Towards Fair and Sustainable Global Supply Chains: Promoting Decent Work for Invisible Workers in South Asia”

Special address by Ms Dagmar Walter, Director, ILO DWT/CO-New Delhi at a knowledge sharing workshop organized by the Sustainable Global Supply Chains project

Statement | New Delhi, India | 17 June 2022
Esteemed government officials from Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, business representatives, trade union representatives, home-based workers, stakeholders, partners, colleagues,

Ladies & Gentlemen,

Namaskar and a very good afternoon to all of you!

I am extremely delighted to see all the implementing partners of the ILO/Japan funded project “Towards Fair and Sustainable Global Supply Chains: Promoting Decent Work for Invisible Workers in South Asia” present in this workshop. This two-day workshop has been of great importance to assimilate the knowledge and experiences gained by all of you in the course of implementing together.

This project focussed on raising visibility and enabling rights of home-based and informal workers in the lower tiers of supply chains. Each one of you present here, joined hands with the ILO and extended your support over the past 3 years.

In this journey there were several roadblocks including the COVID 19 pandemic which had a serious impact on lives and livelihoods. Businesses lost work orders and workers lost livelihood. Yet you all continued your efforts and were able to make your strong presence felt among the home-based workers.

A very strong pillar that supported this project was the State Labour Department, Government of Uttar Pradesh. The Labour Department navigated the project along an agreed roadmap for action. Nodal officers were appointed in each project district as well as the head office who took initiative to implement the project activities and capacity building sessions with MSMEs. A dialogue on convergence was initiated by the labour department nodal officers along with the district administration to ensure decent work and rights to home-based and informal workers. The labour department also supported the trade union implementing partners in holding the E-shram camps, which enable home-based and informal workers access social protection as well as an identity.

The trade union implementing partners have helped in building a strategy to reach out and organise home-based workers and informal workers in the lower tiers of supply chains. In the course, you have been able to develop and articulate home-based workers as a key policy agenda. In UP, the AITUC affiliated ‘UP Home Based Workers Union’ formed and is active within and beyond the project districts; new membership of SEWA in new locations in Delhi and UP; new membership of the Banyan workers union affiliated to the AITUC in Tirupur are all examples of how worker solidarity is being strengthened on the ground and rights-based actions towards enabling decent work.

The Tirupur Exporter’s Association initiated a discourse of looking at issues of home-based and informal workers including workers in the job units within their membership and also created health and safety and gender cells as a pilot in a few enterprises.

At this juncture, with the support of all of you, the ILO has published 6 compendiums on Government Schemes for Home-Based and Informal Workers in English as well as Hindi and Tamil. These compendiums will both help the worker organizers with a background, based on which they can link workers to different schemes; and serve as a bedrock for convergent action that can be taken at an inter-departmental level in States as well as Centre.

As the project comes to a close, I request all of you to please continue your efforts so that the initiatives can sustain on the ground and get replicated manifolds.

Once again, I extend my heartiest gratitude and thank you all for being part of this very creative and successful ILO initiative on lower tiers of Sustainable Global.