GENEVA (ILO News) – The President of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, has called for a global coalition to tackle youth employment in an address to a special session of the 100th International Labour Conference (ILC) in Geneva.
The President called on delegates to work together to prevent increasing unemployment among young people, saying this would be critical to creating a new era of social justice.
Globally, 81 million out of 620 million economically active 15 to 24 year olds were unemployed in 2009 – the highest number recorded in the last 18 years, the President said: “With nearly half of the world’s population under the age of 25, young people can make an important contribution to global prosperity.... We must invest more in sectors that generate jobs for youth,” he added, concluding “let us join hands to make this a new era of social justice.”
President Yudhoyono also told delegates that Indonesia was one of the countries least affected by the global economic crisis. Central to their successful response was the decision to synchronize policies and actions between central and local government, the private sector and labour unions. “The lesson was that the Government, corporate world and the workers worked together to minimise unemployment,” he said. He also praised the International Labour Organization (ILO) for its work, notably in helping to forge this constructive consensus.
The President outlined a range of measures to counteract the effects of the crisis and improve global employment, centring around policies that are pro-growth, pro-job, pro-poor, and pro-environment.. These include support for business and entrepreneurship – particularly among young people – the promotion of social protection and benefits like education and housing, opportunities for workers to take part in decision-making, and better international co-operation to ensure that the benefits of globalization are shared equitably. He also called on countries to implement the ILO conventions that they had ratified, pointing out that implementation of the eight fundamental conventions was a requisite for workers to enjoy social justice.
President Yudhoyono highlighted the need for special recognition of the contribution made by the millions of migrant workers worldwide, and their needs and rights. In particular, he called on ILC delegates to support a new draft convention on Decent Work for Domestic Workers that is due to be voted on later this week.
President Yudhoyono’s visit to the ILC, on Tuesday 14 June, marked the first time that an Indonesian President had addressed the Conference. Welcoming him to the ILC, the Director-General of the ILO, Mr Juan Somavia, noted that Indonesia had been the first Asian country to ratify all eight of the ILO’s fundamental conventions governing core labour standards, and had also launched its own Indonesian Jobs Pact. “You are at the forefront of a global crisis response...to address the concrete demands of people and the needs of the real economy. As the cries for democracy and freedom, jobs and social justice echo around the world today, your voice and your action... is very present in the minds of all of us,” Mr Somavia said.
The ILC, which is the annual meeting of the ILO, is being attended by more than 4,400 delegates representing Governments, Workers and Employers from the ILO’s 183 member States. The Conference, which runs from 1-17 June, is being held at the United Nations Office at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.
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