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For a Whistleblowing Right with International Protection

by Michel Dessaigne

In a globalized economy, our acts can have consequences internationally, and there is no national legislation, no matter how perfect, to cover them. Hence the need of a protected whistleblowing right on an international scale …

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The lessons of the world crisis have not been learned: stock-market speculation, excessive stipends paid out to big company leaders, distribution of bonuses. Drifting into chaos, crossing all the lines, blindly, when there are major environmental and health risks weighing on the future of the planet: decision makers will not be able to say they did not know. Between ignorance, unawareness, or taking risks knowingly, this is also a crisis of responsibility.

Company managers everywhere in the world are on the front line in situations of tension, of professional dilemmas, when they see things going out of control. When managers or professionals are summoned to do something that clashes with their personal or professional ethics, their values, where is their freedom of speech, their right of withdrawal or refusal, how much leeway do they have? Managers are often locked into silence because they are not protected.

Risk prevention requires collective bargaining

Risk prevention requires collective bargaining on whistleblowing procedures and how it is acknowledged and dealt with on the basis of existing rights and of the legitimacy of the staff’s representative bodies. The quality of how this issue is processed, the independence of those who do the processing is decisive for the effectiveness of the negotiated procedures, in the interest of society at large. This analysis, upheld by international union organizations, is also shared be many other players: NGOs, professional associations, whistleblower networks. In a globalized economy, our acts can have consequences internationally, and there is no national legislation, no matter how perfect, to cover them.

The work of UNI Global Union Managers/Professionals on the conditions for managers to exercise their social responsibility, and that of EUROCADRES on responsible management match the concerns of Transparency International, Amnesty International and many other players demanding recognition all over the world of a whistleblowing right as part of the basic rights stated by the ILO, and an international protection of whistleblowers as well.

Employees would certainly like to become players again, find some new perspectives, tomorrows that make sense, that light up the horizon, and to be given the conditions for exercising their professional responsibility with greater inclusion of economic and social purposes and of the stakes involved in sustainable development.

Read, too, the stories “Teaching Guide for Speaking out against Injustice” and "Whistleblowing and Professional Responsibility: Time to Converge?”

Published on: 13 January 2011
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