ILO workshop among OECD National Contact Points for Responsible Business Conduct to enhance policy coherence on international labour standards

Organized from 20 June to 1 July 2022, the workshop highlighted the coherence and linkages that exist between the ILO MNE Declaration and the OECD MNE Guidelines, in particular concerning issues related to decent work and human rights, including in the context of due diligence.

News | 13 July 2022
To highlight the relationship between the ILO Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy (MNE Declaration) and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, the ILO MULTI Unit together with the Sustainable Enterprises and Economies Programme of the ITC-ILO organized the 3rd edition of the workshop on “Labour issues in Responsible Business Conduct, the guidance provided by international labour standards and the ILO”.

Over the years, a growing number of 'specific instances' have been brought forward to National Contact Points for Responsible Business Conduct (NCPs for RBC) regarding the OECD Guidelines Chapters on “Employment and Industrial Relations” and “Human Rights”, which are closely linked to the mandate and standards of the ILO, including the MNE Declaration.

This annual workshop provides a dialogue platform for and amongst NCPs for RBC and ILO experts to discuss the labour dimension of Responsible Business Conduct. Given the complexity of labour related specific instances, the course provides OECD NCPs with an in depth understanding of international labour standards (ILS) in relation to company operations, including as expressed in the MNE Declaration and the RBC agenda and discusses how to deal with sometimes seemingly conflicting or competing labour standards.

In addition, the workshop aims to facilitate further collaboration and synergies between the work of NCPs for RBC at country level, the OECD and the ILO, especially the promotional aspect of the NCPs mandate on RBC and how to support enterprises in that regard, including by providing information on available ILO resources, such as NORMLEX and the ILO Helpdesk for Business, as well as tools and insights on ILO country-level support.

This year’s edition consisted of a one-week online webinar-based training combined with a two-day face-to-face workshop at the OECD in Paris. In total, around 50 members of national NCPs for RBC and OECD staff participated in the two-week training event.

The opening session included interventions by Madelaine Tuininga (EU DG Trade), Christine Kaufmann (Chair of the OECD Working Party on Responsible Business Conduct) and Githa Roelans (Head of the Multinational Enterprises unit, ILO), highlighting the need for coherence and cooperation in the very dynamic responsible business conduct agenda, linked to trade, investment and supply chains.

In addition to a general introduction to ILS, the Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and the MNE Declaration, the course dedicated particular attention to labour topics identified by NCPs for RBC as being relevant in today’s context, such as the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989 ; non-standard forms of employment and the gig economy; and the addition of the principle of a safe and healthy working environment to the ILO Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.

The workshop concluded with a discussion on ongoing practices and examples of cooperation between the ILO and NCPs for RBC, while also providing space to identify new opportunities for synergies and collaboration. Amongst others, NCPs identified the cross-dissemination of instruments and tools (OECD MNE Guidelines, ILO MNE Declaration, ILO Helpdesk for Business, OECD due diligence guidance and other related tools) through websites and events as excellent ways for coherent messaging towards partners and stakeholders, including enterprises. Others proposed a more institutional collaboration between the NCPs for RBC and the ILO MNE Declaration operational tools (especially the tripartite appointed national focal points), in the form of eg, RBC “committees” or RBC “hubs” at the national level, as well as inter-ministerial and multi-stakeholders coordinated approaches.

This activity was conducted as part of the Trade for Decent Work project.