Setting a global benchmark

Colombo: When we discuss about the implementation of and monitoring compliance with international labour standards (ILS), certain questions naturally arise in our minds.

They are:

  • Does setting up of ILS and the stipulation to implement them take into account the vast differences between the north and south blocks in their socio-economic, demographic and political systems?
  • Do these systems have any relevance in formulating and recommending ILS? Or vice versa, do the standards lend themselves relevant in a world of varying economic, political and social diversities?
  • If so, what are the basic changes that are to be brought to ILS to make the nations compatible to ratifying them?

There is a valid reason for bringing such critical questions to the fore at the outset itself. Unfortunately, some of the industries in the developed nations, including the US, which are to be a model for the developing nations in regard to compliance with ILS, are themselves often found flouting the standards.

These corporations, while adhering to ILS in their own countries, follow double standards dishonestly and surreptitiously in their environmental, labour and human rights practices abroad, especially in the third world countries, where they put up their factories and industries.

For example, in regard to the issue of equal remuneration, these corporations do not pay their employees of the third world countries, who are engaged in their factories set up in these countries, an equal amount that would be payable in their own countries. Worse, the employees are compelled to work for more than eight hours.

This forum should examine why this unethical exploitation of labour by the developed nations in the developing countries is happening. And this leads to another question: Is it ever possible to enforce a uniform ILS in a world of multiplicity and economic pluralism?