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30 May 2016

Katie Youtz, Communications Intern, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

Day 2 at the ILO's International Labour Conference 2016

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Today marks day two of the ILO’s 2016 International Labour Conference, and the conversation is buzzing around the issue of ensuring decent work standards in global supply chains. Many organizations are calling for a binding instrument regulating supply chains and making human rights due diligence a mandatory part of doing business to which companies could be held accountable.

Why is ILC 2016 so important? Because for the first time since much of the world economy was re-organised into global supply chains, the ILO will feature a discussion about how that economy should or shouldn’t be regulated in the interests of decent work and social justice. What is discussed and decided at this year’s ILC will thus set the stage for the next year (or two) of struggle within the international labour movement and between the labour movement and representatives of the status quo.

Open Democracy's explainer on the International Labour Conference

Much highlighted in today’s discussions were safeguards for workers in the garment sector. The ILO/IFC’s “Better Work” team, interviewed this afternoon by the ILO’s Sophy Fisher, discussed the positive ripple effects throughout the supply chain of ensuring decent work for employees working in the apparel sector. They took real-time questions from viewers around the world and advised listeners on how to make sure the products we buy on the high street are ethically made and sourced.

African government representatives made calls for greater access to trade unions and collective bargaining mechanisms for workers throughout global value chains.

Employers, on the other hand, cite governance gaps as some of the biggest challenges in enforcing decent work standards throughout their supply chains.

Also on the agenda today, the Committee on the Application of Standards discussed the General Survey on Migrant Workers’ Rights.

These discussions will continue to play out over the next two weeks, but the underlying message of this year's conference is summed up in ILO Director General, Guy Ryder's, call to the global community.

For more on the 2016 International Labour Conference as it develops, watch our dedicated conference page: http://bit.ly/1XaYo6c