A meeting of G7 ministers of Employment, Labor, Social Affairs, International Cooperation and Development in Berlin on Tuesday committed to mobilize their efforts and political leadership to build on the decision adopted in June to boost “labor rights, decent working conditions and environmental protection in global supply chains.”
The ministers agreed on a series of measures, including the creation of a multi-donor Vision Zero Fund for action in producing countries. The fund will support social dialogue and the application of International Labor Organization standards on occupational safety and health, and fundamental principles and rights at work in global supply chains.
ILO figures show 2.3 million men and women die every year from work-related accidents and diseases. An estimated 4 percent of the world’s gross domestic product is lost annually due to the costs of work-related accidents and diseases, according to the ILO.
“The Vision Zero Fund will help prevent and reduce the unacceptable number of workplace-related deaths, injuries and diseases,” said ILO director-general Guy Ryder, who attended the meeting. “Gaining access to global supply chains can be an important part of strategies for poverty reduction. The fund will help to make this route safer. The ILO will work closely with governments, workers’ and employers’ organizations, as well as with other stakeholders, to ensure that the G7 agreement translates into concrete improvements in the lives of the estimated 450 million people who work in global supply-chain-related jobs.”
The final declaration of the G7 ministers stated that the ILO will assume the lead role in the implementation of the fund. It will be funded by public and private contributions. Its first pilot activities will start in 2016, focusing on the ready-made garment sectors of selected producing countries. The actions are an outcropping of the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh in April 2013 that resulted in more than 1,200 deaths.
Ryder also welcomed specific efforts to promote fair production in small and medium-size enterprises, including through a general discussion on “decent work in global supply chains” scheduled to take place during the International Labor Conference next year.
The G7 also expressed support for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its sustainable development goals, especially by working alongside developing countries. It also stressed the need to provide more information to consumers and to promote more responsible value chains.