Action for Fair Production

12 + 13 October 2015 | Humboldt Carré, Berlin, Germany

“The G7 is taking action – it is moving forward. We are supporting production countries in implementing decent working conditions.” This was Development Minister Gerd Müller summation of the core message that emerged from the meeting of the G7 labour and development ministers on Monday and Tuesday in Berlin.

Together with Labour Minister Andrea Nahles, Müller had invited fellow ministers from G7 states and the European Commission to Berlin. Also present were numerous international organisations and high-ranking delegations from the G20 and ASEM along with social partners and representatives of the private sector. The meeting followed up on the commitments made by the G7 states and government leaders in Elmau in June 2015 to promote more sustainable global supply chains. The labour and development ministers passed concrete measures to move fair production forward, defining how they would push for good working conditions in the “Action for Fair Production” declaration.

The Vision Zero Fund is one such measure. It provides voluntary guidelines for improving safety training, fire safety and factory inspections, and offers assistance in introducing accident insurance. On Tuesday ministers Nahles and Müller were pleased to report that a number of countries has committed to the Vision Zero Fund, and it now had sufficient funding to begin its work. The Fund will operate under the aegais of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). Minister Müller introduced another concrete measure as well modelled after the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles, a concerted effort on the part of the government, trade unions, NGOs and civil society initiated by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development in 2014. All G7 states will set up similar associations involving the private sector, civil society and trade unions.

The declaration adopted at the end of the two-day meeting represents the culmination of the negotiation process. G7 and EU representatives also reported on what their respective countries had achieved and implemented thus far. French Labour Minister Myriam El Khomri described the ongoing process in France: A “monitoring plan” was already in place ready to spring into action at the threat of human rights, environmental or social standards violations. Members of delegations from China, Mongolia and Turkey received an especially warm welcome. Turkey is the current G20 president and Labour Minister Ahmet Erdem reported on the introduction of the World SME Forum initiated by his country. The forum serves as a platform of exchange for SMEs, particularly on issues involving technology and fiscal development. Erdem called for innovation in limiting the effort and expense of certification in particular, noting that SMEs often could not afford expensive certification and inspection processes. Mongolia, which will soon host the ASEM Meeting, and China, soon to act at G20 president, were both invited to attend as well. Andrea Nahles praised the continuity this offered, adding negotiations and agreements had to involve more than just the G7 states to really tackle the issue of global supply chains.

The declaration was also welcomed by the international organisations present, including the ILO and Asian Development Bank, and by social partners such as the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), the International Organisation of Employers (IOE) and the private sector representatives who attended. The conference was organised by the GIZ's Development Policy Forum on behalf of the BMZ and hosted in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.

Photo: The development and labour ministers of the G7 states meet with their counterparts from China and Turkey, among others, along with representatives of international organisations, social partners and the private sector to discuss sustainable supply chains.

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