For many commercial transactions, it is useful for UNHCR to sign a long-term agreement with a supplier, whether it is goods or services. These are known as “framework agreements” and we have signed them with a large number of companies for items used daily by UNHCR staff, including vehicles, radios, telecommunications equipment, generators and office equipment, as well as for assistance, including tents, blankets, bed mats and kitchen kits. The current framework agreement is the most recent development following the announcement by companies on 2 November 2020 of a 10-day exclusivity period to reach a possible binding agreement for the merger. Dominique Michel: The content of these agreements varies according to the different requirements and characteristics of the companies and trade unions concerned and according to the traditions of labour relations between the parties. They cover all four fundamental principles and workplace rights and refer specifically to the ILO`s core conventions. The other provisions, which differ from one agreement to another, deal with various topics covered by ILO standards, such as the protection of workers` representatives, wages, occupational health and safety and qualification. A framework agreement is not an interim agreement. It is more detailed than a statement of principle, but less than a full-fledged contract. Its aim is to find the fundamental compromises necessary to enable the parties to develop and conclude a comprehensive agreement that ends the conflict and creates lasting peace.  ILo Online: How many companies have signed these contracts so far? Dominique Michel: Most framework agreements include monitoring mechanisms involving the participation of trade unions.
These mechanisms include specific actions by management and workers` representatives, such as the dissemination (and, if necessary, translation) of the enterprise-wide agreement, or the development of joint training programmes. Some agreements provide for joint missions by the relevant national union and the World Trade Union Association to monitor the implementation of the agreement on the ground. Most of them also have mechanisms for the World Confederation of Trade Unions to deal with a case if the company violates the terms of the agreement. France Telecom is the youngest company to have signed an international framework agreement with a global trade union confederation. The comprehensive agreement, signed on 21 December 2006 between the French multinational Union Network International (UNI) and telecommunications unions around the world and employing more than 200,000 people worldwide, addresses compliance with ILO core standards across the group, including the right to join a trade union and bargain collectively and without discrimination or forced labour or child labour.