ONLINE EVENT | A UN treaty for decent work in global supply chains - Perspective of the trade unions

Perspective of the trade unions
UN mit Fahnen
UN mit Fahnen

Transnationally operating corporations and their globally branched value chains control three-quarters of world trade. The expansion of their value chains has often been accompanied by the relocation of production and jobs to low-wage countries in Central Eastern Europe, Asia and the Global South. However, the jobs created frequently do not meet the standards of decent work.

In many countries, women workers are denied the right to organize within trade unions and bargain collectively. Wages that are not enough to live on, long working hours, insecure employment contracts, lack of health and safety protection and discrimination are other features of work at the beginning of many global supply chains. In the case of human rights abuses by transnational corporations, those affected are faced with major obstacles to obtaining justice.

This shows that the existing instruments for protecting human rights and labour standards as well as environmental standards in global value chains are not sufficient. Voluntary approaches to regulate a company’s behaviour, whether it be at company level, national or global level have not been able to improve working conditions in supply chains in recent decades. Initial binding regulations at the national level, such as the current discussion about a German supply chain law, are a right approach, but need a global framework.

For this reason, many trade unions are now supporting an international human rights agreement that would oblige companies worldwide to exercise human rights and environmental due diligence along their supply chain. From October 26 to 30, 2020, the sixth round of negotiations on such a UN treaty will take place in the Human Rights Council of the United Nations.

On the fringes of the negotiations, we want to discuss together with trade union representatives from Germany and Pakistan as well as representatives of the International Trade Union Confederation and the global industrial trade union federation IndustriALL why existing instruments fail and what elements the UN treaty must contain in order to achieve a real change towards a fairer global economy.

Co-organizers: medico international, Global Policy Forum, IG Metall, IGB, ECCHR, IndustriALL Global, Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung


Please register by 27 October 2020. You will receive the Zoom access link via email one day before the event.



English-German simultaneous translation provided
Before official start introduction technical details


Welcome and introduction: Christian Weis, Executive Director medico international
Keynote: Sharan Burrow, General Secretary International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)

Inputs by:

Georg Leutert, Director Automotive and Aerospace Industries IndustriALL Global Union

Nasir Mansoor, Deputy General Secretary National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) Pakistan

Hans Lawitzke, Secretary of the Ford European Works Council

Ben Vanpeperstraete, Sr. Legal Adviser ECCHR

Facilitation: Karolin Seitz, Director Business and Human Rights Programme Global Policy Forum

Closing Remarks: Horst Mund, IG Metall Executive Committee, Head of Division Transnational Trade Union Policy


Download the invitation and programme here.

Download the invitation in German here.