The Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO), Guy Ryder, has told delegates that they must assume the responsibilities of the ILO’s social justice mandate if the benefits of transformative change at work are to be realized.
“Inequality, marginalization and division are not phenomena to which the world of work must react but “the consequence of what we do, how we behave, what we decide,” he said in opening remarks to the 105th session of the International Labour Conference (ILC).
The Director-General noted that the world has entered an era where technology is generating innovate disruption of productive life. The debate amongst those who celebrate and those who dread such developments takes place against a background of inequality, marginalization, and division.
“If current trends towards and beyond already unacceptable levels of inequality are allowed to continue … ultimately all will be losers,” he insisted
“Introducing his report to the ILC, this year entitled The End to Poverty Initiative: The ILO and the 2030 Agenda, Ryder warned that, “The very wealth creating capacity that offers the prospect of consigning poverty to history also risks taking us further away from social justice rather than carrying us towards it,” he said.
The Director-General called upon delegates to have this broader context in mind as they went about their work in the coming fortnight.
Committees of workers, employers and government representatives will be considering how best to promote decent work in Global Supply Chains, and revising Recommendation 71‒the ILO instrument providing guidance for responding to crisis through employment and job creation.
According to ILO, decent work involves opportunities for work that is productive and delivers a fair income, security in the workplace and social protection for families, better prospects for personal development and social integration, freedom for people to express their concerns, organize and participate in the decisions that affect their lives and equality of opportunity and treatment for all women and men.
Another committee will evaluate the landmark 2008 ILO Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization, looking at how the Declaration has been promoted and implemented in the past and asking what more can be done to improve the application of the Declaration to meet decent work objectives in the future.
Ryder encouraged the continuing work on reviewing Labour Standards by the Committee on the Application of Standards, noting that “a strong, authoritative and relevant standards system is a precondition of an effective, influential ILO,” he said.
This Conference will also vote on approving proposed amendments to the Maritime Labour Convention 2006, to modify rules around Maritime Labour Certificates, and to provide guidance on shipboard bullying and harassment. Another vote will be to adopt proposed changes to modernize seafarers’ identity documents as referred to in Convention 185.
The first day of the Conference also saw Mildred Oliphant elected as president of the International Labour Conference over its duration from 30 May to 10 June. Oliphant has been the Minister of Labour of the Republic of South Africa since November 2010.
The Conference elected as Vice-Presidents, Ramón Alberto Morales Quijano (Governments) from Panama, Alberto Echavarría (Employers) from Colombia and Eric Manzi (Workers) from Rwanda.
The International Labour Conference (ILC) sets the broad policies of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and meets once a year in Geneva, Switzerland. The annual “world parliament of labour” brings together more than 5,000 governments, worker and employer delegates from the ILO’s 187 member States.