Danish expertise to change working life for the world’s poorest
A new, unique partnership between the Confederation of Danish Industry and the trade union movement will support the development of fairer labour markets in developing countries. A conference in Industriens Hus last week marked the beginning.
Trade unions in Honduras, kindergartens in Vietnam and gender equality in Kenya.
These were some of the topics discussed at the conference “SDG 8 at work” last Tuesday, which marked the beginning of a new and unique partnership between the Confederation of Danish Industry (DI), the United Federation of Danish Workers and the professional development organisation of the Danish trade union movement, the LO/FTF Council.
The UN’s eighth sustainable development goal is about creating sustainable growth and decent jobs for everyone, and the purpose of the partnership is to support the development of fair and well-organised labour markets in developing countries. Minister for Development Cooperation Ulla Tørnæs was one of the keynote speakers.
“In Denmark we can offer our experience and expertise to help connect sustainable growth with human rights and social responsibility,” she said.
And that is very much needed, emphasised Chairman of Kenya Manufacturing Association Flora Muhati in her speech.
“SDG 8 is close to every African’s heart. In Kenya about 70% of the population consists of young people. If companies are not able to offer them decent jobs, we risk future repercussions in the form of serious public uprisings,” she said.
However, she also described the success her organisation - with support from DI, among others - has had in uniting its member companies in the struggle for better working conditions and more sustainable forms of production.
The SDGs are something entirely unique. They’re quite simply a better platform upon which to form some of the partnerships we’ve wanted to create for many years. Thomas Bustrup, International direktør & COO
Company: SDGs are in our DNA
CEO of Danish juice manufacturer Orana shared his experiences of how Danish values - long before they were formulated as a sustainable development goal by the UN - helped ensure the company’s success in international markets such as India, Vietnam and Egypt.
“People ask me why we decided to work with SDG 8. But actually, we didn’t. The SDGs are in our DNA. However, I can recommend doing it, because it pays off,” said Niels Østerberg from Orana.
From the very beginning, the company has implemented Danish standards and working conditions at all its production facilities. This has resulted in stable and satisfied employees, strong growth and good economic results in a number of countries that are otherwise seen as difficult to operate in.
“I explicitly encourage employees at our factories to organise themselves, because this gives management much better opportunities to enter into dialogue with them,” he explained.
Common interests bring together opposites sides
The consortium’s three partners were represented by COO/Deputy Director General, the Confederation of Danish Industry Thomas Bustrup, Vice-President, 3F - United Federation of Danish Workers Tine Christensen and President, LO and LO/FTF Council Lizette Risgaard respectively.
Each organisation has a long history of supporting the development of labour market organisations in developing countries. But all agree that they are now in a stronger position to show businesses and workers in other countries how traditional opponents can benefit mutually from seeking compromises and making lasting agreements.
“The SDGs are something entirely unique. They’re quite simply a better platform upon which to form some of the partnerships we’ve wanted to create for many years. Partnerships between us, our member companies and other parties that also have a vested interest in fulfilling some of these developmental goals,” said Thomas Bustrup, Deputy Director General, DI.
The Labour Market Consortium contributes to the Danish strategic development cooperation and has been assured financial support until 2021 from the Foreign Ministry of Denmark, Danida.
Focus areas of the partnership
The Danish Labour Market Consortium focuses on four main areas:
- An organised labour market
- Social dialogue
- Better framework conditions
- Competitive companies operating in a sustainable and responsible manner
Read more at www.sdg8.dk