Research Handbooks in International Law series
Edited by Adelle Blackett and Anne Trebilcock
Chapter 15: Freedom of association in international framework agreements
Global Union Federations (GUFs) have been concerned with the undermining of worker rights by the transnational corporations (TNCs) since the 1970s. This worry has not been abated by comprehensive sets of binding international rules, as none exists; by national laws, as these have proved relatively ineffective at doing so; nor by TNC corporate codes of conduct, too often characterised by deficient normative content and inadequate follow-up mechanisms, which sometimes even undermine legitimate worker representation. GUFs have therefore developed their own regulatory model: international framework agreements (IFAs). IFAs are characterised by the conjunction of four elements that constitute the building blocks of the concept: the involvement of one or more GUFs in the negotiation and signing of an agreement with a TNC; a rights content usually derived from International Labour Organization instruments; some form of procedure to review the implementation of the agreement; and a provision concerning subsidiaries, suppliers and business partners. This chapter discusses the negotiation of IFAs, their use as a tool for social dialogue and organizing, as well as challenges in achieving compliance and potential solutions.
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