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II- Businesses’ Responsibility to Respect Human Rights

Introduction [page 37]

The NAP refers to framework agreements on by citing the CSR Platform’s recommendation of November 2014 to “encourage the generalization and strengthening of International Framework Agreements including criteria for human rights respect, measures to ensure regular monitoring of their effective implementation and a mechanism of evaluation ex-post.”

3. Risk Analysis and Impact Assessment

Practical Tools Addressing Specific Issues [page 41]

  • ILO has created a business helpdesk providing questions and answers, resources and tools on issues connected with workers’ rights: …, freedom of association, … It also offers free and confidential assistance for company directors and workers.

4. International Framework Agreements [page 42]

An international framework agreement is an instrument negotiated between a multinational enterprise and a global union federation. It defines the rights of those working for the group’s subsidiaries and subcontractors around the world, as well as the social and environmental standards the parties wish to comply with. Generally, the agreement includes a monitoring mechanism involving trade union participation. International framework agreements enable businesses to make international commitments to human rights by working with employees and trade unions and respecting the same standards in all the countries they operate in. Businesses should be encouraged to conclude such agreements.

As of October 2015, 112 international framework agreements had been signed around the world.

One of France’s goals under this action plan is to significantly increase the number of international framework agreements.

Actions Underway:

  • France encourages the generalization and reinforcement of international framework agreements that include human rights criteria, measures to regularly monitor their implementation and ex-post evaluation mechanisms

5. Employee Representatives [page 43]

In its 2013 opinion, the CNCDH recommended that “employee and union representatives be kept informed and consulted and be able to express their opinions when it comes to producing a company’s management report”, as this would “improve the credibility of such reports”. It added that each company should “be obliged to indicate whether there is in fact any form of union or employee representation within each of its entities and subsidiaries.”

The Act of 14 June 2013 on job security introduced several new provisions in this field. It gave employee representatives the right to vote on the administrative boards of large French companies (meaning they also had the right to discuss the content of management reports submitted to these boards). The act also reinforced obligations to keep employees informed by improving processes for consulting with and providing information to works councils.

Actions Underway [page 44]

  • France ensures staff representative bodies have sufficient operating resources to defend human rights.

 

III- Access to Remedy

1. Judicial Mechanisms – At the National Level

1.4 Proceedings

The Jurisdiction of French Courts to Hear Criminal Matters [page 49]

More specifically, French legislation is strict in combating human rights violations by legal entities. Under French law, it is a criminal offence for companies to engage in activities that breach equality laws (…, anti-union discrimination, …), …, or social, health and safety laws (hindering organizations representing employees, …).

 

2. Non-Judicial Mechanisms – At the International Level

2.2 ILO Enforcement Mechanisms [page 56]

There are also three specific procedures for examining representations and complaints: …, and the special procedure for examining complaints about freedom of association (heard by the Committee on Freedom of Association).

2.4 The European Social Charter [page 57]

In order to promote and guarantee social rights not covered in the European Convention on Human Rights, the Council of Europe drew up the European Social Charter, which was adopted in Turin in 1961. Significantly, the 1961 Charter covers …, the right to organize, the right to bargain collectively, …

… France ratified the revised 1996 version of the European Social Charter, which took effect on 7 May 1999, at the same time as the 1995 Protocol providing for a system of collective complaints (ratified by 15 of the Council of Europe’s 47 Member States).

To enforce the Charter, a European Committee of Social Rights was created. This Committee adopts conclusions on the national reports submitted by State Parties, and adopts non-binding “decisions” on collective complaints lodged by national and international employers’ and employees’ organizations and NGOs. These conclusions and decisions must be approved by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.

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