V Employment & Industrial Relations

OECD Guidelines Chapter 5: Employment and Industrial Relations

The OECD strives for good relations within companies. This is reflected in certain recommendations to be found in the Guidelines. Investing in good relations will be rewarding in the long run.

Your company and partners in the value chain should pay attention to the following:

  • Respect the right of your employees to join trade unions or workers' representatives, free of choice. Employees have the right to be represented by either. By letting your employees be represented it is possible to reach a fair agreement on employment conditions. This shows you take the interests of your local staff seriously. This will make negotiations, concerning for example collective agreements, more efficient and effective. Your attitude will help your employees and their representatives to obtain a clear and honest picture of the performance of the entity or the enterprise as a whole.
  • Do not discriminate between employees.
  • Contribute to effective abolition of child labour and all forms of forced labour. You contribute to the abolition of child labour by disallowing products manufactured by children or which are forcibly made. Child labour is work done by children under the age of 15 which keeps the child from attending school and prevents a normal development of the child. Forced overtime or the amount of overtime needed to gain an fair wage is also considered forced labour. Other kinds of forced labour are bonded labour, withholding wages and the confiscation of identity papers and documents.
  • Take adequate steps to ensure health and safety of your employees.
  • Employ local workers and provide training to improve skill levels, in co-operation with worker representatives and, where appropriate, relevant governmental authorities. By employing and training the local workforce you increase local involvement and you increase the level of knowledge of your local staff.
  • Pay your employees a wage that is competitive to the host countries’ average wages. Provide a wage that will enable your employees to support their families, keeping in mind the average family size and basic needs like housing, food, healthcare and education. By paying your employees fair wages you actively help prevent child labour.
  • Major changes within your organization, like collective redundancies, can affect your staff deeply. Therefore it’s advised to communicate openly with your employees about upcoming changes within your business. Notify your staff and their representatives promptly, preferably before any final decisions are taken. By working together in advance, it’s possible to limit negative effects for your staff.
  • Never pressure or threaten your employees. It’s unadvisable for example to put pressure on negotiations about fair collective working conditions or to keep your staff from seeking representatives. Threats about removing the entity from the host country or collective redundancies are not an effective method in the long run for the changes you want, to take effect.

Knowledge platform and actions

In 2017 the worldwide Alliance 8.7 platform was created under auspices of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). The Alliance 8.7 is an inclusive global partnership committed to achieving target 8.7 of the 2030 sustainable development goals (SDGs). The platform was created in order to take actions and effective measures to eradicate forced and child labour, as well as human trafficking worldwide (even today over 160 million children are working).
More than 250 governments, workers’ and employers’ organisations and civil society organizations are united in this platform to exchange knowledge to stimulate innovations and to scale up actions.

International year for the elimination of child labour

The year 2021 has been nominated “international year against child labour” (the Alliance 8.7 platform refers to the UN sustainable goal 8.7). The Dutch government cooperates with workers’ and employers’ organisations and NGO’s to stimulate companies to take actions against child labour. If you would like to learn more about the initiatives, please visit the endchildlabour 2021 website.  

ILO and decent work

In 1977 the ILO accepted the “tripartite declaration of principles concerning multinational enterprises and social policy (MNE Declaration)”. The declaration, last updated in 2017, offers multinational enterprises guidances to realize decent work for everybody in their value chains.

To stimulate the principles of decent work, the ILO offers online training to enterprises. Should you be interested in, please visit the ILO homepage of the MNE declaration “tripartite declaration of principles concerning multinational enterprises and social policy (MNE Declaration) – 5TH EDICTION (2017)” where you will find a link to the e-learning module “Business and Decent Work: an introduction to the MNE Declaration”