There is an irritating paradox marking the global situation around global labour standards: Despite a growing number of initiatives, recommendations and suggestions for various policy instruments, the widespread violation of basic industrial human rights continues to be a profound challenge of the world’s social development, at least as defined in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and the ILO_International Labour Organisation’ conventions.
Despite a rising number of various instruments developed by a multitude of public and private actors on various levels with the ambition to uphold global labour standards, around the globe, examples of labour standards violations are widespread. In many industries and sectors within and across countries, organized irresponsibility is a widespread phenomenon if it comes to the conditions of work and employment. Severe violations of industrial human rights seem to be part and parcel of numerous cross-border supply chains and production networks. This holds for products and service we consume everyday such as smartphones, fashion items, online book ordering or the purchase of a chocolate bar in your local supermarket.
This is a very sad state of affairs: Labour standards are industrial human rights and include any aspect of an individuals’ working life from pay and wages, working time, health and safety regulations to non-discrimination and equal opportunity. Workers’ rights also extend to collective rights such as union representation and collective bargaining. Labour standards protect, empower, and promote those who work in the workplace and beyond, also by placing restrictions on what is a tolerable work at all, for example by prohibiting child and forced labour.
When these rights are violated this is a problem for the individual workers affected, first and foremost. For the individual workers, today’s exploitative working conditions come in many forms and types, and usually bring along with them tragic injuries and deathly incidences. But they also kill slowly by worsening living conditions, shortening life expectancy, and reducing life chances of hundreds of millions of workers across the globe. But labour standards violations also come along with wider repercussions for societies such as political conflict, social disintegration, and weakness in taking on future challenges such as climate change.
The #LIB’s conclusion is that these ongoing labour standard violations are caused by a huge gap between rulemaking and the enactment, implementation, and enforcement of these rules. Despite the many national and international initiatives by single legislating bodies, state agencies and bodies, international organizations, trade unions, civil society organizations, corporations and engaged individuals, this gap has proven to be persistent for decades. Therefore, the #LIB aims at collecting and spreading the existing knowledge about this social problem, but also wants to support those who identify, create, and realize solutions in practice to end labour standard violations. For this purpose, labour inspection is broadly defined as those labour politics with the goal to end labour standard violations. These politics take place in various fields and arenas and are carried forward by various actors. Examples include supply chain & due diligence legislation, union networks and global framework agreements as well as civil society campaigns, consumer activism and state agencies and bodies entitled to enforce labour standards. For ending labour standard violations, it is still not known what the right mix of labour inspection instruments looks like. To assist in finding out in collective debate and exchange is the goal of the #LIB. You are warmly invited to collaborate.