GENEVA (ILO News) - The Governing Body of the International Labour Office (ILO) elected Lord Brett, United Kingdom, as Chairman for its 2002-2003 Session. The Governing Body also heard an appeal for the establishment of a Palestinian Fund for Employment and Social Protection for workers in the Occupied Arab Territories.
The 284 th session of the Governing Body also considered a range of other business including a report of the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association.
Lord Brett replaces Mr. Alain Ludovic Tou, Minister of Employment, Labour and Social Security, Burkina Faso, who served as Governing Body Chairman during the 2001-2002 Session. Lord Brett was the former Workers Vice-chairman of the Governing Body and has been a member of the General Council of the Trade Union Congress (TUC). He also sat on its Executive Committee until 1999. He was appointed a member of the House of Lords in the United Kingdom in June 1999.
H.E., Eui-Yong Chung, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea, was elected Government Vice-chairman. Daniel Funes de Rioja, President of the Social Policy Department of the Argentinian Industrial Union and Chairman of the Employers' Group of the Organization of American States from 1995 to 1998, was re-elected as Employer Vice-chairperson.
The three will serve as Officers of the Governing Body during its 2002-2003 Session. The Governing Body is the executive council of the ILO and meets three times annually in Geneva. It takes decisions on policy and establishes the programme and budget of the 175 member State Organization.
The Conference elected the new members of the Governing Body on 10 June. The period of office of the Governing Body is three years. Elections were held to select the 18 governments which have elective seats 1 and the 14 employer and 14 worker members of the Governing Body. Ten out of the total of 56 members of the Governing Body are appointed by member States of chief industrial importance holding permanent seats. 2
Palestinian Fund for Employment and Social Protection
The spokesperson of the workers' group, Leroy Trotman, urged the ILO to implement a technical cooperation program in the Occupied Arab Territories by establishing a Palestinian Fund for Employment and Social Protection. The proposal was supported by the employer and government representatives.
"The Workers Group believe that the ILO should actively contribute on issues of employment, social protection and social dialogue, in collaboration with the tripartite constituents and with other international organizations," the workers group said. They also urged the ILO to "enhance its medium-term programme of technical co-operation" in the territories and called on the Director-General to make use of financial surplus funds available for emergency activities.
The ILO currently has a range of technical assistance programmes in the Occupied Territories and is to begin immediately to expand efforts aimed stimulating employment by rebuilding infrastructure. Mr. Somavia said in closing remarks to the 90 th annual International Labour Conference the ILO would "endeavour to contribute to easing the humanitarian crisis in the occupied territories and the reconstruction of a social foundation for peace."
Freedom of Association
The Governing Body approved the 328 th report of the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association. At its May-June meeting, the Committee examined 23 cases. Altogether there are currently 95 cases before the Committee.
The Committee drew special attention to the cases in respect of Venezuela because the Government had refused to extend the mandate of the direct contacts mission which visited Venezuela in May 2002 to include cases before the Committee. The Committee deplored the Government's decision in this respect, which demonstrated a clear lack of cooperation in the special procedure for the examination of complaints concerning violations of freedom of association.
In the case of Cuba, the Committee recalled serious allegations of detention of trade unionists and non-registration of a trade union organization, the Single Council of Cuban Workers (CUTC), as well as intimidation and interference related to its activities. The Committee requested the Government to ensure that the CUTC could in the future operate freely in a climate absent of threats and intimidation and where the freedom of opinion and expression of workers' organizations independent of the official union structure were guaranteed.
The Committee noted with deep concern that the situation of violence in Colombia, which affects all sectors of society, showed no signs of improving and, on the contrary, continued to worsen from day to day. The Committee once again urged the Government to take the necessary steps to end what has become un intolerable situation of impunity and to punish those responsible. It underlined the need to achieve provable results in disbanding the paramilitary and other violent revolutionary groups.
The Governing Body also considered, under a separate agenda item, a progress report concerning the special technical cooperation programme for Colombia.
In the case of Guatemala submitted by the International Organization of Employers (IOE), the Committee strongly emphasised that employers' and workers' organizations should be consulted fully by the authorities on matters of mutual interest, including the preparation and application of legislation that affects their interest and the determination of minimum wages. Moreover, the Committee deplored the harassment and repression of employers which have resulted from a stoppage of activity in the business sector. It recalled that employers' and workers' organizations must be allowed to conduct their activities in a climate that is free from pressure, intimidation, harassment, threats or efforts to discredit them or their leaders.
1 Bahamas, Bulgaria, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Gabon, Indonesia, Republic of Korea, Libyan Arab Jamahirija, Lithuania, Mali, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sudan and Uruguay.
2 Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and the United States.