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labor rights violations occur. Omitting the informal economy would substantially distort a country’s compliance record. Barbara Shailor of the AFL-CIO hoped that the National Academies project would result in the development of new indicators of compliance that would more accurately reflect workplace conditions. In a similar vein, Carol Pier suggested that indicators be devised to measure the general “climate” of labor relations.
Many participants forcefully recommended that the database be open and accessible to all interested organizations and individuals, transparent in terms of its methodology, upgraded regularly, and interactive in nature. Interactivity means that the database would be structured to allow comments from the public and, if need be, corrections based on these comments. An open dialogue and the ability to challenge the results will act as a peer review process and increase the legitimacy of the data.
Representatives from unions agreed that the database would be useful in their negotiations with companies, and it would increase the role of unions in the monitoring process. Mike Grace noted that CWA’s previous efforts to highlight worker exploitation in developing countries were attacked on the grounds that CWA’s information was biased, but this will not be the case with the National Academies database. It will provide a complete picture of the labor rights climate in many foreign countries, and this information could be used in bargaining with management to pressure companies to comply with ILS. Governments could also use the database to learn how other countries treat their workforces and what this has meant in terms of social development and standard of living.