ITUC Urges Full Implementation of the World Bank Labour Safeguard

New materials from the World Bank will help borrower countries uphold fundamental worker rights, decent employment and safe worksites. Dialogue and cooperation with trade unions will ensure the realisation of fair treatment and quality jobs.

Loans from the World Bank seek to create development and jobs, but for decades the workers executing these projects have been vulnerable to rights violations. In August 2016, a new safeguard that requires borrowers to respect basic labour standards on Bank-funded projects was approved. The labour safeguard will take effect by the end of 2018, alongside updated environmental and social standards. In a major step toward implementation, the Bank has issued guidance notes for borrowers with information on applying the safeguards.

“The ITUC looks forward to the effective implementation of the labour safeguard, supported by the new guidance materials and continued dialogue with trade unions. The guidance note rightfully places the core labour standards front and centre, alongside practical steps to involve trade unions, ensure fair working conditions and guarantee safety,” said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

The guidance note instructs borrowers and project contractors to not use disguised employment relationships to deny workers their rights. Detailed steps are provided to prevent the abuse of migrant workers, child labour and forced labour and worksite hazards.

The World Bank faced criticism for failing to include the universal core labour standards of the International Labour Organization in the safeguard. The guidance note partially fills this gap, but the safeguard still does not fully protect trade union rights in many countries.

The safeguard promotes consultation with trade unions by governments and World Bank staff throughout the project cycle.

“Robust application of the labour safeguard will make an invaluable contribution to sustainable development and improve conditions for thousands of workers. Trade unions stand ready to work with the Bank and borrower governments to ensure that the safeguards become a reality on the ground, and that projects are designed to support inclusive growth,” said Burrow.

To see the World Bank Guidance Notes.

To see the ITUC/Global Unions comments to the World Bank.