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Business and Human Rights

Taking responsibility for its actions

Corporate Social Responsibility is a process by which a company takes responsibility for the consequences of its actions in the social, ecological and economic spheres throughout the chain. The company gives an account of its activities from this perspective and enters into dialogue with stakeholders.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) belongs to a company’s core activities. CSR should form an integral part of the business management. CNV, being a trade Union organisation, focuses on the social aspects of doing business:

  • Are the processed or traded materials produced in a socially responsible manner?
  • What about the labour conditions within a company or sector?
  • Does a company ensure that minimum conditions are met when it engages in activities abroad?
  • Does the company work to achieve improvements when wrongs or abuses occur


CNV assigns priority to the following standards

The CNV protects and advocates workers’ rights worldwide. With respect to Corporate Social Responsibility the CNV assigns priority to the following internationally recognized standards:

  1. Protecting the universal human rights of workers and of the people in the community in which the company operates.
  2. Freedom for workers to be represented and to organise themselves in a trade union. Where trade unions are not officially recognised, the employer facilitates other forms of independent organisation and representation of workers. (ILO Convention 87)
  3. The right to collective negotiations; workers’ representatives must be enabled to negotiate and consult with decision-makers. (ILO Convention 98, supplemented by 135, OESO Guidelines IV, Art. 8)
  4. Workers must be able to choose their work freely; contributing to the eradication of all forms of slavery and forced labour. (ILO Conventions 29 and 105)
  5. Not employing children who are still at the compulsory school age (in any case no children aged 15 or younger (in some countries an exception is made at the age of 14) and participating in and contributing to schemes to remove currently working children from the labour situation and to enable them to undergo education. (ILO Conventions 138 and 182 and OESO Guidelines).
  6. Non-discrimination among workers. (ILO Conventions 100 and 111)
  7. The payment of a living wage. This means a wage with which one can meet the basic needs of an average family. (ILO Conventions 26 and 131)
  8. Ensuring safe and healthy working conditions for workers. (ILO Convention 155 and Recommendation 164)
  9. Applying and ensuring a maximum number of working hours, in principle no more than 8 hours a day, 48 hours a week. (ILO Convention 1)
  10. Providing job security. (ILO Tripartite Declaration of Principles Concerning Multinational Enterprises Art. 24-28)

The CNV regards the following standards as important supplementary workers’ rights:

  • Providing workers with relevant training. (ILO Tripartite Declaration Art. 29-32)
  • The right to the submission and handling of complaints without the risk of being punished or discriminated for this. (ILO Tripartite Declaration Art. 57 and 58)
  • The right to timely provision of information in matters such as reorganisations, collective dismissal and redundancy schemes. (OESO Guidelines IV, Art. 6)
  • The employer may not threaten with, for instance, relocation of the company when exercising the right to organisation. (OESO Guidelines IV, Art. 7)
  • Where possible local personnel should be employed and trained, and wages and labour conditions may not be less favourable than those applied by comparable employers in the host country. (OESO Guidelines IV, Art. 4a and IV, Art. 5) 

Guiding treaties and instruments


These human rights and labour rights are based on international treaties ratified by most countries.

There is a range of international treaties, guidelines and instruments. Several of these play a guiding role:

  1. Universal Declaration of Human Rights (particularly Article 23)
  2. ILO conventions (labour standards set by the International Labour Organisation, the tripartite United Nations organisation for labour)
  3. ILO tripartite declaration on multinational enterprises
  4. OESO guidelines for multinational enterprises
  5. UN Protect, Respect and Remedy Framework, also known as the Ruggie Principles. 


Labels and certificates

If you start monitoring human rights and labour rights within your company's supply chain, these are the guiding labels and certificates: 

  • SA8000

  • GRI

  • Global Compact

  • ISO26000
How to start monitoring chain responsibility within your company