ILO Online: What were the objectives of these campaigns?
The campaigns aimed, first of all, to introduce a new tool to labour inspectorates, combining advocacy and enforcement as one of the most powerful ways to promote good working conditions.
Themes and sectors were selected by assessing the needs of labour inspectorates and upon the request of trade unions, employers and government institutions. Agriculture and construction are two of the most hazardous sectors in the world including in Central and Eastern Europe. We wanted to raise awareness on the negative effects of undeclared work as well as about the everyday serious hazards of agricultural activities and construction sites. The campaigns focused on the use of pesticides and tractors in the agricultural sector and on the risks of falling from height, and of excavations and trenching in the construction sector. Promotion of gender equality in the world of work was another selected priority.
These campaigns wouldn’t have been successful without including enforcement, so both Moldova and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia organized inspection visits to complement advocacy.
ILO Online: Why did you choose Moldova, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Ukraine to participate in these campaigns?
Campaigns are the most effective tools of labour inspectorates to carry out their duties. During the needs assessments of these countries, we realized that communication and enforcement campaigns were not part of labour inspectorates’ everyday work. For instance, this was the first information campaign in Moldova. Social partners also complained that labour inspectorates did not use advocacy and enforcement in a balanced way. Inspectors did not have the capacities or resources to address occupational risks in the selected sectors, either because of lack of training or information tools to reach large groups of workers and employers, especially in remote areas .
In Ukraine, gender based discrimination and gender inequality in the world of work continue to exist due to persistent gender stereotypes and difficulties to provide women with equal access to jobs, career opportunities and remuneration. The UN Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against Women reviewed Ukraine during its January 2010 session and concluded that gender inequality and women's rights violations in Ukraine are still issues to be addressed.
ILO Online: Do you have any data on workplace accidents and the extent of undeclared work in the targeted sectors of these countries?
A common challenge in the sub region is the lack of reliable data on working conditions and especially on undeclared work. Labour inspectorates have rudimentary registration systems which don’t allow for the collection of statistical indicators.
The same applies to work accidents and occupational diseases which are rarely reported in these countries. We know that every year at least 60,000 fatal accidents occur in the construction sector around the world (one in every six on-the-job deaths). Nevertheless only 22 accidents were reported in Moldova in 2011 for a workforce representing 5. 9 per cent of the active population. The informal economy is also widespread in the construction sector (an average of 20 to 30%) which also contributes to the under-reporting of occupational accidents. Agriculture, which employs 27.5 per cent of the total workforce of Moldova (without counting casual, seasonal and family workers) has the highest accident rates of all sectors, accounting for 6.85 per cent of the total accident rate.
ILO Online: Who was the main target group of these campaigns?
The OECD identified the main causes of non-compliance with regulatory systems as poor understanding of the law, a lack of deterrence and incapacity of the State to persuade business that compliance is wise and good for companies.
It is not immediately clear for everybody that poor working conditions or informality produce burdens not only to the economy but also to the individuals directly involved. Undeclared workers and employers who fail to declare their workers should be educated to clearly understand how informal work affects the future and the sustainability of their companies and social security systems.
So the target audiences were mainly employers and workers, particularly small and medium sized companies. In the case of agriculture, the campaign also focused on family undertakings and self-employed people. In addition, the campaigns aimed at increasing an awareness level on a wider scale with long term effects. Civil society was also targeted through various information channels to advance civic education. Of course, labour inspectorates were also direct beneficiaries, and received guidelines on how to prepare similar initiatives in the future.
ILO Online: What was the main message of your awareness raising activities?
All campaigns addressed both employers and workers with positive messages, avoiding technical jargon and making use of marketing tools, such as slogans and simple visual resources (posters) and information materials (leaflets and booklets). The use of images showing bad and good practices was favored. The main messages consisted in telling employers and workers what conditions they should have in workplaces to prevent accidents or health problems and how and why should all employees be declared.
ILO Online: What kinds of information products have been created to achieve your objectives?
Both printed and electronic products have been developed such as posters, leaflets and booklets. Labour inspectors have also been provided with simple management tools and checklists to support their inspection visits. Three different posters and leaflets have been developed for agriculture (undeclared work, pesticides and agricultural machinery), four for construction (roof works, scafolding, excavation and use of personal protective equipment) and four for gender (gender discrimination, sexual harassement, maternity protection and gender equality plans).
ILO Online: Was the national media involved?
The involvement of mass media is fundamental for successful information campaigns. All the campaigns were launched in high level workshops, with the participation of ministers as well as employers’ and worker’s organizations and received good media coverage. Journalists were systematically informed about the results achieved and some labour inspectors also participated in radio programmes to raise awareness of occupational risks in Moldova.
ILO Online: Who were your main partners in this work?
Our achievements are the result of a very effective collaboration of labour inspectors, employers and trade unions from the very beginning, including the identification of priorities, specific targets through the discussion of slogans and visual materials such as posters and leaflets. Tripartite working groups were set up to define guidelines and to develop communication tools. Employers’ and workers’ organizations also attended training programmes designed for labour inspectors.
ILO Online: How can you measure the results of these ILO campaigns?
In terms of outputs, around 17,000 different awareness raising materials were distributed through diverse channels. Four training programmes were conducted and six workshops were organized for labour inspectors with the participation of the social partners. A study visit was arranged to Portugal for Moldovan representatives to exchange good practices on prevention and the control of occupational risks in agriculture. A cooperation agreement was also signed between the two countries.
Working conditions have been improved in these countries as a direct result of the campaigns.In Moldova, more than 14 000 workers have experienced positive changes in their workplaces after the inspection visits and 183 undeclared workers were registered in two months. The technical conditions of over 2,000 tractors and about 3,500 other agricultural machines were supervised by the newly trained inspectors and over 3,000 infringements of the law were recorded. Moldovan authorities estimate a reduction of 35 to 40 per cent of work accidents in the sector as a direct result. Another indicator of success was the absence of work accident reports during the implementation period. In the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia it is still too early to measure results because their campaign will end in June 2012. In Ukraine, some of the major companies have developed good practices and specific management tools to promote gender equality.
As a major achievement, I would highlight that this strategic approach to inspection has entered into the daily work plans of labour inspectorates and collaboration with social partners has been strengthened at both strategic and operational levels.