Code of conduct being formalized for gender and social inclusion in the brick sector

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A national consultation workshop on a social Code of Conduct (CoC) for Nepal’s brick sector was held in Kathmandu on 28–29 June 2019. Participants from across the country including the president – Mahendra Bahadur Chitrakar – and programme steering committee members of the Federation of Nepal Brick Industries (FNBI) gathered to discuss and develop a way forward on the draft CoC. Representatives from 24 district brick associations, which included 19 district presidents and five province-level focal coordinators, also attended the workshop.

The national consultation workshop on a social Code of Conduct for Nepal’s brick sector aimed to alleviate the working and living conditions of brick workers across the country. (Photo: Jitendra Bajracharya/ICIMOD)

The FNBI and other stakeholders in the Nepalese brick sector have been working on gradually making the sector environmentally and socially responsible. Developing a formal document governing the sector is a significant step towards integrating gender and social issues to improve the working and living conditions of brick workers, both women and men. The draft of the Social CoC – developed by the FNBI with technical support from ICIMOD and MinErgy Pvt Ltd – has been prepared in line with prevailing Government of Nepal documents such as Nepal Labour Policies (2075) and the Occupational Safety and Health-related Brick Kiln Directives (2075).

The two-day workshop was facilitated by Krishna P Awale and Shankhar B Chand from senior members of the FNBI. The FNBI’s facilitating role demonstrates its ownership in advancing this CoC to address the working and living conditions of brick workers. The workshop aimed to create a platform for discussion and work towards a cleaner brick sector by:

  • Providing the sector with a mechanism and shared responsibility to improve the conditions of workers 

  • Creating a foundation and platform to engage at the policy level and further develop a way forward

There was positive and in-depth feedback from the participants on the inclusiveness and practicality of each of the 20 domains under these four principles in the CoC: (1) end child labour (2); transparent employment conditions; (3) basic workplace facilities; and (4) safe workplace for women workers. Each domain has a checklist which will measure each principle. This will provide evidence on how many domains under each principle are implemented on the ground effectively and documented properly.

 The workshop concluded with the following path being charted for the Social CoC:

  • A committee will be formed with representatives from the FNBI Social Committee and province-level representatives to finalize the draft CoC.

  • The final draft of the CoC will be further shared and discussed with brick entrepreneur members of the brick associations from all 24 districts. The discussion will provide further feedback, create awareness, and initiate sensitization programmes along the lines of the CoC’s stipulations. 

  • The final draft of the CoC will be prepared in consultation with a lawyer to verify its legality. 

  • The final CoC will be prepared in simple, understandable language (and not in legal terms) for the benefit of all brick entrepreneurs and workers. 

  • A province-level Social CoC for the brick sector will also possibly be drafted on the basis of this CoC.