While multinational enterprises play an important part in economies of most countries and in international relations, their operations beyond the national framework may lead to abuse of concentrations of economic power, conflicts with national policy objectives and with the interest of the workers.
Additionally, the complexity of multinational enterprises and the difficulty of clearly perceiving their diverse structures, operations and policies sometimes give rise to concern either in home or in the host countries.
To this end, the Governing Body of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) approved the Tripartite Declaration of the Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy at its 204th Session in November, 1977, subsequently amended at its 279th Session in 2000 and its 295th Session in 2006.
The principles of the declaration are intended to guide governments, employers’ and workers’ organisations of home and host countries and multinational enterprises in taking measures and actions and adopting social policies, including those based on the principles laid down in the ILO Constitution and the relevant Conventions and Recommendations of the ILO.
A day’s sensitization session for employers’ organisations and enterprises on the ILO MNE Declaration was held in Accra last week and the training was organised under the T rade for Decent Work project sponsored by the European Union.
Officer-in-charge of the ILO office in Ghana, Mrs. Akua Ofori Asumadi intimated that the declaration seeks to uphold international labour standards in enterprises, not only multinational ones, but national enterprises as well.
She said the declaration seeks to talk about corporate social responsibility to promote social dialogue between workers and employers in an enterprise for the promotion of decent work. Descent work refers to international labour standards with regards how an employee is protected at the workplace, equal pay for equal work, elimination of child labour, equity and equality between gender and the amount of working hours permitted, for instance.
Local enterprises, mining enterprises and other multinationals operating in the country attended the sensitization workshop to use corporate social responsibility to promote decent work.
Kingsley Laar, an economist and research officer with the Ghana Employers’ Association (GEA) noted that although a lot of multinationals in the country adopt a lot of international standards in their operations, the GEA ensures that their code of conduct is in line with the labour law in the country.
That is why the GEA has collaborated with the ILO to ensure that multinationals in the country are sensitized on the principles and guidelines that would achieve descent work in relation to the country, Laar stressed.
The continued prominent role of multinational enterprises in the process of social and economic globalization renders application of the principles of the MNE declaration important and necessary in the context of foreign direct investment and trade, and the use of global supply chains.
The principles laid down in the Tripartite declaration of the Principles concerning Multinational enterprises and Social Policy (MNE Declaration) offer guidelines to multinational enterprises, governments, and employers’ and workers’ organisations in such areas as employment, training, conditions of work and life, and industrial relations.