While I was, like most Americans, taking some time away from work last week to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday, the FSC Board of Directors held its 64th meeting in Nicaragua and appear to have taken some action on the ILO Self-Declaration issue.  A quick search tells me that I have been writing about this subject for over a year.  You can see my first entry, and good overall introduction to the issue HERE, and the rest of  the long and protracted history HERE.

Today’s “fix” looks pretty straightforward.  An email circulated to Certification Bodies (CBs) and intended  for distribution to Certificate Holders (CHs) refers to a new Annex C (FSC-PRO-20-001_ANNEX C), which will be attached to the existing Procedure document (FSC-PRO-20-001) which has caused all the trouble.  It will apparently offer a second option for companies who don’t like the existing Annex B (found on page 8).

I know some of the folks who have been involved in this process and have sent out a few notes, trying to gauge whether this solution is going to be effective.  I will share their feedback here.  The proof will be whether the hundred or so companies who objected to signing the old Annex B, will find the new Annex C palatable and consistent with advice of their legal staff.  For my part, I certainly hope so.  This thing has dragged on far too long as it is.

It would be nice if that was the whole story, but I’m afraid that it won’t be.  The last paragraph of the email from FSC-IC this morning reads like this:

“The decision of the Board is based on the condition that the FSC Secretariat starts developing audit able indicators for the social requirements in the Chain of Custody Standard that will replace the self-declaration once approved.  FSC’s tentative deadline for completing the development of audit able indicators is December 31, 2014.”

Does this mean that CoC auditors will be conducting assessments of labor law compliance and worker health and safety?  That seems to be the idea, but we’ve got quite a few bridges to cross first.  As always, stay tuned, and please use the comments box below to share what you think.

UPDATE (12/5/13):  I have heard from several colleagues that the compromise language in Annex C seems to be acceptable to most US companies and that the new self-declarations are being signed, and that this crisis has – in fact – been averted.  A good thing, overall, I think.