Industry funds Vision Super and Statewide Super, alongside Australian Ethical, have joined a coalition of investors worth US$4.53 trillion calling on Amazon to enter a dialogue on labour rights in its operations and supply chain.
The monolithic tech and consumer goods company, which employed 647,500 employees last year, had long faced scrutiny on its treatment of workers in both developed and Western countries, including reports of dire conditions and that it retaliated against workers who attempted to organise or strike.
The three funds signed a letter from the Investor Alliance for Human Rights urging Amazon to explain its new supplier code of conduct, how this reflected the standard imposed in the International Labour Organisation’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, and how it’s implementing the code.
As well as the ethical importance of abiding by workers’ rights, Vision Super said it signed the letter as acting on social issues within a company such as working conditions was important to optimise net risk-adjusted returns.
“Social considerations [are] an important factor that drives companies’ long-term performance. We want to understand Amazon’s approach to human and labour rights, and how it might affect their trajectory, and our members’ investment,” the fund’s chief investment officer, Michael Wyrsch, said.
“A positive approach to labour rights, such as the right to join a union of your choice, is really important for reducing risk and driving productivity in an organisation – and in the end, that means better returns for our members.
“The new supplier code of conduct is a step in the right direction. We’re asking Amazon to enter into a dialogue about it to help us learn more as investors.”