BWI to multinationals: Take global responsibility and cooperate on COVID-19

26 March 2020 08:19

COVID – 19 is a global pandemic. It must be dealt with both globally and nationally. Multinational companies play a major role at both levels, directly and through their value chains, sub-contractors, and other business relationships. 

BWI is sending letters to all companies with which it has international framework agreements, but also to other companies where there has been global social dialogue. The purpose of the letters is to ask them to use best practices on health, but also economic protection for workers in the fight against COVID-19. BWI is also contacting companies to gather and share information on good practice in dealing with the crisis and to offer cooperation. 

The suggestions for company policy are based on the recommendations of the ILO and WHO. They cover occupational health and safety practices, but also efforts to cushion the social and economic impact on workers of programs to contain and reverse the pandemic:

  • Recognise and bargain/negotiate at all appropriate levels with trade unions to identify threats to workers’ health, rights and welfare, and to develop and implement workplace responses; 
  • Recognise duty of care and exercise due diligence covering all workers in business and value chains, including in contracts with suppliers, prioritising the rights and welfare of these workers in response to the threats posed by COVID-19; 
  • Involve workers’ representatives in processes to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for COVID-19 threats and in the evaluation of employer and government responses; 
  • Ensure that health protection plans and necessary sanitary and social distancing measures are in place and are fully respected; 
  • Protect wages and full pay for all workers through a variety of means, mutually agreed through collective bargaining and other forms of emergency negotiations; 
  • Guarantee paid leave, in the form of sick pay or holiday pay, from the first day of leave, for any workers threatened with or infected by COVID-19; 
  • Establish compensation funds for workers, including those in non-standard forms of employment and work-related contracts, who are adversely impacted by COVID-19 and the responses to it; and, 
  • Offer customized and responsible workplace and working arrangements for workers. 

BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson explained the initiative, saying, “we have been gathering information on COVID-19 from affiliates and regional organisations. BWI unions are very active in fighting this pandemic and defending the rights and well-being of workers. That engagement includes not only working with governments, but also with employers. In that same spirit, and to re-enforce the good work being done at national level, BWI is reaching out to multinational companies to encourage good practices, strengthen global responsibility and extend the hand of cooperation to fight this common foe."