G7 Summit

G7 labour ministers meet

Vision Zero Fund launched

The G7 labour and development ministers have committed themselves to the goal of achieving decent work worldwide. After the meeting of G7 labour ministers, Federal Labour Minister Andrea Nahles and Federal Development Minister Gerd Müller launched the "Vision Zero Fund".

"Our products cannot today be produced on the basis of nineteenth century standards – irrespective of whether we are talking about clothes, shoes, glass or porcelain," summed up Federal Development Minister Gerd Müller after the two-day meeting of G7 labour ministers in Berlin. "We must ensure proper standards, and child labour must be abolished. To achieve this we need the companies, the two sides of industry, governments and consumers to work together."

Today 2.3 million people die every year as a result of occupational accidents and diseases. The economic costs are equivalent to four per cent of global GDP (gross domestic product), or over one billion euros a year.

Seven million euros for new Fund

Federal Labour Minister Andrea Nahles was happy to be able to launch a new global accident protection fund, the "Vision Zero Fund" after the meeting. The Fund, which is to be attached to the International Labour Organization, is to radically improve working conditions in poorer producer countries.

The Fund will focus on prevention: private companies and governments are to be advised on how to put in place national accident insurance schemes, train fire prevention inspectors and run in-company occupational safety training. The G7 states have so far pledged a total of seven million euros for the Fund, with three million euros from Germany, one million from the USA, and three million from the European Union. France and Italy have undertaken to provide inputs in kind, including in-country training courses. As of 1 January 2016 the Fund will be able to finance measures.

Making national OECD contact points better known

The statement issued by the labour ministers lays out additional projects to promote decent work worldwide. The contact points of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), which handle complaints about production conditions, are not sufficiently well known, for instance. There are 45 contact points over the world. They should be given a higher profile since they perform valuable mediation work between complainants, companies and governments.

In Germany the national contact point is attached to the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs. Any individual or organisation can file a complaint to the relevant national contact point if it is felt that a company is breaching OECD guidelines. The national contact point in the country in which the breach is alleged to have taken place is responsible. Should there be no national contact point in that country, the complainant should file the complaint with the national contact point in the country in which the company has its headquarters.

Quality seal for the textile industry

Gerd Müller advocated introducing a meta label (quality seal) for the textile industry. "There are lots of different seals. We need something to designate fair production like the ‘Bio’ seal in the food trade." The hundreds of labels that currently exist must be better structured so that they can provide consumers with more information. The website www.siegelklarheit.de already helps consumers find their way through the maze of labels. He is working hard, he reported, on a meta seal for the textile industry.

He is happy that more and more companies in poorer countries are undergoing certification procedures. "Bangladesh has 4,000 textile-producing companies, with a workforce of four million, mainly women. Of this total 1,500 have already undergone certification. Over the next few years we would like to see all other companies do so." Standards can be implemented, he said.

The EU’s Commissioner for Employment, Marianne Thyssen, Hao Bin, from the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security of the People’s Republic of China, which will hold the G20 presidency in 2016, Bayarsaikhan Garidhuu, from the Ministry of Labour of Mongolia, which is to host the 2016 ASEM summit, and Ahmet Erdem, the Turkish Minister of Labour and Social Security, also attended the meeting of the labour ministers of the seven leading industrialised countries.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015