GENEVA (ILO News) – The Director-General of the International Labour Organization, Guy Ryder, warned of ‘heightened tension in the world’ as he addressed the opening of the 107th session of the International Labour Conference (ILC).
He urged delegates to show “the spirit of tripartism, compromise, and consensus,” which, he said, is a “precondition of success for the Conference and of the ILO.”
Ryder spoke of the growing challenge to international cooperation through multilateralism. Referring to “a new brutalism” in the world, he expressed his firm belief “that our Organization and our Conference must be a bulwark against such contagion, by its own conduct and by the results it achieves.”
In this environment, he said, the Conference discussion on social dialogue is timely and an opportunity to sharpen it as an instrument for dealing with the transformations taking place in the world of work.
On workplace violence and harassment, the Director-General called on delegates to open “the way for guarantees of workplaces entirely free of violence and harassment.”
Underscoring the need for action against all forms of violence and harassment at work, including sexual harassment – which has been brought into sharp focus by the 'Me Too' campaign – he encouraged delegates to produce results which will really make the difference: “Our answer to the ever more vocal call for action must be 'Us Too'”, he said.
During the Conference, a committee of workers, employers and government representatives will hold a first discussion on possible new standards to fight violence and harassment at work.
Looking ahead, Ryder announced a major report to be published by the Global Commission on the Future of Work early next year, adding that “the future of work also means the future of the ILO.”
Ryder also introduced his report on “The Women at Work Initiative: The push for Equality”, which calls for innovative action to close the persistent gender gap. His annual report on “The situation of workers of the occupied Arab territories”, had little positive to report on the labour situation but he pointed out the potential of ILO action bringing some improvement to the realities faced by working people there.
The ILC will discuss ILO development cooperation in the context of UN Reform. The Conference Committee on the Application of Standards will address the situation of labour rights in countries around the globe and discuss a general survey on standards related to working time, reflecting the experience of member States.
On 1 June, Juan Manuel Santos, President of Colombia and Nobel Peace Prize winner, will address the Conference.
On 7 June, a high-level World of Work Summit will discuss the role of jobs and decent work in securing peace and stability in countries emerging from crisis, conflict and disaster. The Prime Minister of Iraq, Haider al-Abadi, and the Presidents of the Central African Republic, Faustin-Archange Touadéra, and of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, will also address the Conference on the Summit day.
The first day of the Conference saw Samir Murad, Minister of Labour of Jordan, elected President of the Conference over its duration from 28 May to 8 June.
The Conference elected as Vice-Presidents Jean-Jacques Elmiger (Governments) from Switzerland, Khalifa Khamis Mattar (Employers) from the United Arab Emirates and Akiko Gono (Workers) from Japan.
The International Labour Conference sets the broad policies of the International Labour Organization and meets once a year in Geneva, Switzerland. The annual “world parliament of labour” brings together more than 5,000 government, worker and employer delegates from the ILO’s 187 member States.
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