Guidelines for Labour Rights Assessments at Shipyards developed by GIEK

GIEK (The Norwegian Export Credit Guarantee Agency) has had a strong focus on working conditions at shipyards for over a decade, and in many cases have observed labour rights related risks and issues at the yards. Having poor controls of labour rights, as well as poor working conditions at a shipyard should not be a competitive advantage. We have therefore seen a need for a practical guidance on labour rights risks and working conditions in the sector, as well as guidelines for assessing such risks.

Extensive experience 

Norway’s maritime industry is among the world's largest and most comprehensive maritime export clusters. A natural consequence is that GIEK’s guarantee-portfolio contains many cases involving the ship building industry.

GIEK has developed Guidelines for Labour Rights Assessments at Shipyards with associated checklists as part of GIEK’s activities in the UN Global Compact Ocean Action Platform Shipyard Guidance Note. 

 The guideline is intended to:

  • Promote the understanding of salient risks specifically for shipyards
  • Provide a framework for classifying the severity of these risks
  • Outline responsive actions and examples of corrective actions
  • Raise awareness of involved parties in order to meet their responsibilities under the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights (UNGPs)

Guidance and checklist to promote good practice

This guidance and checklist are not intended to be used as part of a certification scheme. However, they are intended to provide a transparent set of good labour rights management practices for the sector. GIEK hopes that the guidelines may enable stakeholders in the shipbuilding sector to have a standardised method to promote good practice on addressing salient labour rights risks, and through this initiative to over time support the improvement on labour rights and working conditions at shipyards.  The salient labour rights risks for the sector have been defined as child labour, forced labour, freedom of association, discrimination, working hours, renumeration, as well as health and safety.

The guidelines and the checklists therefore provide a basis for ship owners, shipbuilders, shipyards , representatives from the shipyard’s (sub)contractors and suppliers, and financial institutions to be able to define the expectations for the management of labour rights and working conditions at the shipyard, whilst providing the shipyards with a clear guidance on how to address these points.

The basis for the guidance are the core ILO labour conventions and the UN Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

Red, yellow or green categories

The guidelines indicate management system measures to each salient labour rights risk, which extends from poor controls with major risks (red), controls with moderate or considerable risks (yellow), good controls with only minor risks (green), as well as best practice management practices (gold). The guidelines include a high-level audit methodology with a set of auditor checklists:

  • The labour audit checklist builds on the SA8000 standard and includes considerations for a robust management system, as well as detailed management practices for the identified salient labour rights risks.
  • The sustainability integrated checklist includes a more detailed Health and Safety section, worker welfare and accommodation, environmental performance, anti-corruption and local community impacts, in addition to the salient labour rights risks addressed in the labour audit checklist.

The choice of the checklist would depend on the scope of the assessment. The scope of the audit must be defined case-by-case based on relevant risk assessments, identified prior issues or issues in the supply chain, as well as controls and certifications already in place at the shipyard. 

The checklists allow the evaluation of individual items into red, yellow or green categories. The «non-green» points are migrated over to an Action Plan Document that can be utilised to plan and follow-up the needed improvement and mitigation measures.


GIEK Guidelines for Labour Rights Assessments at Shipyards

GIEK Labour Audit Checklist

Sustainability Integrated Checklist