ILC Radio Round-up

Day 6: 50 for Freedom gears up to end forced labour

The panel symbolizing support for the 50 for Freedom campaign to end modern slavery continues to fill up with signatures and committees are getting closer to drafting final conclusions on world of work issues.

Audio | 08 June 2015
The second week of the International Labour Conference kicked off with committees discussing world of work issues and sitting into the wee hours in order to have final conclusions ready later this week.

Committees include the Application of Standards, Employment Creation, the Transition to the Formal Economy and Labour Protection.   

Elsewhere at the conference, the signature panel to galvanize support for the 50 for Freedom campaign to end modern slavery has been wheeled to the Des Pas Perdus hallway, a grand lobby in the Palais des Nations.

Last week, ILO Director-General Guy Ryder was the first to sign the panel, followed by high level guests, delegates, staff and visitors. Today, a group of children from a Geneva school added their signatures to what has become a very crowded board. The campaign officially begins this Friday.

The head of the ILO’s Special Action Programme to Combat Forced Labour, Beate Andrees, talked about how the campaign will work.

The campaign 50 for Freedom has the goal to reach 50 ratifications of the ILO’s Protocol on Forced Labour which was adopted by the International Labour Conference last year. The Protocol essentially calls on governments to adopt stronger measures to prevent all forms of forced labour, of human trafficking and of slavery affecting about 21 million men, women and children in the world today.

Andrees added why the Protocol will be a force for change:

Now 50 for Freedom not only calls on governments to ratify but it also wants to establish a broad movement of citizens of companies, of workers’ organizations, civil society organizations to support the struggle to end slavery.

It’s clearly a struggle that requires action to be taken by companies to better mitigate the risk of forced labour in their supply chains. It requires workers to better organize and strengthen the organization of vulnerable workers in the informal economy. And also, it requires each of us to make more conscious decisions when we purchase for instance our clothes or food.

Workers and employers groups have also urged support for the campaign. Sharan Burrows, the General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, stressed that the campaign was crucial to protect workers.

I cannot tell the ILO and the Director-General without extraordinary emotion how important this is. We commit to organize these workers. Of course we’ll organize for ratification, but we’ll organize the workers for whom this Protocol is so important.

Give them a voice, give them a face. Make sure that the human dignity of decent work is available for all workers around the world.

And Linda Kromjong, Secretary-General of the International Organization of Employers, called for employers to work together.

I think what is significant to the IOE is that we as employers recognize that this is an issue that we as employers need to tackle together, not only together amongst employers but also together with the global community here. Addressing the topic - actively naming it. Saying it’s still an issue. It’s not something that, you know, we already have solved in the world. I think that’s what’s going to make the difference.

Reporting for the ILO at the Palais des Nations, this is Carla Drysdale.