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GB roundup

ILO Governing Body concludes 337th session

The ILO Governing Body ended its 337th session on 7 November 2019. ILO News discussed the highlights of the session with Juan Llobera, Clerk of the Governing Body.

Press release | 08 November 2019

ILO News: What was the outcome of the ILO Programme and Budget proposals for 2020-21?

Following the adoption by the International Labour Conference (ILC) last June of the budget for the next financial exercise, the Governing Body approved the programme of work and results framework for 2020-21 around eight policy outcomes, with special emphasis on overarching strategies on research, statistics and capacity development. This programme of work is the first step in the implementation of the vision and priorities identified in the Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work that was also adopted by the Conference in June.

ILO News: Where there any other issues arising from the 2019 ILC?

Quite a few, in fact.

Decisions were made on the follow-up to two important aspects of the ILO Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work. Firstly, the GB approved a procedural roadmap to consider proposals for the inclusion of safe and healthy working conditions in the ILO’s framework of fundamental principles and rights at work. The second one was the appointment of a working group to examine measures “to democratize ILO governance by ensuring a fair representation of all regions and establishing the principle of equality among member States”, as called for in the Declaration.

Members also followed up on the new international labour instruments to eliminate violence and harassment in the world of work, which were adopted at the 2019 ILC. They requested the Director-General to put in place a strategy to promote and implement the principles and rights embodied in the new standards.

ILO News: Was there an update on the proposed integrated strategy to address decent work deficits in the tobacco sector?

One of the major achievements of the Governing Body was indeed the finalization and approval of a costed and time-bound strategy to continue providing assistance in tobacco-growing countries, funded by voluntary contributions from multi- and bilateral aid for development cooperation and ILO resources. The GB directed the Office to implement it, working in close cooperation with governments and social partners.

ILO News: What was the outcome of GB discussions on Venezuela, Guatemala, Myanmar and Qatar?

Members took note of the report of the Commission of Inquiry set up in 2018 to examine a complaint on the non-observance by Venezuela of ILO conventions, including Freedom of Association and the Right to Organize. The Commission finalized its report in September following a visit to the country. The matter will be reviewed in March 2020 once the Government of Venezuela has responded to the conclusions and recommendations contained in the report; it has until end of December to provide its response.

On Guatemala, Governing Body members took note of the report sent by the government on actions taken in relation to the implementation of the 2017 National Tripartite Agreement for the implementation of a roadmap on freedom of association. This relates to a complaint made to the 2012 ILC on the non-observance of ILO Convention on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise. The government is due to report again to the Governing Body in October 2020.

On Myanmar, the Governing Body acknowledged progress made by the government, including on child labour, labour legislation reform and the ILO Decent Work Country Programme. At the same time, it urged the government to continue working with the ILO and the social partners, in particular to establish a credible and effective national complaints mechanism for labour rights abuses. The government’s next report is due in March 2020.

The technical cooperation programme between the Government of Qatar and the ILO was also reviewed. The programme covers the payment of wages, labour inspection, occupational safety and health systems, recruitment and employment contract systems, forced labour and the promotion of workers’ voice.

ILO News: Can you tell us briefly about some of the other items on the agenda?

The members decided that the agenda of the 109th Session of the ILC (2020) should include a general discussion on skills and lifelong learning. They also requested the ILO to initiate work on proposals for possible standard-setting items on biological hazards, ergonomics and manual handling, chemical hazards and guarding of machinery, for future consideration by the GB and the ILC.

In reviewing the implementation of the ILO’s enhanced programme of development cooperation in the occupied Arab Territories, the Governing Body took note of the deteriorating labour and employment situation in the territories, particularly in Gaza, and it called for expanded and strengthened partnerships and resources for the promotion of decent work for Palestinian women and men.

The Governing Body also adopted the reports of the Committee on Freedom of Association, (337th session) as usual.