From the TUC

New World Bank ‘labour safeguard’ is full of holes

14 Sep 2014, by in International

In July, the TUC joined other national trade union centres in lobbying our governments’ representatives to beef up a draft ‘labour safeguard’ proposed by the World Bank as part of their lending policies. But the draft that the World Bank have now issued for consultation is no better. It puts the World Bank behind the World Bank’s own private sector lending arm, the International Finance Corporation, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the African Development Bank. Essentially, it would leave the most vulnerable workers – especially contracted workers – without protection.

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has issued a detailed critique of the labour safeguard proposed, and ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow has said:

“While we welcome the intention of the World Bank to adopt a labour safeguard, the version proposed would have almost no impact in protecting the rights of those who work in Bank-financed projects, since it would not apply to contracted workers nor, except for some very limited provisions, to public servants.

“An important feature of all of the other banks’ labour safeguards has been their application to contractors and sub-contractors, thus ensuring coverage of a category of workers that is highly vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. By proposing to not protect these workers in its projects, the World Bank will perpetuate instances of unsafe working conditions, child labour, unpaid wages and denial of freedom of association that we have seen in Bank-funded projects.”

The World Bank has indicated it will consult publicly on the new ‘labour safeguard’, and the TUC will be writing to DFID Secretary of State Justine Greening urging her to bring the World Bank up to the standards of other international lenders. And if the World Bank come to Britain for consultations, we’ll be there to press them to improve their policy.