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350th Session of the ILO Governing Body

ILO Governing Body closes with decisions on living wages, strengthening social justice

Living wages, the challenges and opportunities of digitization, and progress towards a new social contract, were among the wide range of world-of-work topics discussed by the ILO’s Governing Body at its 350th session.

News | 25 March 2024
GENEVA (ILO News) – The International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Governing Body concluded its 350th session, with a series of significant decisions relating to living wages and initiatives to strengthen social justice. They also reviewed several specific country cases.

Members reviewed the Report of the Meeting of Experts on wage policies, including living wages. The February 2024 report outlined the central role of decent wages in economic and social development and the advancement of social justice. It denotes that the concept of a living wage is, “the wage level that is necessary to afford a decent standard of living for workers and their families, taking into account the country circumstances and calculated for the work performed during the normal hours of work;” it is “calculated in accordance with the ILO’s principles of estimating the living wage,” and is “to be achieved through the wage-setting process in line with ILO principles on wage setting.”

The Governing Body’s decision to publish the meeting’s conclusions opens the way for new ILO work on the estimation and operationalization of living wages, technical assistance, awareness-raising and promotional activities related to living wages. Members requested the ILO’s Director-General, Gilbert F. Houngbo, to allocate sufficient resources and present an implementation report on the issue to its 355th session.

The meeting also discussed and approved arrangements for the Working Party on the New Social Contract for Our Common Agenda, which is being created to prepare inputs from the ILO’s tripartite membership to the Second World Summit for Social Development, in 2025.

Members requested the Director-General to make arrangements for the Working Party’s activities, including its first meeting, to be held before May 2024. The Governing Body also decided to add an item on tripartite input to the World Summit to the agenda of the 113th ILC, in 2025.

The Governing Body discussed the progress of the Global Coalition for Social Justice, the setup of which it endorsed at its last meeting, in November 2023. The Coalition brings together a unique group of partners – now numbering more than 200 – to foster multilateral cooperation and generate political commitment, social investments and concrete actions that support social justice and decent work. Delegates requested the Director-General to take into account the Governing Body’s guidance on the Coalition’s further development.

In a High-Level Section, members joined prominent experts from the private sector, academia and the multilateral system to discuss the work-related challenges and opportunities created by digitalization and artificial intelligence (AI). The day-long session looked at how these innovations could help to support and promote decent work, as well as the importance of ensuring a human-centred approach to the use of technology. In his closing remarks, the Director-General highlighted the ILO’s important role as a global thought leader on AI’s labour market impact, and best practices related to AI and digitalization in the world of work.

In reviewing the latest report on the ILO’s crisis-related work in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), the Governing Body reiterated its most profound concern at the dire and rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, the severe impact on the civilian population and the extremist settler violence in the West Bank. It stressed the importance of ensuring the access, safety, and security of ILO staff, to enable them to deliver on the ILO’s OPT mandate and asked the Office to report on the labour market access and dismissals of Palestinian workers. The Governing Body called on Member States to urgently fund the ILO’s emergency response programme and asked the Director-General to convene a resource mobilization meeting in June 2024. They also recommended that a special sitting be placed on the agenda of the 112th International Labour Conference (ILC), in June 2024.

In discussions on the situation in Myanmar, the Governing Body deplored, once again, the continued absence of progress towards respecting the will of the people, democratic institutions and processes, and called on the military authorities to end violence, arbitrary arrest, detentions and torture of trade unionists, labour activists and others, including the Rohingya. Members called for the removal of restrictions on ILO operations and for the full implementation of the recommendations of the ILO’s Commission of Inquiry (which reported in October 2023). In the absence of this, Members requested the Director-General to submit to their next session an assessment of further steps to secure compliance with the Commission’s recommendations.

Turning to Ukraine; the Governing Body reiterated its most profound concern at the continuing aggression by the Russian Federation, aided by the Belarusian Government, against Ukraine. It again urged the Russian Federation to immediately and unconditionally cease its aggression and withdraw its troops. Members requested the Director-General to expand efforts to mobilize resources for Ukraine and other affected countries.

Regarding Belarus itself, the Governing Body urged the Government to submit, by 15 April, all information on measures taken to implement the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry, published in 2004. Members once again urged the Government to receive as a matter of urgency an ILO tripartite mission, including a visit to independent trade union leaders and activists in prison or detention.

In line with the ILO's supervisory procedures, members examined several other country cases, including Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bangladesh, noting that these situations should continue to be kept under consideration.

The Governing Body also discussed democratization of the ILO's governance and the functioning of the Governing Body itself and asked for further proposals to be developed for its next meetings in June and November 2024.

Another debate considered an important report on ILO programme implementation 2022–23.

The Governing Body is the ILO's Executive Body and meets three times a year, in March, June and November, to take decisions related to ILO policy, programme and budget, and the agenda of the ILC. Its 350th Session was held at ILO's headquarters from 4 – 14 March. The next session will take place on 15 June 2024.