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Asian Development Bank remains non- compliant to ILO core labour standards for 18 years

Updated: Jan 29, 2019

As the 9th Asian Development Bank (ADB) Roundtable on Labor Migration in Asia: Innovative Approaches for the Effective Management of Labor Migration in Asia closes in Tokyo, Japan, NGO Forum on ADB calls out the ADB on it’s non-compliance to the International Labour Organization (ILO) Core Labour Standards (CLS), resulting in major violation of several ADB funded projects. The ADB has an MOU signed with the ILO since 2001 and has yet to incorporate the said standards into its policies and core operations till date.

In 2008, the Madhya Pradesh Power Sector Reform Project in India funded by the ADB for US$ 620.00 million, had incidences of many workers being denied their collective bargaining rights. By not being able to form their own unions the workers were denied their basic right as per ILO CLS. In addition, health and safety issues were neglected, and social security benefits were withdrawn.

The same thing happened to the Melamchi Drinking Water Project in Nepal in 2008, funded by the ADB for US$ 120.00 million, workers were once again not provided with written and formal employment contracts. Without formal contracts workers were exploited through compulsory overtime work. Consequently the work environment did not allocate any provisions for safe drinking water access to majority of the workers.

In India, the Rajasthan Renewable Energy Transmission Investment Program, funded by the ADB for US$ 300.00 million, further violates the CLS as there were no separate toilets for women workers, and there were no specified child care centers considering most women workers were mothers.

The ADB in 2001 committed that their design and the formulation of its loans, and implementation of its projects will comply with the internationally recognized core labor standards, but for the last eighteen years, the Bank has not been able to integrate and include the full extent of the CLS into its Safeguard Policy Statement of 2010. Violations of the rights of workers and trade unions in ADB funded projects persist.


Written by Jen Derillo. Jen is NGO Forum on ADB's Program Coordinator for Communications.


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