Economic and Social Councils must emphasize the importance of workplace compliance
Youcef Ghellab, Head of the Social Dialogue and Tripartism Unit says that relying on labour law enforcement is not enough to deliver safe and productive work environments. National tripartite organizations have a key role to play in delivering on workplace compliance, including in global supply chains.
A crucial first step is to improve understanding of the importance of compliance for Economic and Social Councils and Similar Institutions (ESC-SIs). In the lead up to a multinational conference in The Hague, the ILO carried out a survey on ESC-SI attitudes to, and understanding of, compliance.
Youcef Ghellab, Head of the Social Dialogue and Tripartism Unit spoke with ILO NEWS about the survey, its aims and implications:
Ghellab: We did produce quite a long questionnaire to survey these institutions. We wanted to know: firstly, what they know about compliance; secondly, how it works at the national level, country level; and thirdly, whether they deal with it in their work agenda, whether it is an issue on which they organize consultations between the three institutions - government, workers and employers. There was also a fourth issue – whether they think this should be on their agenda in the future.
ILO NEWS: So, you started with the perception or thesis that compliance was not being properly recognized as an issue in the field, in countries and work places, did the survey bear out that perception?
Ghellab: Yes indeed. Absolutely. Some ESCs for example said this was an issue that would be dealt with by labour inspections. Just enforcing the law, and we say no, compliance is much more than just enforcing the law. It’s about fundamental principles at work, it’s about creating safe and healthy workplaces, it’s about peace within the workplace, it’s about collective bargaining, good industrial relations, good labour and management cooperation. All this, at the end of the day, is good for the workers, good for businesses, and good for society.
It is a development issue and should be dealt with at the national level, like all other development issues.
ILO NEWS: Did you find, in the survey, examples where awareness was adequate, or good? Examples where it has gone to work for the benefit of workplaces?
Ghellab: There were good examples. Korea, for instance, also Senegal plus a few other countries where the surveyed institution told us “yes, we do take this issue seriously, and we come up with agreements and these agreements are now being implemented at the workplace level”. So there are good examples. But there are also ESCs that said “we have not dealt (with compliance) because it is not part of our mandate, but we would like it to be.”
ILO NEWS: What is the objective of this joint international conference in The Hague, what do you hope to achieve?
Ghellab: We hope to achieve, first, that for those institutions not dealing with this issue, they will be aware of its importance. There is something there that they have ignored. Now we understand it’s very important and we have to take it up in our agenda. Secondly, they will realize there is a need to reach out to some enforcement institutions, like labour inspection. For example to organize public hearings.
We want them also to say maybe we should do more, including on the issue of compliance within global supply chains, and to reach out to multinational enterprises through their member employer’s organizations.
Lastly, these conferences very often lead to requests for the ILO and our partner namely AICESIS to go to the national level and do some work to build capacity in these institutions on social dialogue and policy issues, for instance workplace compliance.
The conference, titled Promoting Workplace Compliance including in Global Supply Chains: The role of Economic and Social Councils and similar social dialogue institutions, takes place at The Hague from 29-30 October.