BackgroundThe term “global supply chains” refers to the cross-border organization 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 GSCs include foreign direct investment (FDI) by multinational enterprises (MNEs) in wholly owned subsidiaries or in joint ventures in which the MNE has direct responsibility for the employment relationship.
Global supply chains have contributed to economic growth, job creation, poverty reduction and entrepreneurship and can contribute to a transition from the informal to the formal economy. They can create opportunities for suppliers to move to higher value products and enabled workers to access to high skilled employment with better working conditions and higher pay.
Global supply chains also lead to deficits in decent work. Many studies have found that the world economy based on global supply chains has negative implications for employment, working conditions and labour rights, including freedom of association and collective bargaining.
According to the ILO, the number of people employed in global supply chain (GSC)-related jobs increased over the past decade from 296 million in 1995 to 453 million in 2013 in 40 advanced and emerging economies. Trade unions complain that labour law and regulations are not properly enforced to effectively monitor compliance with labour standards. Due to the expansion of global supply chains across borders, decent work deficits and governance gaps continue to exist and these challenges must be addressed.
The 105th Session (2016) of the International Labour Conference placed “decent work in global supply chains” as an item for its general discussion. The general discussion understood the delegates of the ILC on challenges and opportunities for sustainable development, inclusive economic growth and decent work in global supply chains. The plenary session of the 2016 ILC adopted 25 points of Resolution and Conclusions on decent work in global supply chains which guide ILO in planning future work.
The forthcoming Regional Seminar will focus discussions on successes, obstacles and potentialities of GFAs to improve governance in GSCs.
The APRM held in Bali, Indonesia on 5-9 Dec. 2016 adopted the Bali Declaration, which identified policy priorities in the region, including GSCs (no.9) and the ILO MNE Declaration (no. 10), and the tripartite constituents, especially workers’ organisations, requested ILO to conduct more activities on MNEs. An expert group meeting on GSCs will be held in Geneva in late 2017 to discuss the direction of ILO standard-setting concerning GSCs.
The regional seminar is a follow up to the Resolution and Conclusions of the 105th Session of the ILC on DW in GSCs as well as to the Bali Declaration of the APRM. It will also serve the “ILO GB Decision on the fifth item on the agenda: Follow-up to the resolution concerning decent work in global supply chains ILO programme of action 2017–21”, especially (a-v) and (b) to identify possible action to promote decent work and protection of fundamental principles and rights at work for workers in export processing zones (EPZs).
- To promote decent work and protection of fundamental principles and rights at work for workers in export processing zones (EPZs) through organising and CBAs;
- To share good practices of global framework agreements (GFAs) to promote GFAs as one of improved governance systems in GSCs, to improve the contents of GFAs with the monitoring and evaluation of their implementation, and to increase the number of GFAs in the region;
- To share good practices of trade unions concerning social dialogue, FOA and CB in EPZs;
- To provide inputs to an experts meeting to be held in Geneva in November 2017; and
- To develop union strategies to make use of various ILO policies adopted in recent years, which include “the 105th Session (2016) of the International Labour Conference placed “decent work in global supply chains”; APRM’s Bali Declaration and its thematic tripartite debate on MNEs; and the “ILO GB Decision on Follow-up to the resolution concerning decent work in global supply chains and ILO programme of action 2017–21.