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Thursday, May 2, 2013

Reflections on Migrant Labour in China - Application of IFC Performance Standards and Equator Principles

Reading a recent blog post on migrant workers in China made me reflect on the implications for Labour and Working Conditions requirements of the Equator Principles. My blog entry considers what the IFC Performance Standards on Environmental and Social Sustainability say about the topic.

In establishing terms and conditions of employment, IFC or Equator bank Clients are required to identify migrant workers and ensure that the terms of employment for such persons are substantially equivalent to those of non-migrant workers engaged in comparable work.

These standards, including minimum age of employment, remuneration, overtime, hours of work, weekly rest, holidays with pay, safety, health, termination of the employment relationship and other conditions of work extend to migrant workers engaged through the services of a third party.

This approach reflects the interest of the IFC Performance Standards in preventing discrimination against migrant workers.  From a business perspective implementation of this objective may result in greater costs than would be incurred with application of minimal legal requirements, which may permit differential payments for migrant workers.  As Peter's blog suggests, discriminatory tendencies against migrant workers may be entrenched in local cultures and therefore difficult to overcome from a sustainable management perspective.

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