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Title:  Appendix B: Reporting on Worker Rights, 1995
Author:  U.S. Department of State
Date:  March 1996




                            APPENDIX B

                     Reporting on Worker Rights

The Generalized System of Preferences Renewal Act of 1984 requires 
reporting on worker rights in GSP beneficiary countries.  It states that 
internationally recognized worker rights include "(A) the right of 
association; (B) the right to organize and bargain collectively; (C) a 
prohibition on the use of any form of forced or compulsory labor; (D) a 
minimum age for the employment of children; and (E) acceptable 
conditions of work with respect to minimum wages, hours of work, and 
occupational safety and health."  All five aspects of worker rights are 
discussed in each report in a final section under the heading "Worker 
Rights."  The discussion of worker rights considers not only laws and 
regulations but also their practical implementation, taking into account 
the following additional guidelines:

    A.  "The right of association" has been defined by the International 
Labor Organization (ILO) to include the right of workers and employers 
to establish and join organizations of their own choosing without 
previous authorization; to draw up their own constitutions and rules, 
elect their representatives,
and formulate their programs; to join in confederations and affiliate 
with international organizations; and to be protected
against dissolution or suspension by administrative authority.

The right of association includes the right of workers to strike.  While 
strikes may be restricted in essential services (i.e., those services 
the interruption of which would endanger the life, personal safety, or 
health of a significant portion of the population) and in the public 
sector, these restrictions must be offset by adequate guarantees to 
safeguard the interests
of the workers concerned (e.g., machinery for mediation and arbitration; 
due process; and the right to judicial review of all legal actions).  
Reporting on restrictions affecting the ability of workers to strike 
generally includes information on any procedures that may exist for 
safeguarding workers' interests.

    B.  "The right to organize and bargain collectively" includes the 
right of workers to be represented in negotiating the prevention and 
settlement of disputes with employers; the right to protection against 
interference; and the right to protection against acts of antiunion 
discrimination.  Governments should promote machinery for voluntary 
negotiations
between employers and workers and their organizations.  Reporting on the 
right to organize and bargain collectively includes descriptions of the 
extent to which collective bargaining takes place and the extent to 
which unions, both in law and practice, are effectively protected 
against antiunion discrimination.

     C.  "Forced or compulsory labor" is defined as work or service 
exacted from any person under the menace of penalty and for which the 
person has not volunteered.  "Work or service" does not apply in 
instances in which obligations are imposed to undergo education or 
training.  "Menace of penalty" includes loss of rights or privileges as 
well as penal sanctions.  The ILO has exempted the following from its 
definition of forced labor:  compulsory military service, normal civic 
obligations, certain forms of prison labor, emergencies, and minor 
communal services.  Forced labor should not be used as a means of (1) 
mobilizing and using labor for purposes of economic development; (2) 
racial, social, national, or religious discrimination; (3) political 
coercion or education, or as a punishment for holding or expressing 
political views or views ideologically opposed to the established 
political, social, or economic system; (4) labor discipline; or (5) as a 
punishment for having participated in strikes.  Constitutional 
provisions concerning the obligation of citizens to work do not violate 
this right so long as they do not take the form of legal obligations 
enforced by sanctions and are consistent with the principle of "freely 
chosen employment."

     D.  "Minimum age for employment of children" concerns the effective 
abolition of child labor by raising the minimum age for employment to a 
level consistent with the fullest physical and mental development of 
young people.  In addition, young people should not be employed in 
hazardous conditions or at night.

     E.  "Acceptable conditions of work" refers to the establishment and 
maintenance of machinery, adapted to national conditions, that provides 
for minimum working standards, i.e., wages that provide a decent living 
for workers and their families; working hours that do not exceed 48 
hours per week, with a full 24-hour rest day; a specified annual paid 
holiday; and minimum conditions for the protection of the safety and 
health of workers.  Differences in levels of economic development are 
taken into account in the formulation of internationally recognized 
labor standards.  For example, many ILO standards concerning working 
conditions permit flexibility in their scope and coverage.  They may 
also permit countries a wide choice in their implementation, including 
progressive implementation, by enabling countries to accept a standard 
in part or subject to specified exceptions.  Countries are expected
to take steps over time to achieve the higher levels specified in such 
standards.  It should be understood, however, that this flexibility 
applies only to internationally recognized standards
concerning working conditions.  No flexibility is permitted concerning 
the acceptance of the basic principles contained in human rights 
standards, i.e., freedom of association, the right to organize and 
bargain collectively, the prohibition of forced labor, and the absence 
of discrimination.

(###)

[end of document]

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