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A Toolkit for Responsible Businesses
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International Framework Agreements (IFAs)

IFAs differ from company codes of conduct in that they are negotiated instruments between multinational enterprises and global union federations intended to ensure companies commit to respecting a number of core principles covering labor relations and working conditions.  IFAs vary but are based on ILO core labor standards, focusing in particular on two broad categories of standards: (a) fundamental principles and rights at work (freedom of association, collective bargaining, non-discrimination, abolition of forced labor, elimination of child labor) and minimum terms and conditions of employment (working time, wages, occupational safety and health); and (b) other conditions of work: mobility and related issues such as training, job security, subcontracting and restructuring. 

The first IFA was signed in 1988 by the French transnational food company BSN (renamed Danone in 1994) and the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF).  The parties agreed that the IFA would cover all global operations, which as of 2008 encompassed about 100,000 employees worldwide.  The initial agreement stated that both parties would promote coordinated initiatives on issues including job skills training, coordinating information across countries, ensuring gender equity and implementing trade union rights as defined in specific ILO conventions.  The scope of the IFA has since been expanded to cover additional issues.

Further Resources on IFAs:

  1. ILO. Cross-Border Social Dialogue and Agreements: An emerging global industrial relations framework? Geneva, 2008; available from
  2. ILO. International framework agreements and global social dialogue: parameters and prospects; Geneva, 2010; available from
  3. ILO-IOE. International framework agreements: an employers’ guide;  2007; available from


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