International Framework Agreements: An Analysis of the International Framework Agreement as an Instrument for Improving Working Standards in Global Business Operations
13 Pages Posted: 6 Mar 2016
Date Written: January 29, 2016
The international framework agreement is a relatively new instrument, used by global trade unions to respond to the impact of globalization on the business operations of companies operating worldwide. This way, they address an issue (inter-)national legislators and regulators have difficulties dealing with. This paper combines information available from existing literature with empirical data derived from interviews with relevant actors and desk research. It aims to analyse the present state of the international framework agreement as an instrument and to formulate conclusions with regard to conditions an international framework agreement has to fulfil in order to be able to meet its objectives. Although in general the emergence of international framework agreements is perceived as a positive development with the potential of improving fundamental working standards in global business operations, some comments have been made in literature that are confirmed and fleshed out by the empirical data presented in this paper. These comments address the substantive content of the agreement, and emphasise the relevance of implementation and monitoring processes, both in the contracting company’s organisation and in its supply chain. They stress the relevance of investigating which parties are involved in these processes. If the issues identified in literature and in this paper are properly considered, the international framework agreement can be a compelling tool for global trade unions to pursue their aims. Unfortunately, research demonstrates that not all existing international framework agreements deal with these issues and some appear to achieve no direct practical impact at all.
Keywords: international framework agreement, workers' rights, trade unions, international labour regulation
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