Safeguarding labour standards through co-enforcement

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Safeguarding labour standards through co-enforcement

How to ensure effective enforcement of labour standards in the context of various violations of employee rights in practice? During the conference summarising the two-year international project entitled “SPLIN. Fair working conditions: exploring the contribution of cooperation initiatives between Social Partners and Labour inspection authorities”, we discussed the main conclusions of the study focusing on examples of innovative co-enforcement of labour standards in the construction and maritime transport sectors.

The conference was opened by Bettina Haidinger representing Project Leader FORBA (Austria) and keynote speeches were delivered by Kristine Krivmane from the Department of Sectoral Social Dialogue at DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion and Matthew Amengual from Saïd School of Economics at Oxford University. The concept of co-enforcement was outlined by prof. Amengual based on his research in Argentina and the USA.
The key results of the study were presented next by Pablo Sanz de Miguel (NOTUS) focusing on experiences in the construction sector, while Sanna Saksela-Bergholm (University of Jyväskylä) presented research conclusions regarding the maritime transport sector. The morning session was closed with the statement of Joaquim Pintado Nunes, who drew attention to the provisions of the International Labour Organization conventions.
In the second part of the conference, three discussion sessions were held. The first round table entitled “What is needed to fix enforcement of decent labour standards? What can social partners contribute? A practitioners’ assessment from the construction sector” was conducted by Pablo Sanz de Miguel and concerned the following issues:

1.    What are the main problems and challenges for enforcing labour standards (including OHS) in the construction sector (subcontracting, etc.)?  2.    How can cooperation between trade unions and employer organisations and between social partners and public authorities (co-enforcement) improve enforcement results in the construction sector? 3.    How can a consensus be reached between social partners (TU and EO) and between social partners and public authorities to co-enforce labour standards? Based on your experience, which are the main difficulties for concluding a co-enforcement agreement?
The second Roundtable entitled “Lessons from Labour Standard Enforcement in Maritime Shipping” was chaired by Nathana Lillie (University of Jyväskylä) and concerned the following issues:
 1.    How can PSC inspection of labour standards be improved? Is there a role for cooperation between trade unions and PSC? What is the shipowners’ role (i.e. co-enforcement like in the construction industry)?   2.    What should the role of the Maritime Labour Convention vs. ITF standards be in maritime shipping? 3.    Should new EU legislation or other EU initiatives be considered to improve labour standards in maritime shipping?  What might those be?  The new Posted Workers Directive (revised) (which specifically excludes transportation) specifies a European “right to strike” – would something like that be useful in maritime shipping? What about EU promotion of transnational labour inspection and social partner cooperation in PSC (as the EU does in construction, and as Jaime Gonzalez is involved in)?
4.    What lessons might trade unionists, employers and labour inspectors in other industries learn from maritime shipping?
In the closing session, Bettina Hadinger presented the key findings of the Co-Enforcement Transfer Workshops in project countries, while Krzysztof Bandasz presented the activities of the European Labour Platform.

Project publications are available at:
The country reports for Poland can be found at: 

The SPLIN project is financed by the European Commission, DG Employment under the budget line "Improving expertise in the field of industrial relations" (VP / 2018/004), GRANT AGREEMENT NUMBER VS / 2019/0080

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