During its G7 Presidency in 2015, the German government placed the subject of “decent work worldwide” on the agenda. At their summit in June 2015, the G7 heads of state and government decided to establish a global fund for preventing work-related accidents in producing countries – the Vision Zero Fund. Operating under the auspices of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the fund will seek to improve working conditions in poorer countries by funding preventive occupational safety measures run by public bodies, social partners, companies, and NGOs. The measures may concern public infrastructure – such as workplace inspections and accident insurance – or intra-enterprise processes such as health and safety training for management and workforce. The G7 states have pledged €7 million for the fund: €3 million from Germany, €1 million from the United States, and €3 million from the European Union. France and Italy have promised contributions in kind such as on-site safety training.
Social partners involved in steering the Fund
BDA represented the interests of German employers in the process of preparing the Vision Zero Fund. We made it clear that if working conditions are to be improved, the governments of the respective countries need to be supported in building state occupational safety capacities. Companies can complement these efforts, but cannot substitute for state action. BDA successfully petitioned the German government to have this differentiation between state and corporate responsibility reflected in the structure and funding of the Vision Zero Fund. Thus, the financial participation of global corporations is explicitly voluntary and – unlike the original proposal – complementary to government funding. By locating the fund at the ILO, BDA has also ensured that the social partners are closely involved in its steering.
Renate Hornung-Draus is Managing Director and Head of the Department of European Union Affairs and International Social Policy at the Bundesvereinigung der Deutschen Arbeitgeberverbände (BDA). Her specialist fields include European and international social policy and CSR.