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Task Force for International Labour Rights and Issues

02.07.2018 - Article

Germany is committed to fair working conditions around the globe. Most products have crossed numerous borders before ending up in shop windows or in supermarkets. In a globally interconnected economy, the rights of employees are also becoming an international issue.

In a globally interconnected economy, the rights of employees are also becoming an international issue.
In a globally interconnected economy, the rights of employees are also becoming an international issue.© dpa

Labour rights: a global issue

At the Federal Foreign Office, the Task Force for International Labour Rights and Issues analyses the social impact of globalisation. It liaises closely with the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, trade unions and employers’ associations. Supporting German companies abroad also falls within the Federal Foreign Office’s remit. Promoting the development of fair working conditions in the respective regions plays an important role in this regard.

Progress only through international cooperation

It is clear to Germany that progress can only be made through multilateral cooperation. The Federal Government has therefore made the protection of labour rights a key issue of the German presidencies of the G7 and the G20. The most important guidelines in this regard are the core labour standards of the International Labour Organization (ILO). These standards are also referred to in the National Action Plan for Business and Human Rights and are based on international agreements establishing decent labour and social standards.

New challenges facing the German social model

The German economy derives its strength from the good cooperation between employees and employers. This strength is thanks in large part to the successful model that is co‑determination, which ensures that all stakeholders are involved in important decisions at all levels of a company or business. However, the globally interconnected nature of labour and production are posing new challenges to the German model. Owing to globalisation, co‑determination is increasingly a feature of European and international structures.

Global network of experts

The Federal Foreign Office has a network of experts in labour, social and health issues that is unique to the world. Many German embassies have desk officers specialised in social affairs. This personnel is seconded from both the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and from trade unions, as well as from the Confederation of German Employers’ Associations. These desk officers connect the Federal Government with labour ministries, trade unions and employers’ associations around the globe.

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