owns a factory, the Complaints and Disputes Committee will decide on a way to repair this damage. In the case of an adhering company linked to a negative impact through a supplier of its direct partner, the Committee will comment on how the company can use its influence.
Companies probably still have some questions about the complaints and disputes mechanism. Do not hesitate to ask them through the secretariat: InitiatiefTruStone@ser.nl.