Value chains

Meeting with workers in the banana industry on ILO, UN international policy frameworks for due diligence

Two ILO projects on “ Responsible Supply Chains in Asia” programme (RSCA), with support from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the European Union (EU); and the US DOL supported project on “Improving Workers' Rights in the Rural Sectors of the Indo-Pacific with a focus on Women”(Rural Sectors’ Project) collaboratively held a meeting with the workers organisations in the banana industry via Zoom.

The meeting, which was attended by workers’ organisations in the banana industry in region XI, was organized with the aim to build the capacity of workers organisations in the banana industry, to:
  • Provide trade unions and workers’ organisations with the knowledge of International Policy Frameworks in the field of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)/Responsible Business Conduct (RBC) (ILO MNE Declaration, OECD Guideline on MNEs and UN Guiding Principle on Business and Human Rights), as well as legally binding measure taken by States to implement due diligence, to advocate for the implementation of the policies and principles recommended by those instruments
  • Provide the participants with an overview of the labour dimension of existing policy instruments in CSR/RBC
  • Advocate workers and unions to use the instruments to protect labour rights and trade union rights in the updating of the Voluntary Code of Good Practices (VCGP) on Decent Work in the Banana Industry
  • Provide opportunities for the participants to share main challenges and good practices in relation to the implementation of the VCGP on Decent Work in the Banana Industry
  • Identify possible priority recommendations by workers’ organisations on promoting compliance to general labour standards, OSH and gender equality which can be advocated through several social dialogue mechanisms such as collective agreements, industry codes of good practice, regional and national industry tripartite councils
The two projects aim to harness the potential of existing social dialogue mechanisms at the industry and regional levels. Collaboration between these two Projects for this activity is initiated since these two Projects are working in the banana industry in region XI. Furthermore, these two Projects complement each other through the promotion of compliance with minimum labour standards as a requirement for Responsible Business Conduct, and alignment of policy and practice with international labour standards.

The RSCA project highlighted the ILO Tripartite Declaration of Principles Concerning MNEs and Social Policy as a tool which can provide employers and workers guidance on how companies can ensure compliance to fundamental principles and rights at work and strengthen social dialogue down their supply chain. The RSCA project also emphasized the ILO MNE Declaration’s follow up and supporting mechanisms particularly the designation of the National MNE Focal Point on a tripartite basis, to promote the use of the MNE Declaration and its principles, whenever appropriate and necessary.

The Rural Sectors Project on the other hand emphasised on how corporate social responsibility and responsible business conduct should start with ensuring compliance with national laws, including labour standards, and how workers can promote the business case for compliance to both national and international labour standards.

The Project also emphasised two issues which the workers’ organisations in the banana industry may wish to mainstream in their discussion in the Banana Industry Tripartite Council (BITC). First is the importance of strengthening OSH management systems at the workplace and; second, industry levels veering away from the traditional, avoidance approach to a more systemic and integrated approach, and addressing violence and harassment at the workplace.

The workers identified priority issues and recommendations related to general labour standards, OSH, gender equality, monitoring mechanisms on labour laws compliance and specific issues concerning the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to the workers in the banana industry. The issues and recommendations raised during the discussion will be taken on by both projects in their succeeding activities and support for the banana ITC.