Successful wrap up to week of events in Barcelona

On November 28-29th, the CWC convened more than 100 worker-nominated trustees and trade unions from over 15 countries in Barcelona, Spain, to engage with asset managers, the PRI and to elevate the profile of freedom of association in the investment chain. This was the first global in-person gathering of the CWC since the 2019 Paris Conference.

On Monday November 28th, the CWC Secretariat organised a Spanish trustee roundtable jointly with CCOO and UGT where it convened two Spanish asset managers, Caixa AM and Banco Sabadell, to discuss how the managers fare in relation to the Baseline Expectations for Asset Managers on Fundamental Labour Rights. The 2022 Conference kicked off on the afternoon of November 28th when a dialogue was held with the CEO of PRI, David Atkin. At that event, the CWC reiterated its desire for the PRI to maintain clarity on its mandate as an asset owner led organisation, at a time when asset manager membership has eclipsed asset owner count. The Conference keynote speech was delivered by the Chair of the International Sustainability Standards Board, Emmanuel Faber, who welcomed the engagement of the CWC with the ISSB and who hinted to the integration of the “S” using the TCFD template. Day 1 concluded with a discussion on trustee leadership with perspectives from Denmark, South Africa, Australia, and the Netherlands.

Day 2 kickstarted with a progress report on the asset manager accountability initiative, moved to examples of the just transition to a low carbon economy and ended with the launch of the CWC report “Shared Prosperity: The Investor Case for Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining ”. The Asset Manager Accountability panel illustrated the CWC’s theory of change, with examples of trade union rights violations in Turkey being brought to the attention of asset owners and with asset owners engaging with their asset managers so that those managers could use their influence and drive positive outcomes for workers on the ground. Tools used in private markets to uphold labour rights, including labour rights charters (e.g., IFM in Australia) and responsible contractor policies (e.g., CalSTRS) were discussed. Case studies of the just transition to a low carbon economy were presented by Spanish and Australian participants. Tripartite collaboration between trade unions, employers and governments underpins the good practice in Spain; investors can add value to this process by encouraging investee companies to engage in tripartite collaboration in good faith.

The CWC had strong visibility at PRI in Person, held from November 30th- Dec 2nd, thanks to the participation of UNI Global’s Lisa Nathan on the plenary on human rights and to the side event to launch the new CWC publication on Freedom of Association. The side event, opened by PRI CEO David Atkin, featured a worker from an Amazon fulfilment centre, representatives from Danone, Columbia Threadneedle and UNI Global Union. It was delivered to a full room comprised of PRI in Person asset manager and asset owner delegates.

Christoffer Jonsson, the CWC chair, closed the CWC Conference by committing to stepping up strategic communications in the new year so that the Committee could increase its profile.