Tokyo 2020: Forum for Decent Work

03 October 2018 21:01

One of the worksites for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

On 28 September the BWI and its Japanese Affiliates Council (BWI-JAC) held an international forum looking at the risks to human rights involved in the preparation for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics. 

The Forum brought together stakeholders from unions, government and Tokyo 2020 implementing agencies, including the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. 

In his opening remarks, Dietmar Schaefers, Deputy President of BWI and Chair of the BWI Ad Hoc Working Group for Sports Campaign for Decent Work stated, “We hope that this event will represent an opportunity for all stakeholders to share their positive experience of social dialogue in previous mega sporting events.”

The first panel involved wide-ranging discussions on social and labour clauses binding the procurement process, and measures that project holders have put in place to resolve grievances. 

“At the moment the rules are very good, but accessibility is key. Workers need to have access to easy-to-use mechanisms that deliver justice swiftly,” noted Johan Lindholm, Vice-President for BWI Europe Region and Chairman of the Swedish construction workers’ union Byggnads.

Another core area of discussion was around how to guarantee workers’ rights in the construction industry, where subcontracting is commonplace. “I’m not going to pretend that’s an easy question,” said BWI Asia-Pacific Vice President Dave Noonan. 

“When a company makes a decision to outsource parts of the construction process that is often a commercial decision, but it has impacts on the roles and responsibilities of protecting workers’ rights and conditions. In our view, lead contractors should exercise responsibility right down the chain of subcontracting.” Health and safety was also a key focus, particularly with a number of projects behind schedule. The Japanese construction work has an embedded culture of overwork, and the 2017 fatality that occurred at the New National Stadium was a result of a worker doing 190 hours of overtime work within a single month. 

“All stakeholders involved will need to be mindful of how the culture of overwork can magnify existing health and safety risks and engage specific strategies to ensure that all work is carried out in a safe manner,” said Ambet Yuson, General Secretary of BWI. 

Panel on Human Rights and Mega Sporting Events.