GENEVA (ILO News) – The annual Conference of the International Labour Organization (ILO) concluded its 2010 session today with a strong call for placing employment and social protection at the centre of recovery policies. “We must get the right balance of policies to secure strong, sustainable and balanced growth,” said conference delegates.
Meeting in the run-up to the G20 leaders summit in Toronto, representatives of the “real economy” - government, employer and worker delegates from the ILO’s 183 member States - expressed broad concern that the global economic recovery remained “fragile and unevenly distributed, and many labour markets are yet to see jobs recovery match economic recovery.”
“It is urgent to adopt policies putting employment at the centre of economic policies” said Mr. Shigeru Nakajima, workers representative, Japan.
“Here at the ILO, we have reinforced this concept: the only real recovery is a recovery without social deficit” said ILO Director-General Juan Somavia in a message to the closing plenary of the Conference.
”Quality jobs at the heart of the recovery” was a key message from Pittsburgh last September. ”This remains more relevant than ever” said Mr. Somavia.
Delegates called for action to apply the ILO’s Global Jobs Pact. The Pact was adopted at a crisis summit held during last year’s International Labour Conference and received strong support during the G20 summit in Pittsburgh last September.
Speakers also backed Mr. Somavia’s call for a “balanced” policy strategy aimed at securing a “jobs-rich” economic recovery, and his warning that recent deficit reduction measures, mainly in social spending, could “directly affect jobs and salaries” at a time of weak economic recovery and continued high levels of unemployment. The employer representative from the United States, Ms. Ronnie Goldberg, called for “an effective employment policy to help ensure that growth translates into actual sustainable jobs”
The Conference reiterated its call to the ILO to place full and productive employment and decent work at the centre of economic and social policies to strengthen the social dimension of globalization. “It is urgent for the ILO to play its full role in the challenges posed by globalization”, said Mr. Gilles de Robien, France, President of the Conference.
Conference delegates called on the ILO to enhance its collaboration with the multi-lateral institutions, particularly the United Nations, the IMF and the World Bank, strengthening policy coherence across financial, economic, trade, employment, social and environmental policies.
The Conference took place against a backdrop of new concern over the continuing global jobs crisis, that has elevated global unemployment to more than 210 million, or its highest level ever recorded, according to the Director-General’s report “Recovery and Growth with Decent Work,”. Mr. Somavia noted that the ILO had seen no significant indications of a reduction in the global rate of unemployment this year, despite signs of an economic recovery.
Speakers from governments, employers and workers alike noted that the continuing lack of a jobs recovery placed a “terrible burden” on the unemployed, while at the same time hindered efforts to create “the right environment for enterprises to create employment.” Others cautioned again premature exit from stimulus packages, which “simply were going to make matters worse.”
“The message of this Conference is very clear - put jobs at the centre of the recovery. In terms of the G20 meeting in Toronto this means keeping the Leaders’ commitment, under the chairmanship of President Obama, in Pittsburgh to put quality jobs at the heart of the recovery” Mr. Somavia said.