The challenges of labor inspections, under discussion in Valencia


Digital platforms, deregulation, precariousness, unregulated work, discrimination… Labor inspection officials from 80 countries analyze in Valencia the main challenges in their field, a key space in the dignity and recognition of labor rights work. The city hosts the first world forum of these characteristics, where technicians share their experiences of good practices at an international level. The forum, organized by the Ministry of Labor and the International Labor Organization (ILO), discusses new guidelines and practices to improve labor inspections, based on the document approved by the ILO last March.

Despite the diversity of the cases analyzed, the speakers agree on new risks to be faced: the protection of platform workers and new forms of work such as teleworking, the protection of migrant workers -including those in an irregular situation- and protection against others such as psychosocial risks, workers’ health and the global energy crisis.

On the new ILO guidelines, in the panel made up of officials from the Philippines, Peru and Spain, the speakers underlined that labor inspectors should not depend on local authorities to avoid interference, underlined the need for cooperation and collaboration with other institutions and social organizations interlocutors to have a more effective inspection activity and consider that the voluntary forms of self-regulation are a complement and not a substitute for the Inspection.

At the opening of the day, which will continue this Friday with the Vice President and Minister of Labor, Yolanda Díaz, the Secretary of State for Employment, Joaquín Pérez Rey, pointed out that in Spain the inspection realized that “more than 51,500 false self-employed people have their employment relationship recognized; it has made 670,000 temporary contracts permanent and has allowed thousands of domestic workers to have their jobs regularized”. The number two of the ministry has recalled the change that the rider’s law and platform inspections, which demonstrated a working relationship between delivery drivers and the apps in which their services were offered, serving as the basis for the EU Work on Platforms Directive.

During the five tables, the representatives shared some examples of good practices or legislative changes. In Peru, they advocate integrating technology as an inspection tool, facilitating channels for accessing complaints, sending dissuasive messages or requests to know if a worker has been registered in the system; In Chile, where the rate of informal work is high, social dialogue and tripartite councils, where there are representatives of workers, companies and local bodies to resolve disputes, are advocated, an approach also used by the Norwegians. In France, every three years, plans are drawn up with priorities for the Labor Inspectorate, which are presented to social agents, highlighting occupational health objectives. In the United States, officials are focused on protecting vulnerable workers who cannot bring complaints, as the balance between employers and workers has become lopsided, to the detriment of the latter, and there are a transfer of labor inspectors to the public sector, with higher salaries.

The labor inspectorate, a century-old institution, is working to adapt to the current context of relocation and digitalization of employment, which sometimes hides pitfalls and precariousness. The second vice-president of the Generalitat Valenciana and former director of the National Labor Inspectorate, Héctor Illueca, called for an adaptation and renewal of his services, assuming more powers. The Valencian leader, also responsible for the body, pointed out that the Spanish model is a reference in Latin America and attracts attention in other European countries “due to its general nature, since it assumes broad powers to control working conditions on issues such as wages or daily wages, but also on Social Security regulations and the prevention of occupational risks.

Ibero-American Network of Inspectors

This Wednesday, inspection representatives from Portugal, Spain and 13 Ibero-American countries formed a state working network, ahead of the forum, with the aim of designing shared strategies. The proliferation of undeclared and irregular work, the persistence of discrimination at work or the trend towards deregulation are some of the priority issues for the network, according to representatives of the Ministry of Labor of the Spanish government.

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