French law is being used to force a road transport and logistics multinational to take the necessary steps to stamp out human rights abuses in its supply chain, in the first case of its kind.

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) and an alliance of unions are bringing the action against XPO Logistics Europe using the French Corporate Duty of Vigilance Law. It has never before been used to hold to account a global transport company.

The law holds businesses to certain obligations in relation to the human rights of their workers, local communities and others affected by their operations around the world. The law is French and is being used against a French company, but its reach is global because the company’s obligations apply equally to the operations of its foreign subsidiaries and to its international business relationships.