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Set down worker interests in free trade agreements

If you want to enforce those worker rights, you will need proper monitoring, sanctions and enforcement.”

Van Wijngaarden: “The report brings up a number of possibilities, but does not present any proposals on what a new system should look like. That is why we are appealing to Ploumen to make this a priority. One of the options is joining the International Labour Organisation (ILO), but if that happens they will have to be able to start enforcing agreements.”

Arbitration committe for workers rights violations

International trade agreements include ‘sustainability chapters’ increasingly frequently, to protect, among other things, worker rights. If any commercial disputes arise between countries or companies, countries can present these cases to an arbitration committee. Trade unions should also have that opportunity if workers rights are violated..

Van Wijngaarden: “Referring to ILO standards and directives in a trade agreement is step one. Trade partners must subsequently agree that workers rights are just as important as other social aspects and at least as important as investors’ rights. But what’s most important is the sanctions that are imposed if the agreements are violated.”

Publication date 06 04 2017