27 June 2000

By John Evans
TUAC General Secretary

The exchange we are having today is part of a much wider discussion of what are to be the rules governing globalisation. The lesson that TUAC draws from recent events and the message that should be given by this Ministerial is that global markets need governance. Global corporations need effective counterweights through civil society, through unions and through effective regulation.

If the global market is to be socially sustainable, and not lead to negative investment competition and the fear of a “race to the bottom”, these rules have to cover social concerns. They also have to cover environmental concerns.

As multinational corporations are principal actors in the global market, these rules have to cover corporations and they need to be set by governments. The lack of governmental rules have led some corporations to fill the gap themselves, setting their own codes of corporate behaviour the more effective of which are externally verifiable. Many unions have also negotiated agreements with companies on their global activities. But governments have to set a floor of regulation.

TUAC sees the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises as part of the process of setting government expectations of corporate behaviour. They are a first step to rules which protect those corporations which observe standards, treat their workers well and protect the environment from those corporations that do not.

It is important that governments have now re-written and revised the Guidelines. It is important that the OECD has modernised an instrument that is 25 years old. We welcome changes in the text calling for respect for the core labour rights set out in the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Rights at Work. We would have liked it to have gone further on child labour and other issues, but it represents a compromise. It is also important that the Guidelines begin to address the responsibility of corporations for their sub-contractors in the supply chain and it is important that it is now clearly stated that the Guidelines apply globally and are a global instrument.

But the Guidelines must be effectively implemented. If they are not, it will just lead to cynicism. That has been the situation for the last ten years - “voluntary” has come to mean “optional”, there have been “Kafkaesque” clarifications from the OECD CIME, and so many National Contact Points have been non-existent.

Today governments are committing themselves to establish contact points that are expected to help resolve cases, make public recommendations in a procedure where the OECD can exert peer pressure to make contact points work. 

TUAC will be engaging with its members, with companies that want to make the Guidelines work, with governments and the OECD. We will also be working to expose companies and contact points that flout the Guidelines.

Chair, our aim is to start a race to the top in socially responsible corporate behaviour - a race to the top in the export processing zones and special zones that have sprung up around the world. The Guidelines mark the start of that process not the end of negotiations, governments will have to show the political will to implement what they have agreed to today.

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Capturé par MemoWeb à partir de http://www.tuac.org/news/nguidel2000.htm  le 25/03/02
Capturé par MemoWeb à partir de http://www.tuac.org/news/nguidel2000.htm  le 25/03/02