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How to seek remedy through international mechanisms

31 May, 2023A number of international tools and recourses exist to seek justice and remedy for workers’ rights violations. Here is a short guide to the instruments available, for your union to determine at different stages during a labour conflict if they can be used to increase pressure on a company or government. 

The ILO publication Promoting the strategic use of International Instruments for trade unions’ action provides valuable information on different international instruments to strengthen social dialogue, collective bargaining, and responsible business conduct.

Says IndustriALL general secretary Atle Høie:

“These tools exist and although the use of international tools can be a slow process, the fact of initiating a complaint is a form of pressure that can be leveraged at national level. We recommend you to take a closer look to see if they can be of use to your union.”

There is a growing body of legislation governing global supply chains and protecting workers in vulnerable situations. One recent example is the German supply chain legislation, where from 1 January 2023, workers and their advocates will be able to sue German companies in German courts for environmental and human rights breaches, including breaches of workers’ rights.

“We need mandatory due diligence legislation that includes access to legal redress. It’s collective action - the hallmark and the power of the international labour movement- that has given us the ability and the tools to fight to transform the global supply chain. We will continue our mandate to make sure the lives of our members in the sector improve through advancing workers’ rights, building union power, confronting global capital and ensuring sustainable industrial policy,”

says Atle Høie.

International instruments for trade unions

Global framework agreements  OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises
ILOInternational Accord
United NationsLabour standards at multilateral development banks