The chemical industry is of strategic importance to the sustainable development of national economies. Few figures are sufficient to show the scale of the industry. In 2009, world chemical sales were estimated at US$ 26 billion (€1,871 billion). Total sales from Asia, European Union countries and the countries belonging to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) accounted for 89.7 per cent of world turnover in terms of chemical sales.
The ILO estimates that there are up to 20 million people employed in the global chemical, pharmaceutical and rubber and tyre industries today. The ILO has noted the importance of this sector since the early stages of the Organization’s activities and has actively promoted social dialogue in the sector for many years and organizes numerous activities in the chemical industry. Among others, global tripartite sectoral meetings aim to facilitate the exchange of information among constituents on labour and social developments related to particular economic sectors, complemented by practical research on topical sectoral issues.
This objective has traditionally been pursued by holding international tripartite sectoral meetings to exchange ideas and experiences with a view to fostering a broader understanding of sector-specific issues and problems, promoting an international tripartite consensus on sectoral concerns and providing guidance for national and international policies and measures to deal with the related issues and problems, promoting harmonization of all ILO activities of a sectoral character, and acting as a focal point between the ILO and its constituents, and providing technical advice, practical assistance and concrete support to ILO constituents in their efforts to overcome problems in ensuring decent work throughout the sectors concerned.