GENEVA (ILO News) – In the first ever visit of a German Chancellor to the International Labour Organization (ILO), H.E. Ms. Angela Merkel addressed the Organization’s annual conference.
Speaking to the historic 100th session of the International Labour Conference (ILC), Ms Merkel highlighted the increasing role played by the ILO in closer international cooperation. The G8 and G20 meetings would be “unthinkable without the wealth of experience of this Organization”, she said, adding that the ILO’s involvement was the only way “to give globalization a form, a structure”.
She called for the ILO and the ILC to show “passion and courage” in addressing new issues and “to belong to those organizations that make their mark on globalization”.
The Chancellor noted “the high degree of legitimacy and the binding character” of ILO standards. Through them the ILO was anchoring core labour standards, such as the prohibition of forced labour, child labour and discrimination and the promotion of freedom of association, in a globalized world.
The ILO’s Decent Work Agenda was an “instrument recognized worldwide” that needed further inputs, she said.
On the importance of international standard setting, Ms Merkel highlighted the new ILO Convention to protect domestic workers, calling it “a milestone on the way to fair and just employment in new areas”, that respected the personal dignity of all human beings.
Ms Merkel also highlighted the important role played by the ILO in promoting social stability in developing countries, particularly in the Arab world. Freedom and democracy in these countries would ultimately depend on the ability “to give young people who want to work a perspective”.
To achieve this and other goals, Germany and the ILO supported dialogue and partnership. The German social partnership and the ILO’s Global Jobs Pact, “a toolkit to contain unemployment and ensure social protection” stood as examples in this respect.
Germany’s experience with social partnership during the crisis had been good, and “Kurzarbeit” (work-sharing) had become an internationally-recognized term. Plans worked out “because enterprises believed in the future, government invested a lot of money, while workers and employers were ready to make sacrifices”.
However, to be accepted, social partnership had to be established before a crisis starts, she said. The lesson for the international community therefore was “to also invest in social partnership in times of economic recovery”.