Trade unions demand strong workers’ rights in new European GSP
BRUSSELS (ICFTU) - EUROPEAN Union member states must include strong
clauses to defend workers' rights in the new Generalised System of
Preferences (GSP) Regulation providing trade benefits for developing
countries, says the international trade union movement.
The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU),
European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and World Confederation of
Labour (WCL) are deeply concerned at reports that the European
Commission and certain member states are considering a clause to water
down the GSP's labour standards content.
The reported proposals could weaken the trade regulation's
long-standing link to ratification and implementation of the eight
fundamental workers' rights conventions of the International Labour
Organisation (ILO). For example, countries such as El Salvador would
still benefit from "GSP-plus" trade benefits under the GSP despite its
failing to ratify the two International Labour Organisation (ILO)
conventions on fundamental trade union rights, and its government's
troubling record of violations of labour rights.
"These reported proposals fall way short of labour rights conventions
ratified by well over a hundred countries and are nothing short of
unacceptable" said ICFTU General Secretary Guy Ryder. "The ratification
of core labour conventions has until now been a prerequisite for the
granting of trade benefits under the GSP-plus system, and its
predecessors. The international trade union movement doubts that the
European Union wishes its GSP to contribute to a race to the bottom."
WCL General Secretary Willy Thys stated that, "The repercussions of
the proposed exemption would be felt far beyond the GSP system itself
and prompt a generalised weakening of international efforts to ensure
ratification and implementation of ILO conventions."
"The Commission must reach the inevitable conclusion that Belarus is
not complying with its obligations to respect basic international labour
conventions, most notably freedom of association," stated Ryder.
The international trade union organisations also underlined the
necessity for the government of Sri Lanka to implement the 'road map' to
establish its compliance with core labour standards.
"The text of the GSP plus system is categorical and unequivocal: all
beneficiaries must ratify and implement fully all fundamental workers'
human rights conventions.
This applies equally to El Salvador, to Sri Lanka and to any other
current or potential beneficiary, and the trade union movement will not
hesitate to demand an investigation into any country that is in breach
of its GSP obligations", stated ETUC General Secretary John Monks.
The ICFTU represents 145 million workers in 233 affiliated
organisations in 154 countries and territories.