CIME WORKING PARTY
ON THE REVIEW OF THE OECD GUIDELINES
FOR MULTINATIONAL ENTERPRISES
TUAC welcomes this opportunity to give our views on the progress so
far with the Review of the Guidelines. We recognise the open way in which
the OECD and in particular the Chair of the Working Party on the Guidelines
has conducted the Review. This progress if built on could lead to the Guidelines,
as revised, to become an important and effective instrument of governance
of the global economy. However, the key outstanding issue remains the much-needed
development of effective implementation procedures. Without this the revised
Guidelines will lack credibility.
Strengthening the Implementation Procedures: Benchmarking the Current
TUAC would support many of the suggestions contained in the Secretariat
paper Towards Effective Implementation of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational
Enterprises . We would support the new promotional initiatives under
active discussion: annual meetings and reports of the National Contact
Points (NCPs); the inclusion of the Guidelines in countries inward investment
promotion; and a Guidelines web site.
The proposal that NCPs have regular consultations with the social partners
and make these an integral part of annual meetings of the NCP is positive.
This goes some way, but not far enough, to meeting the TUAC proposal that
NCPs should be encouraged to have tri-partite structures. The TUAC proposal
for the establishment of more general orientations and terms of reference
for the operation of the NCPs has yet to be adequately addressed
. We welcome the idea that enterprises and business federations be encouraged
to endorse the Guidelines through, for example registers of companies publicly
stating their support for the instrument.
We look forward to discussing ways to take forward these ideas, and
to define more clearly concrete steps at national level that could be taken
by governments and others to make them effective. Consideration should
be given to joint initiatives, for example, between the OECD, UN bodies,
the IMF, World Bank and regional organisations such as the EBRD and European
Commission to promote and implement the Guidelines, alongside work to promote
the Principles on Corporate Governance.
The proposal for a new conciliation procedure for dealing with individual
cases merits consideration as well as further discussion around unresolved
questions, such as the role of the CIME in this process. TUAC supports
the idea that the process could be initiated if one party requests it and
the right of all participants to express their views publicly, though the
exclusion of formal records of the proceedings should be reconsidered.
We are willing to enter into further discussions around these issues to
examine how such a process could be made to work.
However, for the procedures to have credibility with TUAC affiliates
an element of contestability must be built into the system so that there
is some means of recourse where procedures are seen not to be working.
We would propose the following. When a problem arises the conciliation
process could be initiated. A two-stage process could then be followed.
In the event that the conciliation process helped to resolve the problem
then no further action would be required. In the event that conciliation
failed to resolve the problem, then it could be referred upward to an expert
group at the OECD level. Outside experts would be invited to participate,
depending on the issues. So for example, the ILO could be involved on a
labour related issue or UNEP over the environment. The expert group would
have the right to pronounce its view on the issue as it related to the
Guidelines, and make recommendations to resolve the problem. The mechanism
would be flexible enough to accommodate NGO concerns through their participation
Formalising the Extension of the Guidelines beyond the OECD area
TUAC supports formalising the extension of the Guidelines beyond the
OECD area. The credibility of the Guidelines would be undermined were governments
to restrict the application of the instrument to the OECD area. Moreover,
the OECD Council Resolution covering the modalities of non Member country
participation in the work of the Organisation would allow for their adherence
to the Guidelines alone.
Outstanding questions do exist around the issue of how best to involve
non Member governments in the follow-up process. However, those are of
a technical nature. For its part TUAC can state that trade unions in non-OECD
countries would participate in the process through our partnership with
Moving forward on Textual Revisions
As regards the Employment and Industrial Relations Chapter we welcome
the reference to all four ILO Conventions of the 1998 Declaration. However,
still lacking is a reference to the Declaration itself in the Chapter.
As concerns child and forced labour the text simply states that enterprises
should contribute to their abolition or elimination. The language should
be strengthened such that enterprises refrain from employing child or
forced labour, including that by suppliers.
Consistency with ILO Conventions would be retained by the inclusion
in paragraph 1d of language from ILO Convention 111 itself: race, colour,
sex, religion, political opinion, national extraction and social origin.
Paragraph four currently provides for enterprises to provide a safe
and healthy working environment. To give meaning to the follow-up and
implementation procedures the provisions should be more clearly defined.
Similarly, paragraph six on reasonable notice should be strengthened
to define the concept more clearly.
TUAC supports the inclusion in the Introductory Chapter of text committing
governments not to lower labour, health, safety and environment standards
to attract investment.
The revision to the General Policies Chapter such that enterprises should
respect the human rights of their employees, as well as encourage the
respect of human rights by business partners and in the societies in which
they operate is a step forward. That should be more clearly defined by
a direct reference to the 1948 UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
along with a reference to the 1998 ILO Declaration. The inclusion of all
between respect and the would also be helpful.
The proposal to include a new Chapter in the Guidelines on Bribery and
Corruption is welcomed by TUAC, in particular the language on the protection
TUAC welcomes the re-design of the Disclosure and Transparency Chapter,
and its new provisions. However, we are concerned at the design of the
twin track approach, whereby enterprises should disclose material information,
but the text only encourages them to disclose non-material information
on relations with employees, risk management systems, and ethical statements
and other codes. To be consistent and coherent enterprises should disclose
both types of information. The importance of this is as follows. From an
operational perspective, it would be difficult to query the implementation
of those issues that MNEs are only encouraged to do. That is also inconsistent
with other Guidelines chapters where the word should is used to determine
the actions of enterprises. Second, work under way in other fora, for example
the Financial Stability Forum on risk management systems for financial
markets are likely to develop regulatory mechanisms on disclosure. The
Guidelines should be consistent with that.
The revisions to the Environment Chapter were much needed. We welcome
the new recommendations to on environmental education and training and
the protection of whistleblowers. However, the omission of references
to employees information disclosure and the right not to undertake dangerous
tasks must be rectified. Clauses should be added that draw on the OECDs
Guiding Principles for Chemical Accident Prevention, Preparedness and Response,
which states that: an employee should have the right to refuse to do any
task which he/she believes may create an unwarranted risk or accident,
or which is dangerous to health or the environment. Also required is the
establishment of formal consultation mechanisms, and two-way flows of information
between management and health and safety representatives.
(2) See TUAC Initial Submission on the Guidelines - April