BANGKOK (ILO News) The International Labour Organization (ILO) concluded its Twelfth Asian Regional Meeting today, adopting a series of wide-ranging Conclusions in which governments, and representatives of workers' and employers' organizations urged the ILO to "vigorously pursue" its opportunities to make an "essential contribution" to the economic and social development of Asia.
In final Conclusions adopted by consensus, some 200 delegates and advisers from 36 countries, including 25 ministers said: "The current financial crisis facing some countries in Asia has focused attention on problems of employment and poverty and has highlighted the importance of sound macroeconomic policies, good governance and transparency in financial markets.
"A strong ILO response is required to minimize the adverse effects of the crisis," the Conclusions stated. "Immediate steps should focus on training and redeployment of displaced workers and protection of women, migrants and other groups which may be especially adversely affected. Employment should be promoted through sound enterprise development strategies, investment in human resources and a business environment which is conducive to sustained enterprise competitiveness in a rapidly changing global economy."
In a closing address, Ms. Mitsuko Horiuchi, Deputy Secretary-General of the Conference and Assistant Director-General responsible for ILO activities in Asia and the Pacific, said: "Many speakers recalled the economic dynamism of the Asian region which would permit countries to find ways and means to revitalize their economies, but it is necessary to ensure that economic restructuring is aimed at employment-friendly growth. Such policies must target both the formal and informal sectors and respect the rights of workers, including women, young persons, migrant workers and others who are especially vulnerable."
The Conclusions also call for:
Organizing, as a matter of priority, an ILO regional tripartite meeting on economic and social responses to the financial crisis, including analysis of the impact on the quantity and quality of employment, and the means of tripartite influence, carried out in cooperation with major international financial institutions.
Including national anti-poverty strategies, established in consultation with the social partners, in overall economic policies.
Ensuring adequate remuneration and appropriate social protection when additional employment is generated.
Assisting entrepreneurs to meet the challenges of globalization and competition through encouraging productivity improvement and training programmes to enhance managerial effectiveness, as well as better access to technology, skills and infrastructure and stronger linkages between informal and formal sectors.
Policies to deal effectively with regulation of labour flows and protection of the rights of migrant workers.
Close monitoring of the labour market to identify emerging skill requirements nd assess education, training and retraining needs, with a focus on enhancing employability of workers taking account of industry and enterprise needs.
Governments and organizations of workers and employers to work together to develop education and training policies and improve all forms of vocational training.
Continuation of the campaign launched by the Director-General in 1995 for the ratification of the seven fundamental ILO Conventions, including encouraging governments, together with workers' and employers' organizations to consider further possibilities for ratification.
Promotion of the ratification and application of the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize Convention, 1948 (No. 87) and the Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949 (No. 98)
Strengthening of both workers' and employers' organizations so as to enable them to play fully their important and autonomous role together with governments and higher priority to ratification of the Tripartite Consultation (International Labour Standards) Convention 1976 (No. 144).
Steps by employers, in cooperation with workers and their organizations, to improve performance in relation to occupational safety and health, while governments should facilitate these efforts.
Efforts to develop and wherever possible extend mechanisms for basic social protection to those sectors of the workforce that are currently unprotected.
Appropriate action from countries to remove children from the most intolerable forms of child labour and introduce compulsory and universal basic education where this has not yet been done.
Effective ILO action to assist its constituents to formulate and implement policies for full, freely chosen and productive employment.
Renewed efforts to expand the ILO's technical cooperation programme in Asia, with full tripartite participation in the design, implementation and evaluation of projects.
Maintaining and intensifying ILO technical cooperation activities in favour of the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian social partners so as to improve the conditions of Palestinian workers and employers.
Continuation of active promotion of ratification and implementation of the Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention, 1958 (No. 111) and expansion of its efforts in education to combat discrimination.
Urgent action to assist ILO constituents in Asia in promoting the economic empowerment and social advancement of women.
Support for the work carried out by the ILO's International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour.
The Conclusions also stated that the decision of the ILO Governing Body to place on the agenda of the 1998 International Labour Conference an additional item relating to the consideration of a possible ILO Declaration of principles concerning fundamental rights and its appropriate follow-up should enable full discussion of this important issue.