Representatives of trade union centres from G7 countries, international trade union organisations, the German government, business investors, NGOs and the OECD have met to get answers on how to ensure effective implementation of labour rights in global supply chains through shared responsibility.
At the meeting with the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, trade union representatives presented those priorities and discussed possible actions that could feed into the G7 agenda, and the Labour and Development Ministers meeting to be held in October.
Germany is pushing for a G7 peer review process to strengthen the implementation of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. It has also prioritised the creation of a Prevention Fund to reduce the number of workplace accidents through investments in proper health and safety conditions and social protection.
The Trade Union meeting was the first of six G7 outreach meetings with non-governmental actors to be held in the run-up to the Summit in June. As Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, underlined, it was a conscious decision of the participating trade unions to focus on the deficiencies of the current business model in GSCs that does not benefit workers and features slavery, wages below living standards and far too many accidents – of which the Rana Plaza factory collapse is the most prominent example.
John Evans called for “consequences” for companies that do not observe the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. In response, Merkel stated her support for the instrument agreeing that there have to be consequences for companies that fail to observe the Guidelines, She made a commitment to raising this issue in the business outreach process.
It would be the first time that the G7 addresses global working conditions. Merkel said that she would support a longer-term focus during the Japanese and Italian presidencies.
With regard to Rana Plaza and the missing $8.5 million from the Compensation Fund, Merkel said that it was “embarrassing” for brands not to have paid up and stated her support for the full compensation of the victims.