BWI Global Conference Demands a Voice in Future Mega-Sporting Events Bids

03 July 2017 15:43


Delegates attending a union conference in Berlin have demanded a greater voice in shaping decent work in mega sporting events. At a session of the BWI Global Conference on the Nexus of Sports and Migration, unions shared their strategies for engagement with Mega Sporting bodies to improve labour standards.  The session was moderated by Nina Mjoberg of LO Norway.

In Sweden unions have worked to strengthen labour standard in mega sports events for a decade focused around four pillars – being on the ground, member-to-member engagement, taking action and negotiations. President of Swedish construction union BYGGNADS Johan Lindholm said that they now have successfully concluded an agreement on human rights in sports with the Swedish Sports Confederation and Swedish Olympic Committee.

Secretary General Serge Pléchot (CGT-France) emphasized how they have worked to embed ethics and social responsibility in France’s 2024 Olympic bid and the Rugby World Cup 2023. Their efforts have been focused on achieving equal pay for equal work, respect for work time and salary time and the protection of workers’ rights.

In response to the presentations, Baik Seok Keun, President of the KFCITU shared their experiences in their campaign linked to the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.  Baik stressed the need for increased intervention from international sporting bodies such as the International Olympic Committee to ensure safety and health and facilitate resolutions of back wages. 

The conference unanimously supported the ongoing need for lobbying to strengthen workers’ rights and conditions through the bidding process of mega sports events, including at the national and city level. Fostering greater cooperation with national and international sporting bodies and concluding agreements, as well as engaging sports players and improving communication were also key topics of interest.

The BWI’s ongoing engagement with FIFA to strengthen the protection of construction workers’ rights is an example of one such initiative. In May 2015, the BWI filed an OECD complaint against FIFA to the Swiss NCP calling on FIFA to use its leverage to ensure the human and labour rights of migrant workers working on 2022 World Cup Tournament Projects.  After a year of negotiations mediated by the Swiss NCP, the final outcome of the case was released this May, where FIFA accepted responsibility to use its leverage to ensure decent and safe working conditions in relation to the 2022 World Cup.  In addition, FIFA has included the recognition, promotion and protection of human rights in its Statutes, and has established a Human Rights Advisory Board, which includes BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson. 

“The BWI’s cooperation with FIFA has been a unique process that shows both parties commitment to change”, said Yuson. “While still in its infancy it is, this partnership is already tackling a number of key areas of labour rights protection. We will continue to push FIFA to implement the recommendations of the Ruggie report, as well as working with unions and other organisations on the ground to ensure day-to-day implementation.”