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Global supply chains: what does labour want?

Author: Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, ITUC, in Open Democracy , Published on: 31 May 2016

With up to 94% of the workforce on whom our largest MNE's depend effectively ‘hidden’, there are serious global governance gaps concerning GSCs. While goods and services are produced by workers in multiple countries, most laws and international conventions stop at the borders of each individual country. Today, voluntary guidelines such as the OECD’s Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, which incorporates the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and the ILO’s long-outdated MNE Declaration are among the few global ‘regulations’ of GSCs; but neither are effective in ensuring that companies respect workers’ rights across supply chains....A major problem for workers, even in places where there is substantive country legislation, is the lack of an adequate remedy for when their rights are inevitably violated. Local supplying companies are unlikely to face accountability because administrative or judicial processes are too slow, weak or corrupt. At the same time, lead firms are usually immune from any legal accountability, since there is no cause of action or jurisdiction over them in either the host country or the home country.


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