Cross-Border Labour Justice 

“Labour is not a commodity.”

Companies should never compromise employees’ freedom, safety, and dignity while establishing full and productive employment. Rising disputes due to unfair labour practices like low wages, unsafe working conditions, overtime abuse, forced labour, discrimination and mistreatment, and denial of labour rights have led the world to introduce International Labour Standards. Recently, we saw a dispute over global fashion brands exploiting Bangladesh workers, with a study of over 1,000 clothing factories revealing signs of unfair practices like paying legal minimum wage and not complying with labour safety standards during the COVID pandemic. It took direct charge of companies to avoid unfair practices even during global demand and energy crises through exploiting workers.

Taking lessons from past incidents, MNCs and HR management are constraining on adopting fair practices, such as fair wages and benefits, healthy working conditions, reserved labour rights, anti-discrimination laws, work-life balance, sustainable employment practices, and collaboration with global union and trade bodies. Gradually, such practices address major employee or worker exploitation and promote sustainable employment worldwide. Setting the goal of productive and equal remuneration, workplace safety and social security for families, better prospects for personal development and social integration, and individual freedom.

Forced labour has been a rising global problem, affecting almost all countries worldwide, prevalently in private sectors and factories with illiterate workers. An increased trend of globalisation and market competition leads to a toxic work culture and exploitation to derive productivity. Global HRs should take the initiative to ensure fair compensation by complying with wage acts, providing safety training to secure a hazard-free environment, guarding fundamental labour rights, and implementing inclusive policies to foster respect and dignity for every worker. 

Multiple global acts have been established to preserve labour rights, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), International Labour Organization, United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGP), European Union Directives, North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) / United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), and others. These regulatory acts compel companies to follow ethical standards and promote labour equity. 

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