Stories From the Field 

SAI Technical Dir. Badri Gulur Tells How SA8000 Affects a Family

 
SAI Technical Director, Badri Gulur

At SAI, we are always thinking about how our projects and programs are improving the lives of workers in a very practical sense. And it is often the stories from the field that make these impacts more readily apparent and personal. In this installment of "Stories from the Field", SAI Technical Director talks about one of the first times he came face-to-face with the very real impacts of the SA8000 Standard implementation. It was at a factory in Andhra Pradesh, India.

 

SA8000 Impacts Story:


Remembering 1999, when the SA8000 Standard was still new and in its formative stages, there were early stories of how the standard added value to the lives of the workers, their families and the community.  As the Lead Auditor and Country Manager for SA8000 at Bureau Veritas, I was fortunate to have experienced the process for the first ever certification to the SA8000 Standard in many countries. One such experience was an SA8000 certification in the State of Andhra Pradesh, India. The company had arranged a ceremony to celebrate their expansion and opening of a new plant. They invited several dignitaries, including me and my team, as the event coincided with our surveillance audit visit.

  

The Factory Manager spoke about the achievement of the company in being awarded the SA8000 certification and hoped that the company's commitment to good labour practices and CSR activities would have a positive impact on the community.  This was followed by the General Manager calling upon the employees and their families to share experiences. Amidst some hesitation by the employees to make a start at this large gathering, a young girl from the workers enclosure seized the microphone to say a few words in Telugu (the local language in the region).

  

In her own words: "I am not very aware of the certificate that the company has got, but I have been personally benefited from this initiative for the last 1 year". She said her father, who worked in the construction area, would come home smelling of cement dust and grease. She explained how she was always very hesitant to give him a warm hug at the first instant. However, this took a hygienic turn for the better, as for the last 1 year, he came home clean and smelling of 'Life Buoy soap'. She said she was gleefully giving him a warm hug on his return home.  This was possible because the company created and implemented new health and hygiene practices as part of their adherence to the Health & Safety Clause of the SA8000 Standard. One small piece of the Standard had made a very big difference to a little girl and her father.

  

This story is one of many that illustrates how the benefits of implementation and certification to the SA8000 Standard, extend beyond the four walls of the factory into the lives and families of the workers. The sheer feeling of well-being communicated by the girl, and the fact that she was attributing something that seems small but has huge personal value, was an overwhelming, touching and  unique experience that has been etched in my memory forever.  


 


For more information, please contact SAI's Technical Director, Badri Gulur, at bgulur@sa-intl.org