Decent Work in Global Supply Chains

Unit 6, Lecture 1 - Intro to Global Framework Agreements


GFAs are a policy instrument of trade unions in particular of the global union federation’s, the worldwide representative organizations of sectoral unions.

Global unions developed this policy in the 1990s as a means of engaging w/ multinational enterprises and holding them and their suppliers and contractors accountable for working conditions and employ representation in their operation.

GFAs are applicable everywhere in the world the MNE operates. The framework agreement lays down basic principles and standards generally originating in the core labor standards of the ILO while also defining procedures to be followed in handling cases of violation.

GFAs are voluntary and not legally binding. The provide unions w/ an opportunity to monitor corporate behavior (reality of work and labor relations on the shop floor).

GFAs are being used to address the challenge of transnational solidarity by aggregating the interests of diverse group of workers through a global value network – they are more far-reaching policy instruments than any other previous attempts at MNE-specific policies by transnational unionism.

Global Union Federations (GUFs) crafted Global Framework Agreements as a labor relations-based alternative to CSR based unilateral and voluntary codes of conduct. Their primary goals were:
- gain recognition from MNEs as legitimate negotiating counterparts
- initiate social dialogue
- strengthen unionization
- influence HR practices across the global economy

By the end of 2014, over 100 GFAs were in force.

Basic characteristics that define a GFA:
- a private contract between a MNE and at least one GUF
- guarantees mutual recognition of actors on both sides i.e. representing labor and management
- provides for processes of conflict resolution, either through joint investigation and decision-making or through internal corporate process
- set basic standards and recognize workers’ rights (at minimum will be based on the ILO core labor standards)
- defines an organizational domain or arena within which its provisions are valid

Motivations for MNEs
- regarded as a means of extending and bolstering its commitment to CSR
- a means of enlisting unions in their efforts at risk management
- a way to address the need for a global approach to human resource management

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