Report on subcontracting out now - Case studies in different sectors
Learn more about subcontracting practices in the food and agriculture, the garment industry, and construction sector.
Since 2019, the ETUC is running a project on securing workers’ rights in subcontracting chains, with the financial support of the EU. During the first phase of the project, researchers gathered data and explored some case studies among trade union networks and workers representatives in different sectors.
The research shows the diverse strategies to use subcontracting as a business model. Companies take full advantage of the existing national and European norms and aimed at externalising risks, by extending and complicating the subcontracting chain. The research team approached selected companies and interviewed various stakeholders including labour authorities and management associations. They found hard facts and sad stories about workers that fight until today to receive their salary.
In the cases of the report subcontracting practices are directly weakening the economic and normative employment conditions of the workforce: less income, less social contributions, longer working hours, worse H&S conditions, etc. Sometimes the employers even achieve to systematically hinder the social cohesion of the workers and consequently hinder collective action.
The research shows how companies in these sectors use subcontracting as a strategy to increase profits in highly competitive markets, without being liable for the consequences of their actions.
The results of the study directly reveal the problems of a lack of regulation in supply chains. Meanwhile the European Commission is supposed to draft a proposal of a EU Human Rights Due Diligence law. The results of the study directly reveal the problems of a lack of regulation in supply chains. Meanwhile the European Commission is supposed to draft a proposal of a EU Human Rights Due Diligence law. In December 2019, the ETUC published key demands on mandatory Human Rights due diligence and responsible business conduct.