ILO head warns of growing disconnect between people and politics

ILO head, Juan Somavia, warned of “a growing disconnect between people and politics, people and government”. These remarks were part of his address to young men and women who were attending the Opening of the Youth Employment Forum in Geneva.

Press release | 23 May 2012
GENEVA (ILO News) - Many people are saying “you are not taking my situation into account”, Mr Somavia said. “This is particularly true in the case of youth and young people” whose feeling is often: “OK, you talk about our issues but we’re not there, we’re not there in the process”, he said.

ILO Director-General Juan Somavia also warned of growing discontent over the way the global crisis has been handled in Europe, while hailing developing countries that followed a different track and increased social protection.

“This discontent is fuelling today a global reaction,” Somavia said.

“Many European countries stuck in an “austerity-led recession,” are looking at the crisis from a purely financial point of view, while the public is asking “what about us? We’re paying the cost for a crisis we had no responsibility whatsoever in producing”, he added.
Discontent is fuelling a global reaction”
J. Somavia

By contrast, many developing countries “came out of the crisis quicker and with different policies than the developed economies that are still mired in the crisis,” Mr Somavia said. Those countries, he said took care of their debt years ago and did not need to borrow from the IMF to confront the latest global economic crisis.

”They were able to put policies in place in which they increased minimum wages, they expanded social protection, they did a lot of things that would not have been possible” had they followed the same policies being applied in Europe.

Somavia hailed the young people at the Forum for “trying to change society for the better”; pointing out this is no easy task.

“Is it worth it? Is it moving forward? Are we really changing anything? Is this activism having effect? Let me tell you, the answer is yes, it is yes, yes, yes.”

The Youth Employment Forum ( brings together 100 young men and women involved in the promotion of decent work for youth, including entrepreneurs, unionists and activists from youth organizations.

A small delegation will stay on for the annual International Labour Conference where the youth employment crisis will feature prominently in discussions. More than 5,000 government, employer and worker delegates from the ILO’s 184 member states are scheduled to attend the Conference, which will be held from 30 May to 15 June.

Global youth unemployment remains stuck at peak crisis levels, with 75 million young people jobless.