Fostering decent work for sustainable global supply chains

Statement by Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Anniken Hauglie at G20 Labour and Employment Ministers Meeting May 19th 2017.

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From the Norwegian perspective, there is no doubt that global value chains can provide mutual benefits.

As a whole they create jobs, increase productivity and improve the lives of so many.

Having said that, we all know that the organization of production within global supply chains is not without its challenges.

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As I said, we have no doubts about the overall benefits of international trade and global value chains.

That does not mean that developments in international trade and global supply chains have not led to changes in our labour market.

They have – and we expect that they will continue to do so.

Jobs have been lost. But new ones have been – and will be – created.

As a small country, Norway has to adapt.

Openness to adapting is ultimately an advantage.

As we see it, it is our own responsibility – and ultimately to our own benefit – that our domestic labour market and economic institutions are organized in a way that redistributes both the costs and the benefits of structural change.

We cannot let the burden of change fall exclusively on those who lose their jobs.

And we cannot let special interests halt progress.

We have a choice.

The domestic challenges arising from trade require attention, but we do not view them as impossible to overcome.

It is our experience that government, social partners and civil society organisations can smooth the process if they work together.

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Both nationally and internationally, it is important to ensure that the rise in global value chains contributes to inclusive growth and development that benefits all.

In order for this to happen, production in global value chains – wherever it takes place -- needs to adhere to labour standards and protect the rights of workers and businesses.

The complexity of chains should not be used as an excuse to escape responsibility or to allow governance gaps to persist.

Challenges and shortcomings related to occupational safety and health, wages and working conditions must be brought to light and addressed.

To achieve this, appropriate legislation needs to be in place.

Furthermore, labour inspection authorities must be able to adequately monitor workplaces and uncover shortcomings.

At the same time, businesses must comply with labour standards and take responsibility for their activities.

In return they get a global level playing field.

But we can't be naive.

Structures for providing redress and remedy are also necessary.

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To promote these ends, we have enacted a national action plan in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights as well as the recommendations of the OECD and the ILO.

We hope all countries do the same.

We also welcome further work and international cooperation on stipulating minimum standards and enabling equal competition for companies.  

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In closing, I would like to say that Norway fully supports the objectives of the Vision Zero Fund.

And I am pleased to announce that we wil be able to give 3 million Norwegian kroner to the fund this year.  

Thank you for your attention.