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In support of decent work: Prof Colin Williams’ European Commission platform continues significant impact across EU

Prof Colin Williams, Chair in Public Policy at the Management School, is engaged in an ongoing project with the European Commission addressing undeclared work.

Tackling the undeclared economy has become a critical issue on the policy agendas of supra-national agencies and governments in recent years, leading to action from Prof Williams and his team in the Cluster for Research on the Informal Sector and Policy (CRISP).

In early September, the International Training Centre of the ILO (International Labour Organisation) in Turin hosted a global knowledge sharing forum on making the transition from the informal to the formal economy. This was attended by Ministers and senior government officials from 17 countries including Brazil, Egypt, Ghana, India, Mexico, Russia, Senegal, South Africa and Vietnam.

Professor Williams opened the five-day forum and led a panel which presented his experiences on formalising the informal economy in Europe including policy approaches that work and those that don’t. He said: “The intention of this forum was to allow countries to engage in a process of mutual learning. This topic is important when we realise that 60 per cent of workers globally are employed in the informal economy where they are unregistered and have no labour rights or entitlements, such as to holidays, minimum wages, and health and safety standards. Across the world, the issue of achieving ‘decent work’ is seen as a key issue for all governments, and the aim of the ILO is to disseminate best practice on how this can be achieved.”

Prof Williams’ critical work continues this month (September 2017) as he takes the Mutual Assistance Project to Latvia with the aim of improving the performance of their State Labour Inspectorate in dealing effectively with undeclared work.

This platform was launched in 2016 and provides a forum at EU level where enforcement authorities and social partners can learn from each other. The work programmes include seminars, staff exchanges and training, as well as the development of toolkits, studies and mutual assistance projects. Prof Williams said: “Officials in Latvia have taken this opportunity to be counselled in an area where they would like to see improvement. Romania are reporting great progress after a similar visit in November 2016, so we will be mirroring that approach which led to policy recommendations about how they could improve as well as strategic and operational guidance.

“The expert team ​visiting Latvia will focus on discussing areas where the ​​State Labour Inspectorate can benefit from the mutual learning process​, including strategic management​ practices; operational processes; evidence-based design and implementation of initiatives​; management of partnerships; and allocation of resources.”

Prof Williams is conducting a follow-up visit to Romania at the end of this month and will visit Latvia to evaluate its success in late 2018.

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