Delegation of the European Union to the
UN and other international organisations in Geneva

GB328 - EU Statement - INS/5/1: Follow-up to the resolution concerning decent work in global supply chain

Geneva, 04/11/2016 - 00:00, UNIQUE ID: 161108_11
Statements on behalf of the EU

ILO Governing Body, 328th session Geneva, 31 October – 10 November 2016 EU Statement - INS/5/1: Follow-up to the resolution concerning decent work in global supply chain (general discussion)

Thank you, chair.

I speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.

The Candidate Countries Turkey, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Serbia* and Albania align themselves with this Statement.

We support the IMEC statement.

The EU and its Member States look back at a fruitful discussion on promoting Decent Work in Global Supply Chains during the last ILC in which we actively participated. We consider that its outcome contributes to the promotion of inclusive and sustainable approaches agreed in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, notably those on sustainable production, sustainable consumption and decent work, and to an intensified international cooperation on responsible business conduct.

Now, it is time to become more concrete on the way forward. We need to keep the momentum. The report gives a good overview of the outcomes of the ILC discussion, sums up many actions that should be picked up by the ILO to follow-up those outcomes and proposes time-bound deliverables to that end. We welcome this approach.

However, priorities for the short run should be decided:

First of all, the EU and its Member States believe that knowledge generation and dissemination is important in the short run.  While we recognize that the Office has generated a lot of knowledge, we think that particular attention could be paid to sectors most involved in global supply chains and most prone to deficits in working conditions as the Office mentioned. Furthermore, we strongly support the intention to develop an agreed list of key indicators in cooperation with the constituents in order to assess decent work in global supply chains.  We also note that many European enterprises would like to have more and easier access to information on labour related issues.  We clearly see a role here for the ILO.

A strengthened knowledge base is also valuable to inform the review of whether the current ILO standards are fit for purpose to achieve Decent Work in Global Supply Chains (in line with ILC outcome para 25). The EU and its Member States think that we should not wait too long for the meeting dealing with these issues to take place. We would rather build on our current momentum. The suggestion of the Office to start in the beginning of 2018 seems reasonable, in light of the work the Office needs to do before the review can start.

Secondly, as the Office suggests, we believe that an advocacy and communications strategy can support the actions in the programme of action whilst building on a strengthened knowledge base. Raising awareness in societies on decent work, including but not only OSH, child labour and forced labour, can prevent and help repair the negative impact global supply chains may have on labour rights.

Thirdly, we think technical assistance and capacity building are important to support the tripartite constituents to ensure decent work in global supply chains. They should relate to the proposed actions for governments, business and social partners that were agreed upon in the ILC conclusions. In particular we see added value of the ILO in the area of cross border social dialogue, including International Framework Agreements. Furthermore, the Office could strengthen its capacity to offer guidance to enterprises on the application of labour standards within their supply chains and how to implement a labour rights due diligence particularly in the area of wages, working time and OSH.  For a demand-driven support, it is important for the Office to get a better view of the different stakeholders' needs and capacities. In this light, information provided through local country offices the employers’ and workers’ groups and the Helpdesk for Business is needed. But also information from National Contact Points (NCPs) on what kind of expertise they would like to get from the ILO is important.

We have highlighted a few specific actions. We believe that in particular these actions should become more concrete in the short run. On many of the other actions mentioned in the programme, like on partnerships with other international organisations or the ILO MNE Declaration review process, the Office is already doing a lot. These activities should be continued. We also welcome that the Office intends to continue working closely with the European Union and its Member States, and to expand its collaboration with key sub-regional organisations. We see the work initiated on decent work in global supply chains at the 2015 Asia-Europe Labour and Employment Ministers’ Conference (ASEM LEMC) and the 2016 Union for the Mediterranean Labour and Employment Ministerial Meeting as a source of inspiration in this regard.

To conclude, we very much welcome the paper offered by the Office with the programme of action to follow-up the ILC discussion on promoting Decent Work in Global Supply Chains. We look forward to a swift implementation of the plan of action. 

In parallel, as the activities to be undertaken by the ILO in the programme of action are many, priorities for the short run should be decided. To this aim, we would like the Office to present at the next GB in March, a roadmap that would identify the actions for the short run on this strategic area of ILO work.


Thank you chair.


*The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.

Editorial Sections: