4 February, 2015This Valentine’s Day, the world’s largest jewellery retailer is challenged to clean up its supplier of dirty diamonds. International coalition of labour and environmental groups call upon Signet to put its money where its mouth is on responsible sourcing. Sign the LabourStart campaign here.
This Valentine’s Day, IndustriALL Global Union, London Mining Network, Earthworks, and LabourStart are challenging the world’s biggest jewellery retailer Signet to demand that its major diamond supplier, multinational mining company Rio Tinto, clean up its mining practices so that they respect worker rights, indigenous peoples and the environment.
With global sales of US $6 billion annually, Signet’s 1,400 Kay and Jared jewellery shops are in every US State, 1,600 Zales stores are throughout the US and Canada, and 500 H. Samuel and Ernest Jones shops are visible on UK high streets. The National Retail Federation anticipates that twenty-one per cent of US shoppers will gift jewellery to their loved ones on Valentine’s Day this year, fuelling US jewellery sales of nearly US $5 billion.
The coalition is calling on Signet to abide both by its own Responsible Sourcing Policy, and its 2006 public endorsement of the No Dirty Gold campaign’s Golden Rules for more responsible mining. Signet’s Responsible Sourcing Policy declares the company “committed to the responsible sourcing of our products and the respect of human rights, and we expect the same from our suppliers around the world.” Endorsement of the Golden Rules, endorsed by over 100 jewellery retailers around the world, commits signers to pressure their suppliers to come into compliance with the Rules -- which are drawn from broadly accepted international human rights laws and basic principles of sustainable development.
But Rio Tinto is a notorious violator of labour rights, communities, and the environment.
Rio Tinto’s campaign to undermine workers’ fundamental organizing and bargaining rights has recently been documented in the report Rio Tinto and ‘Direct Engagement’. The company’s abuse of human rights, communities and the environment has recently been profiled in the report Unsustainable: The ugly truth about Rio Tinto.
Although the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC) has certified Rio Tinto, unfortunately the RJC is highly flawed. It is neither independent – it is governed by industry, excluding labour, civil society and impacted communities. Nor is it transparent – it is impossible for the public to determine whether an RJC-certified company complies with RJC’s own certification requirements, let alone international human rights and environmental standards.
IndustriALL Global Union general secretary Jyrki Raina states: “Until Rio Tinto drastically changes its ways, the company will sully the reputations of all its major business partners. Signet is no exception. Signet says that its involvement in non-independent business-run social auditing programmes is a sufficient response to our concerns. This is insulting to all those affected by Rio Tinto’s anti-social conduct, not least Signet customers.”
Earthworks’ No Dirty Gold campaign director Payal Sampat declares: “Nobody wants their symbol of love made with gold or diamonds that harmed ecosystems or communities. Signet can’t provide a meaningful guarantee that its jewellery isn’t made with dirty gold or gems. It’s high time that the world’s largest jeweller cleaned up its supply chain.”
Richard Solly, Co-ordinator of London Mining Network, said: "Rio Tinto has a long history of violating indigenous peoples' land rights, dividing communities, polluting land and water and attacking unions.
There are continuing real concerns about the human and environmental impacts of its copper and gold mining operations at Oyu Tolgoi in Mongolia, and at Grasberg in Papua, where its violations of indigenous peoples’ rights and environmental destruction led the Norwegian Government’s state pensions fund to disinvest.”