Legislation and Waged Agricultural Workers
This is a summary of the report on “Labour Legislation and Waged Agricultural Workers:Policy Advice by the World Bank.” The report was commissioned for the OxfamInternational Labour Rights Team by Oxfam Novib, to inform its thinking on agricultureand development as well as to provide country based information to Oxfam nationalprogrammes in Indonesia, Philippines, Bangladesh, India, Morocco and Chile. The workfor this report was carried from late August to late September 2007.The report reviews key World Bank documentation to summarise the World Bankapproach and policy advice regarding labour legislation. This is done for World Bankadvice in general as well as for World Bank advice related to the six country casesreferred to above. The report also presents some discussion, for each of the countrycases, on how labour legislation relates to the agriculture sector as well as the analysisand recommendations of some other actors. The aim of the research is extremelyrelevant and ambitious. However, our work has focussed only on collecting the initial setof information.
Labour Legislation: The approach and policy advice of the World Bank.
The findings in this section suggest that it is not easy to talk about a general approach ofthe World Bank to labour legislation. On the one hand, we found that the World Bank’sLabor Market Group and the Social Protection Unit, together with other officialdocuments, such as the World Development Report 2006 on Equity and Development,often follows a “cautious” and evidence based approach, i.e noting clearly the trade-offsbetween flexibility and workers protection (see below). On the other hand, we found thatthe very influential Doing Business project follows an approach and policy advice onlabour legislation that is generally less “cautious” -also reflected in the WorldDevelopment Report 2005 “A Better Investment Climate for Everyone.”
A cautious approach
: The Social Protection Unit is responsible for supporting the Bank’ssocial protection agenda, and its documents generally recognise that there are strongdifferences of opinion about the costs and benefits of employment protection policiesand proposes that market policies must get beyond ideological positions and rely moreon empirical studies. Under this “cautious” approach, the World Bank has also providedsome support to the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) “Core Labour Standards”(freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining, elimination of forcedlabour, child labour and equality and non discrimination). This had been requested bythe countries providing funding to the World Bank. The Bank has included Core LabourStandards in its rating of countries for the purpose of resource allocation, (the CountryPolicy and Institutional Assessment, CPIA), and has also developed a toolkit for theincorporation of labour standards into the Country Assistance Strategies. However,there is some evidence that the use of the toolkit on recent Country AssistanceStrategies is limited and that Bank operations generally do not place significantemphasis on Core Labour Standards. By contrast, the Asian Development Bank hasrecently launched a much more comprehensive and systematic handbook on corelabour standards.The “cautious” approach to labour markets was also followed by the World Developmentreport 2006 which noted that “There is an international consensus that core labour