ILO take small steps on global whistleblower protection

Small steps towards true global whistleblower protection.


We have been participating in a week-long series of discussions during technical meeting, hosted by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), on the protection of whistleblowers in the public service sector, with a positive conclusion. Tripartite members of the meeting, including Eurocadres, have come to a conclusion on further actions to deliver meaningful whistleblower protection.

After intensive five-day negotiation taking place this week, the main output of the technical meeting is an agreement proposing more research on the issues facing whistleblowers, and the recognition of the need for greater whistleblower protection. The conclusions also include several references to the principles needed for effective implementation and promotion of good practice to deliver whistleblower protection.

While the meeting conclusions do not include any defined actions on, for example, the introduction of an ILO standard on whistleblower protection, crucially, these and other actions are not excluded.

Future actions in this area will be considered by the Governing Body of the ILO.

Small steps towards true global whistleblower protection

This decision comes following a long process. The ILO began action towards a global whistleblower protection in 2014, when the Workers’ group highlighted the need for such measures. After a recommendation from the Sectoral Advisory Bodies in 2017, the ILO published a study on the law and practice on the protection of whistleblowers in the public and financial service sectors.

The technical meeting contributes to the work of the ILO Governing Body, which is the executive body of the ILO. The Governing Body will negotiate and decide on the next steps to be taken on this topic.

Despite progress, more ambition on whistleblower protection is needed globally.

The principle understanding among the tripartite members is very clear: Whistleblowers are vital for a fair and prosperous society, and they should be protected. The measures to do so are also recognised widely. From protection against retaliation, to proper whistleblowing channels and supporting whistleblowers in multiple different manners.

However, the ambition to introduce global action from the ILO are seen by some as being more controversial. While the worker’s representatives have repeatedly pushed for an ambitious ILO Standard, continuing this momentum will be necessary to provide a comprehensive framework to protect whistleblowers all around the world.

The final and official conclusions of the technical meeting are available in the ILOs website.

Eurocadres will continue to play a prominent role in the protection of whistleblowers at a national, European and international level, beyond the publication of the ILO’s conclusions.