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Jobs, Wages, Refugees and Workers’ Rights

Jobs, Wages, Refugees and Workers’ Rights in Global Supply Chains top G20 Labour Ministers agenda: G20 leaders must drive action

Brussels, 19 May 2017 (ITUC OnLine): The L20 (Labour 20) has welcomed commitments from the G20 Labour Ministers, meeting in Bad Neuenahr this week, to clean up global supply chains, provide decent work, ensure living wages and integrate migrants, women, refugees and young people into the workplace.

ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow said “labour markets need to work for working people, and the Ministerial Declaration is a basis for a global economy that works for everyone. Global supply chains are based on a model of low wages, insecure and unsafe work with increasing informal work and modern slavery. We would like to see every country mandate the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights for workers in global supply chains, with due diligence and grievance procedures that enable remedy against exploitation for the millions of workers on whom multinationals rely on for their products and services.”

“Legislation in France to hold companies accountable for treatment of workers in their supply chains and the Dutch Compact in the Netherlands demonstrate leading actions by national governments. The non-judicial complaints mechanism of the OECD Guidelines must be strengthened with consequences for companies that refuse mediation, and in every country there must be a minimum living wage as the floor that allows families to live with dignity,” she added.

Globalisation is failing people with 80 percent of people in the ITUC Global Poll saying that the economic system favours the wealthy rather than being fair to most people, and 85 percent saying it’s time to rewrite the rules of the global economy.

The commitment from G20 Labour Ministers, who account for 80 percent of worldwide trade, that violations of human and labour rights are not part of competition between businesses in global trade underscores the need to bring a stop to the system of labour arbitrage in supply chains.

“Globalisation is in trouble because the world’s workforce is in trouble. G20 leaders must endorse commitments to taking exploitation out of competition and mandate due diligence for major corporations. That’s how we will see that globalisation works for all working people,” said Ms Burrow.

John Evans, General Secretary of the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD, welcomed the Ministers recognition that the rights of workers including collective bargaining need to be protected in new employment relationships in the digital economy.

“We need a Future of Work where the value of work is not diminished. We are facing persistent issues in the real economy that need to be resolved including high job gaps since the 2008 crisis, rising levels of income inequality and 60 percent of the global workforce in non-standard work. The G20 needs to take steps now to ensure that the digitally driven economy of the future builds on quality employment, universal social protection and effective training programmes for all age and social groups. Some of today’s online platform businesses ignore international labour standards and employment relationships. Here, governments need to step in with regulatory measures to put the brakes on practices that rely on lowering labour costs and increase the number of precarious work,” he added.

G20 Labour Ministers made commitments to:

Clean up global supply chains:
- We reaffirm our commitment to international guidelines and frameworks such as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UN Guiding Principles). (Paragraph 22)
- We will encourage initiatives to improve occupational safety and health across global supply chains. (Paragraph 25)
- We emphasise that wages should take into account the needs of workers and their families, the cost of living and economic factors. In this respect, minimum wage legislation and collective bargaining in particular can set income floors to reduce income inequality, eliminate poverty wages and achieve sustainable wage growth. (Paragraph 27)
- We underline the importance of providing access to remedy. (Paragraph 28)

Eradicate modern slavery and forced labour:

- We also commit to take immediate and effective measures, as called for by SDG 8.7, both in our own countries and globally, towards eradicating modern slavery, forced labour and human trafficking, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms. (Paragraph 23)

Fundamental rights at work:

- The inclusion of fundamental principles and rights at work and decent working conditions in trade agreements. (Paragraph 24 b)

Decent Wages:

- We emphasise that wages should take into account the needs of workers and their families, the cost of living and economic factors. In this respect, minimum wage legislation and collective bargaining in particular can set income floors to reduce income inequality, eliminate poverty wages and achieve sustainable wage growth. (Paragraph 26)

Future of Work:
- Priorities on the future of work (ii) promoting adequate social protection and social security coverage for all workers (iii) respect for fundamental principles and rights at work is a foundation for social dialogue and collective bargaining in a changing world of work. (Annex)

G20 leaders meeting at the Hamburg summit in July must endorse the commitments of labour minsters and implement national action plans on due diligence and grievance procedures for remedy against violations of workers’ rights in global supply chains in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

The ITUC represents 181 million workers in 163 countries and territories and has 340 national affiliates.

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