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102nd International Labour Conference

Ryder: We need to get a grip on the rapid changes affecting the world of work

The 102nd International Labour Conference opened with ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder, outlining his vision for tackling the various challenges that are having an impact on workers, enterprises and governments around the world.

News | 05 June 2013

GENEVA (ILO NEWS) – The world of work is being transformed more quickly and more deeply than ever before by rapid changes in demography and technology, growing inequality, poverty and the slow economic recovery, said Guy Ryder, Director-General of the International Labour Organization.

Speaking at the opening of the 102nd International Labour Conference, which takes place from 5 to 20 June in Geneva, Ryder said that these issues pose challenges for achieving the goal of decent work for all.

“The most important question, the one asked everywhere and with growing urgency and sometimes alarm, is ‘where are the jobs coming from?’ and it is most frequently a question addressed to the situation of our young people.”

Ryder outlined seven initiatives for a “forward-looking and strategic response” to the crisis, as he proposes in his report to the Conference, “Towards the ILO centenary: Realities, Renewal and Tripartite Commitment”.

A Governance Initiative, he said, would continue the process of reform within the ILO, which began last year. A standards review mechanism would update and enhance the relevance of the body of international labour standards – the ILO’s comprehensive system of instruments on work and social policy.

He also said that the ILO needs to engage more with enterprises.

“An organization which needs to connect better with the realities of business and respond better to business needs and realities, should be making efforts to engage with enterprises... Frankly, we come to this task very late. We should not delay further in setting about it,” he explained.

He also highlighted four other proposals relating to green jobs, poverty reduction, women at work and the future of work.

Regarding the Green Initiative, Ryder said that the ILO needs to be centre-stage in international efforts to assure the long-term future of the planet.

“Whether we like it or not, production and consumption systems are crucial determinants of environmental sustainability and the world of work is going to have to make unprecedented efforts to reconcile its future with that of the planet,” he stressed.

The ILO also needs to play the fullest role in putting an end to extreme poverty in the world by 2030, he said, and to “eliminate the danger that poverty anywhere constitutes to prosperity everywhere.”

A Women at Work Initiative would aim to correct the “persisting and profound disadvantage faced by many women in the world of work". This, he said, is a necessary and good social and economic policy.

Ryder also proposed that an advisory panel on the future of work be established, which would draw up a report for discussion at the Organization’s centenary Conference in 2019.

“Here at the ILO we have the mandate, we have the right actors and we are equipping ourselves with the means to make the world of work a better, more humane, kinder and fairer one in which all have a place and where all can have equal opportunity to realise their potential,” he added.

During the two-week conference, delegates attending the ILC will discuss a broad range of issues, including employment, growth and social progress; domestic child labour; the situation in Myanmar; employment and social protection in an ageing world; strengthening social dialogue between governments, employers and workers; and promoting decent and green jobs.

Tags: ILO Director General, International Labour Conference

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