SOLIDAR at 105th ILO Conference – Global Value Chains: A binding Treaty is needed!

This week, between 30 May and 3 June, SOLIDAR Network has been participating in the 105th ILO International Labour Conference (ILC). During the event, SOLIDAR members FOS (Belgium), Solidar Suisse (Switzerland), OGBL-Solidarité syndicale (Luxembourg) and a representative of the Trade Union Maquilas Network of Honduras (Red sindical de las maquilas de Honduras) have been following the work of the Committee on Decent Work in Global Value Chains (GVCs).

GVCs refers to the “cross-border organisation of the activities required to produce goods or services and bring them to consumers through inputs and various phases of development, production and delivery”. The ILO report on this topic highlights that while GVCs may have contributed - especially in developing countries - to the creation of employment and opportunities for economic and social development, “the dynamics of production and employment relations within the global economy, including in some global supply chains, can have negative implications for working conditions”. Indeed, low wages, insecure and precarious work, unsafe work, lack of social protection, child labour and forced labour, together with tax avoidance practices are frequent in GVCs. Dramatic events, such as the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in 2013, are the results of a business strategy based on reducing costs by lowering working conditions.

As highlighted by the SOLIDAR delegate Evangelina Argueta (RSMH) in her speech at the opening of the GVCs Committee, without an international standard to regulate the conduct of Multinational Enterprises (MNEs), those states that are committed to ensuring the respect and the protection of International Labour Standards (ILS) will be penalised by MNEs tempted to reduce their costs and move their production to less committed states.

For this reason, SOLIDAR is, together with its members and partners, in Geneva to reiterate the need for a Convention on Decent Work for Domestic Workers to establish a global level playing field and prevent MNEs competing on the basis of lowering wages and working conditions.

Such international standard should, among others,

  • Ensure adequate redress mechanisms for workers when their rights are violated;
  • Establish the legal accountability of leading firms for the actions of their subcontractors all along the production and distribution chain;
  • Include mandatory due diligence and transparency obligations in order to make visible who is in the supply chain and hence allow monitoring and accountability.

Finally, the SOLIDAR Network welcomes the Council of the European Union’s support (see Council conclusions on 12 May 2016) for the “systematic inclusion in all EU Trade Agreement of trade and sustainable development (TSD) provisions” that contain a reciprocal commitment to respect ILS.

Related content