BWI trains ADB staff and consultants on infra projects’ labour standard compliance

Last 19 October, BWI trade union leaders discussed the importance of labour standards in infrastructure projects financed by international financial institutions (IFIs) to a support training attended by the staff and consultants of the Asian Development Bank (ADB). 

The training, which was in collaboration with the ADB’s Sustainable Development and Climate Change Department, also discussed the role of IFIs in positively influencing labour and working conditions, and trade union practices to secure better working conditions. Healthy and safe working conditions, fair wages and strong commitments against forced labour were also tackled, as well as the importance of social dialogue as a tool for effective stakeholders’ consultations to mitigate the projects’ possible adverse effects to working people and communities.

TKTMS (India) President Ponkumar Ponnuswamy led the discussion by sharing his union’s experience on the Chennai Metro Project, which was partly financed by the ADB. He said that IFIs and unions must work together to guarantee inclusive development and decent work in all infrastructure projects. “We should ensure that the project implementation aligns with our goals,” he said. 

This was followed by PFBWW (Pakistan) General Secretary Aslam Adil who presented his union’s organising efforts in the World Bank-funded Tarbela Dam Project. Adil narrated how the creation of a grievance redressal mechanism helped in effectively raising and resolving labour issues at the project site. He explained that the mechanism is comprised of representatives from the trade union, management (including key contractors), project consultants and the project holder, the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA). He said that the collaborative atmosphere of the grievance mechanism allowed them to address ground-level issues.

Meanwhile, Federation of Free Workers (FFW-Philippines) Vice President for Research and Advocacy Julius Cainglet discussed the importance of social dialogue as an effective consultation tool for all stakeholders to deliberate and mitigate a project’s possible adverse effects on working people and communities. He presented the different social dialogue mechanism available, such as bipartite tripartite and tripartite-plus mechanisms at the national, regional and global levels. 

Other guest speakers were ADB Director Bruce Dunn and ADB Senior Specialist Haidy Ear-Dupuy of the ADB Safeguards Division, ITUC Director Leo Baunach BWI Asia-Pacific Representative Apolinar Tolentino and BWI Global Coordinator Construction Linnea Wikström.

BWI expressed hope and optimism that the training will be the start of greater cooperation between the global union and ADB in protecting labour rights in infrastructure projects funded by the financial institution.