FSC Labour Solutions Forum: Without unions, it is not Social Dialogue

19 May 2019 19:12


“The International Labour Organisation (ILO) is the only international tripartite organisation within the United Nations bodies that officially recognises trade unions as a partner in Social Dialogue and which central aim is to conclude binding collective agreements. Any attempts to mirror this mechanism without trade union as social partners and alter its raison d'etre is unacceptable and should not be called social dialogue at all,” said Apolinar Z. Tolentino, Jr., BWI Regional Representative for Asia Pacific during the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Labour Solutions Forum that was held 9-10 May in Geneva, Switzerland.

As part of the FSC Strategic Plan 2016-2020, particularly Action 19 of the Implementation Plan the FSC Labour Solutions Forum (LSF) was launched in 2017 to reach out to various stakeholders to create a platform for dialogue on labour issues. The first LSF was held 13-14 July in Lima, Peru. It discussed the work in progress of the FSC Technical Working Group (TWG) on ILO Criterial and Indicators as well as the rationale of BWI Motion 50 that was introduced at the FSC General Assembly in Vancouver, Canada of the same year. The FSC International Board approved the Report on September 2017 but the Motion was defeated due to strong lobby by the Economic Chamber against the motion.

This year’s second LSF was convened to highlight the work in progress of the TWG on Revising the Chain of Custody Standards (FSC-STD-40-004 V3-0 EN) as the main agenda as well as other voluntary assessment and dispute settlement, like Social Dialogue, as additional agenda items. In terms of the first main agenda item, the 2nd LSF was in many ways a sneak preview of the TWG Report before it undergoes an official Public Consultation that will take place from June to July 2019. However, during the group discussions, it was clear to the BWI participants that representatives from Economic Chamber was under the impression that Social Dialogue could be achieved without trade unions as a social partner.

“The ILO has all the authoritative and normative documents that categorically indicated the preconditions for Social Dialogue such as strong, independent workers' and employers' organizations with the technical capacity and access to relevant information to participate in social dialogue; and respect for the fundamental rights of freedom of association and collective bargaining. Anything short of this is a masquerade, added Tolentino.

Sukru Durmus, President of Tarim Orman Is and Mursel Tasci, President of AGAC-Is, reported to the Forum their difficulties of accessing workers in certified Turkey’s government forest estate and SFC Kronospan to have them organised.

“In the last five months alone, there had been 74 deaths reported in forest industry,” reported Sukru.

The BWI delegation consisted of Nor Azlan bin Yacob (TEUMP, Malaysia); Ponkumar Ponnuswamy (TKTMS, India); Celso Arce (SUTFACAP, Peru); Roberto Burgos (STMPM-STTM, Chile); Mursel Tasci (AGAC-Is, Turkey); Sukru Durmus (Tarim Orman Is, Turkey); Sarah Kuschel (IGBAU, Germany); Gulsah Doruk; and Marina Gurgel and Apolinar Z. Tolentino representing the BWI secretariat. In addition, Luis Armando Aznar Molina Jr. of the Social Chamber in Mexico was also in attendance.