Decent work in global supply chains: MoU signed between China and the ILO

The global supply chain is a universal way of organizing investment, production and trade in the world economy. The ILO-China cooperation on promoting decent work in global supply chains will focus on ensuring compliance and protecting the legitimate rights and interests of workers.

News | 25 May 2018
BEIJING (ILO News) -- On 25 May, 2018, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security (MOHRSS) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) signed a Memorandum of Understanding sealing their cooperation on the promotion of decent work in global supply chains.

MoU signing ceremony
Under this MoU, both parties agree to cooperate on the implementation of an EU funded Project on Responsible Supply Chains, and of an INDITEX funded Project on Promoting Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work in Cotton Supply Chains.

During the signing ceremony, Mr Hao Bin, Director-General of International Cooperation Department of the MOHRSS, Ms Claire Courteille-Mulder, Director for ILO Country Office for China and Mongolia, Mr Ulrich Weigl, Minister Counsellor, Head of the Trade Section of the EU Delegation, and Ms Echo Hu, Representative of INDITEX, all welcomed this new cooperation . Through their participation at the event, the Chinese social partners, the ACFTU and the CEC, expressed their support to these joint commitments.

Ms Claire Courteille-Mulder pointed out that working conditions in global supply chains have attracted a lot of attention at the global level in recent years. Social partners, multinational enterprises, workers and increasingly consumers’ organisations around the world have become more vigilant about the ways goods and services are produced. The G20, the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, and regional fora all have called for action.

Tripartite declaration of principles concerning multinational enterprises and social policy (MNE Declaration) will serve as the key document for this cooperation."

Claire Courteille-Mulder, Director, ILO Country Office for China and Mongolia
She highlighted that the ILO Tripartite Declaration on Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy (MNE Declaration) will serve as the key document for this cooperation. The MNE Declaration is the only tripartite instrument at the global level providing clear guidance to enterprises on how they can contribute through their operations worldwide to the realisation of decent work. The Declaration also emphasizes the role of government in stimulating good corporate behaviour as well as the crucial role of social dialogue.

Mr Hao Bin stated that global supply chains are a universal way of organizing investment, production, and trade in a globalised economy. As global supply chains provide a large number of employment opportunities for developing and emerging economies, the promotion of decent work is an important impetus for sustainable development at the national level. At present, China is the first host country of foreign direct investment (FDI), and a large number of Chinese companies are operating in the high, medium, and low ends of global supply chains. In 2017, China’s overseas investment reached $121.1 billion US dollars, with over 520,000 Chinese workers posted abroad in various types of jobs. In that year, FDI in China reached $131 billion US dollars, and 35,652 new enterprises were established. Mr Hao Bin stressed that the joint cooperation will focus on ensuring compliance with and protection of legitimate rights and interests of workers through information collection, research, dialogue and application of international labour standards in the supply chains in the Chinese context.

Both the European Union and INDITEX will be key partners in the implementation of the ILO-MOHRSS cooperation to promote the labour dimension of responsible business conduct. The European Union has been promoting Corporate Social Responsibility for many years both within and outside the EU. The current regional project on responsible business conduct funded by EU will be an important contribution to the realisation of this MoU. Likewise, the INDITEX project on promoting fundamental principles and rights at work in the cotton supply chain will also improve the understanding and knowledge of this sector and strengthen social dialogue.

Ms Claire Courteille-Mulder, on behalf of the ILO, expressed her deep appreciation of the MOHRSS, ACFTU, CEC, EU and INDITEX’s support and partnership in this very important area of work.