25 November 2020
In support for trade unions’ call for a ‘Roadmap for fair and sustainable recovery that people can trust’, the TUAC proposed a progressive policy tool for National Contact Points to use when resolving specific instance complaints. The policy is seen as an important way for NCPs to address deteriorating trust in trade union relations.
Introduced at the November meeting of the OECD Working Party for Responsible Business Conduct, the approach would empower NCPs to request proof from the parties that recommendations to promote the OECD Guidelines were implemented and being effective.
The policy would have practical relevance in resolving cases involving workplace safety issues like COVID-19 prevention, giving governments comfort and certainty that credible processes are in place to mitigate workplace risks of COVID-19 contagion.
Mitigating risks of COVID-19 requires credible due diligence. Trade unions are irreplaceable partners in the fight against COVID-19. NCPs for the OECD should have the ability to demand proof that multinational enterprises have credible systems in place to resolve issues raised in complaints.
An example of language an NCP might use in recommendations to the parties would require both parties to engage in dialogue towards reaching labour and management consensus for a credible mitigation strategy. Without consent by both parties, the issues would be presumed unresolved without credible system to mitigate future risks:
The NCP recommends MNE should engage in dialogue towards an agreement with trade union parties that would serve to verify the Parties have implemented a credible process of due diligence that will prevent COVID-19 and other health risks in the workplace. If the parties are unable to produce a form of consent signed by both Parties, the NCP will have no means of confirming or denying its recommendations are followed through and will consider the COVID-19 risks to remain unresolved between the parties.
What form of agreement is used to satisfy the NCP recommendation would be left to the parties to determine.
As the world continues to seek ways to recover, the TUAC sees such worker-driven policies as essential in the fight to prevent COVID-19 or any future threat to workplace health that may come. Credible mitigation strategies having trade union endorsements will be essential for governments to know multinational businesses are doing everything they can to keep workers and the general public safe.