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CNV Internationaal: Engage Embassies more to strengthen labour rights

“Enlist the help of our diplomatic contacts in getting foreign governments to enforce labour agreements. Have embassies encourage Dutch companies abroad to cooperate with unions so they are actively taking responsibility for creating better working conditions throughout the world.”

This is the advice given by Arend van Wijngaarden, President of CNV Internationaal. On the Dutch government website, towards the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, CNV Internationaal advocates the idea that economic diplomacy should be intrinsically linked to labour law diplomacy. This would include embassies playing an active role in the implementation of the Dutch polder model.

Social dialogue is a good export product

Van Wijngaarden states, “The Netherlands plays a leading role in creating stability in the economic sphere. Social dialogue is a good export product, and one that the Cabinet should use more often.” In addition, CNV Internationaal says the Cabinet’s trade missions should focus more on corporate social responsibility (CSR) and social dialogue among the various parties in order to improve supply chains.

During a public internet consultation in March on, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs requested that the involved parties share their knowledge on this topic of foreign trade and development cooperation. For them, it’s a national priority to have active international policy. Foreign trade and investments are good for the nation’s prosperity. International developments influence society. The minister would like to use development cooperation to significantly reduce poverty and create a safer, more sustainable world.

This Cabinet is striving to present a pro-active trade agenda which will help companies and knowledge institutes gain access to the markets they need. According to the minister, this will only be possible when excellent economic services, diplomacy, and active commercial policy have been established. Every entrepreneur that wants to expand globally needs to be able to count on governmental support for information, advice, financing, and worldwide service.

Social dialogue structure creates stability

CNV Internationaal is also adamant in insisting that service to companies can only be considered excellent when it is also socially responsible. Van Wijngaarden, “We advise the Ministry for Foreign Affairs to explain social dialogue more thoroughly. Having a structure for social dialogue with worker and independent union representation will create more social and economic stability.

People need to have a place where they can stand up for themselves. This is the most sustainable approach to creating a world free from poverty. When you give people a voice, they can be influential. Trade unions are inherently organisations that represent their members on various levels and they give their members a voice so they can have direct influence. This motivates workers and research shows that companies actually perform better under these conditions.”

Publication date 21 03 2018