UNI General Secretary at G7 outreach event with German Chancellor
The DGB and the German G7 Presidency held an outreach meeting with trade unions entitled Decent Work Worldwide – a Business Model for the Future. The event in Berlin examined how to implement decent work across global supply chains. Amongst the panellists were Sharan Burrow (ITUC), Reiner Hoffman (DGB), John Evans (TUAC) and Roel Nieuwenkamp (OECD).
In his remarks to the G7 outreach event, UNI Global Union General Secretary Philip Jennings made a number of key points:
- He welcomed the priority given to decent work in supply chains by the Chancellor Angela Merkel
- The G7 should respond with a clear call to action which will end the race to the bottom in supply chains
- There were three key “game changers” – the Bangladesh Accord, the adoption of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the requirement for governments to produce detailed action plans on the required OECD Guidelines on Multinationals and Responsible Business Conduct.
- In the case of Germany, UNI had made use of the OECD National Contact Point to build dialogue with DHL alongside the ITF but there remained significant human rights issues to resolve.
- He criticised the action of the German telecoms giant Deutsche Telekom whose T-Mobile subsidiary only days prior to the Berlin event had been found guilty of egregious abuses of worker rights in the U.S. The NLRB had found T-Mobile guilty of 11 breaches of law in a nationwide ruling. Jennings said this required that the German government take up its responsibility to change T-Mobile behaviour.
- Complained that the Bangladesh Rana Plaza compensation fund was facing a $9 million shortfall which casts shame on all companies which have deep pockets yet refuse to contribute to the fund. UNI Global Union, IndustriALL and the Clean Clothes Campaign have a launched a campaign.
- Global Framework Agreements required the support of the G7 in aim to ensure decent work and respect for human rights in the supply chain.
- Multinationals should really step up. The global standards are known and policy makers are demanding adequate due diligence measures. Investors, consumers and workers are demanding responsible business conduct.
In the Q and A session with Chancellor Merkel she expressed her anger at the failures of companies to contribute to the Rana Plaza fund, said G7 companies should act as trail blazers in ensuring respect for rights, recognised the role of global framework agreements and said companies should face consequences for breaches of global labour standards. She underlined that no worker anywhere should be victimised for being a member of a union. T-Mobile and DHL should take note.