Workers’ capital can be mobilized through collective organizing and action. Unions and trustees around the world participate in the Global Unions’ Committee on Workers’ Capital (CWC), which was established in 1999 to promote discussion and action on the responsible investment of workers’ capital. In countries such as Australia, the Netherlands and the United States, networks of union representatives and trustees work together to drive this agenda forward. In Canada, the CCSN provides a forum to foster stronger capital stewardship practices and connect Canadian unions and trustees with global networks.
Driving decent work in private markets
Pension fund allocation to private markets – including real estate, private equity, infrastructure and unlisted assets – is on the rise. These asset classes comprise a specific set of risks to decent work and workers’ rights that are distinct from public equities.
The CCSN is undertaking an initiative to encourage pension funds to implement proactive measures to promote safe, sustainable and responsible business practices. Among these measures are Responsible Contractor Policies (RCPs). RCPs encourage and support fair wages and protections for workers employed by a company’s contractors and subcontractors. They are used to set clear expectations in sectors that include janitorial and building services, construction, manufacturing, public sectors and hospitals.
Many public sector pension funds and asset managers in the United States with large real estate holdings have developed RCPs.
If you are a trustee interested in learning more, please click here to contact the secretariat.
Voting for a change in company practices
Shareholders in publicly traded companies hold the right to vote on issues that are put forward by corporate management and shareholders at annual general meetings. Proxy voting rights are an asset of the fund and provide an important opportunity to align workers’ capital with decent work and contribute positively to a company’s long-term value.
Some shareholder resolutions specifically address decent work issues such as occupational health and safety practices, precarious employment and labour standards. The CCSN circulates proxy alerts on specific resolutions that are important to workers and mobilizes trustees to ask that their fund or equities manager votes accordingly.
To receive our proxy alerts, click here.