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In brief

  • All TPP Parties are members of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and recognise the importance of promoting internationally recognised labour rights.
  • The Labour Chapter of the TPP promotes compliance with internationally recognised labour rights and the effective enforcement of labour laws.

The obligations

  • The labour rights and laws relate to freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining; the elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labour; the effective abolition of child labour and a prohibition on the worst forms of child labour; and the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.
  • Parties are also required to adopt and maintain statues and regulations governing acceptable conditions of work with respect to minimum wages, hours of work and occupational safety and health.
  • In the Labour Chapter, Parties also recognise that labour standards should not be used for protectionist trade purposes, more specifically:
    • Parties are not to waive or otherwise derogate from their labour rights statutes or regulations in order to affect (i.e. attract) trade or investment;
    • Parties must not fail to effectively enforce their labour laws through a sustained or recurring course or action that affects trade or investment between the Parties.
  • Another aspect of the Labour Chapter relates to procedural guarantees: Parties are to ensure that there is appropriate access to impartial and independent tribunals for the enforcement of labour laws, and that proceedings before these tribunals are fair, equitable and transparent; comply with due process of law; and do not entail unreasonable fees, time limits or unwarranted delays.
  • The importance of cooperation as a mechanism for effective implementation of the Chapter, to enhance opportunities to improve labour standard and further advance common commitments on labour matters is recognised, and the Chapter establishes a mechanism for inter-Party cooperation, including principals to guide it.
  • The TPP establishes a Labour Council composed of senior government representatives designated by each Party. Meeting every two years, the Council is tasked with activities including considering matters related to the Labour Chapter; establishing and reviewing priorities to guide decisions about labour cooperation; discussing matters of mutual interest and facilitating public participation and awareness of the implementation of the Chapter.

Overall impact

Given the (for the most part) comprehensive labour regulations already in place in Parties with advanced economies, it is in the developing economies that the Labour Chapter should have greater impact. So saying, improvements in regards to labour violations and enforcement are expected to come in the long term, rather than the short term.

For more information, or if you have any questions, please contact the sector experts listed on the side.

Key contacts

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Anthony Wood

Partner, Melbourne

Anthony Wood
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Drew Pearson

Managing Partner, Sydney

Drew Pearson
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