Saxon politicians also like to talk about sustainable development and fair purchasing. But if we take a closer look at how the Saxon government buys, it becomes embarrassing. The alliance “Saxony buys honestly” did so and on Wednesday 6 July launched the “So geht Fairgabe” campaign. In doing so, it calls on the Free State to make it compulsory to take human rights and environmental protection into account when purchasing in the public sector.
Research by the Saxony Buys Fair alliance shows that Saxony also buys from companies that trample on human and labor rights. For example, in 2019 and 2020, the Saxon Ministry of the Interior purchased uniforms for the police from SIOEN.
According to Allianz, through their subsidiary SIOROM in Romania, seamstresses work for wages well below the national poverty line in a factory that gets so hot in the summer that workers faint. Seamstresses earned EUR 282 net a month, while the national poverty line is EUR 448, criticizes Allianz.
Finally, Saxony needs fair procurement law
“Instead of using its own market power to support suppliers of honestly produced textiles, the Free State rewards unscrupulous exploitation with its purchasing behavior,” emphasizes Stefanie Licht, the alliance’s coordinator.
The demands of the “Saxony buys honestly” alliance can also be read concisely on the Allianz website.
Dr. Bettina Musiolek of the Clean Clothes Campaign explains: “Unfortunately, the SIOROM example is not an isolated case. Poverty-related wages, degrading treatment and poor job protection are common, both in Romanian and in the global textile industry in general ”.
That is why the “Saxony buys fair” alliance calls for the inclusion of binding environmental and social criteria in the Saxon public procurement law.
“Such a change of law would be a voluntary commitment by the Free State to responsible action and fair trade – and would have an exemplary effect for many people in Saxony,” emphasizes Bishop Tobias Bilz (Ev.-Lutheran Church of Sachsen) and Bishop Heinrich Timmerevers (Diocese of Dresden-Meissen) .
Prof. Dr. Dr Felix Ekardt, president of BUND Sachsen, adds: “When a country purchases, it should consider not only the commercial purchase price, but also production, operating and disposal costs, as well as long-term social costs, such as climate change or loss of biodiversity. A resource-saving contract is therefore already actually required by the concept of profitability in public procurement law. “
Therefore, in addition to adhering to core labor standards of the International Labor Organization (ILO) and other social standards, Allianz also calls for life-cycle costs and the application of representative collective agreements to be taken into account.
What the Free State and municipalities can achieve
“The Free State and municipalities buy for over a billion euros each year. Thanks to an effective public procurement law, environmentally friendly products can be purchased under fair conditions. This instrument must finally be used in Saxony to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals around the world, but also especially locally, ”explains Markus Schlimbach, president of the DGB Saxony district.
This awareness has long since reached the global and national level, as evidenced by the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business, Human Rights and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the National Action Plan for Business and Human Rights, and the Supply Chain Act.
While the Saxon government emphasizes the need for sustainable purchasing in both its Sustainable Development Strategy and its 2021 energy and climate program, so far nothing has happened.
However, a comparison between the various federal states shows that Saxony is sadly at the bottom when it comes to anchoring sustainability aspects in public procurement law. Along with the amendment to the Public Procurement Law, it is time to change this – Allianz emphasizes “Saxony buys honestly”. The Land of Saxony must finally take responsibility for its purchase.
Approval by the Saxon Greens
And this is how Gerhard Liebscher, spokesman for economic policy and labor market in the parliamentary group Bündnis 90 / Die Grünen in the Saxon parliament sees it:
“The broad political amalgamation of civil society shows that there is a growing awareness in Saxony of the leverage effect of public funds: people do not want to finance the exploitation or pollution of the environment with tax money. Public funds play a steering role. As a free state, we have a mandate to use public funds in the interest of the common good. This also includes enhancing and supporting sustainable purchasing practices ”.
Liebscher emphasizes that Saxony now has the opportunity to follow the example of other countries and link the award of public contracts to collective wages:
“We Greens of the Alliance see this as an important contribution to strengthening collective bargaining and securing attractive jobs. This is of decisive importance for the economic strength of our country, especially in times of shortage of skilled workers. That is why we, in the coalition, will stand for a sustainable public procurement law that sets social and environmental criteria. “
Addressing the municipalities, Gerhard Liebscher adds: “Even in discussions with municipal representatives, it is still clear: there is goodwill! Now it is about convincing municipalities to take greater account of social and environmental quality criteria in future purchases.
Because the definition of quality criteria also allows contracting authorities to rely more on regional products. We, the Greens of the Alliance, want to ensure that administrative staff have access to sufficient advice and further training opportunities, and to discuss in the future models for centrally linking procurement tasks.