International Framework Agreements (IFAs), also called Global Framework Agreements (GFAs), are agreements between multinational enterprises and a Global Union Federation (GUF) with the aim to establish an ongoing relationship between these parties to ensure that the enterprise respects the same standards in all the countries where it operates. These standards refer to trade union rights, health, safety and environmental practices, and quality of work principles in place across a company’s global operations. Often sectoral trade unions of the home state of the multinational enterprise involved too participate in the negotiations of an IFA. This is also the key difference between IFAs and other CSR initiatives: IFAs are concluded with trade union representatives, rather than with an international organization.
Companies party to a IFA commit to apply the agreement to their entire supply chain, even if supplier companies are not parties to the IFA. While each agreement is specific to the requirements of and problems faced by the companies and trades unions involved, each IFA includes the four fundamental principles and rights at work (abolition of forced labour and child labour and promotion of freedom of association and protection of the right to collective bargaining) recognised by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and references to the ILO Core Conventions. Other provisions too refer the standards set by the ILO, such as the protection of worker’s representatives, wages, occupational safety and health and skills training.
For more information about International Framework Agreements, please visit the ILO website.