Global Collective Contract

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= a proposal to globalize unions based on organzing around global supply chains


New Unionism blog:

"1. Global industrial relations has to focus on global supply chains. The most important instrument of global IR is the global collective contract (GCC), negotiated in the first instance between a global union and the corporation or corporations at the origin of a global supply chain.

2. The basic operating principle of the new global unionism is ‘cascaded contractual obligation’. A corporation that is a signatory to a GCC must include in each supply contract a clause by which the contractor itself becomes a party to the GCC. This contractual obligation is cascaded on to sub-contractors and sub-sub-contractors all the way to the end of the supply chain. Thus the basic terms and conditions in the GCC (see point 3) are priced into commercial contracts from the outset.

3. The main function of the GCC is to establish basic terms and conditions which apply even where meaningful local negotiations are absent. It should therefore include substantive items like minimum wages (in ppp terms) and maximum hours of work. Locally bargained agreements always take priority, but any derogation downwards from the basic standards would be exceptional and would have to be registered, monitored and reviewed annually. GCCs could also include commitments to joint action plans to develop independent worker organization, employer and union training and capacity-building etc.

4. It is up to local unions to organize and bargain improvements on the GCC, but ensuring the implementation of the basic terms and conditions specified in the GCC is the collective duty of the employer parties and is not dependent on local unions making claims for those conditions to be implemented. All companies ‘upstream’ from the location of any violation of the basic terms of the GCC are jointly liable for that violation – although they are not responsible for locally-negotiated improvements.

5. GCCs are registered with and placed under the authority of a new International Labour Court (ILC), which would issue (non-binding) rulings at the request of any party. Where no GCC exists, the ILC would nevertheless be able to issue rulings with respect to compliance with the ILO’s core conventions.

6. An ILC judgement against a company in a supply chain which was not followed by action by the companies further up the chain would trigger a right for workers upstream from that company to take part in legally protected solidarity action – in effect, they would be taking action against their own employers for failing to enforce the contractual duty of their contractors and subcontractors to respect the terms of the GCC.

7. The implementation of each GCC is funded accorded to a formula which forms part of the contract and is negotiated along with it. It is the corporations in the supply chain that provide this funding. This formula includes budgets for compliance monitoring and evaluation, union and employer capacity-building and a levy to fund the activities of the International Labour Court." (