88th Session of the International Labour Conference
Geneva 30 May - 15 June 2000
Table of contents
The 88th Session of the International Labour Conference will be held in Geneva from Tuesday, 30 May to Thursday, 15 June 2000.(1)
The proceedings of the Conference will take place in the Palais des Nations and in the headquarters of the International Labour Office (ILO). The opening sitting will be held in the Assembly Hall of the Palais des Nations and will begin at 10.30 a.m. sharp on Tuesday, 30 May.
Government, Employer and Worker members of the Conference will hold preliminary meetings of their respective groups on Monday, 29 May.
The committees will begin their work on Tuesday, 30 May in the afternoon or on Wednesday, 31 May in the morning, as the case may be.
The agenda of this session is as follows:
Items placed on the agenda by the Conference
or the Governing Body
Action recommended by the Governing Body under article 33 of the Constitution — Implementation of the recommendations contained in the report of the Commission of Inquiry entitled Forced Labour in Myanmar (Burma).
I.(a) Reports of the Chairman of the Governing Body
and of the Director-General
The discussion of these documents in plenary sitting will begin on Monday, 5 June.
The Chairman of the Governing Body will submit to the Conference a report on the work carried out by the Governing Body during the preceding year.
The Conference will also have before it a report of the Director-General of the International Labour Office which, in accordance with paragraph 2 of article 12 of the Conference Standing Orders, will concern programme implementation and the activities of the Organization in 1998-1999.
It is worth recalling in connection with the discussion of these reports that the Working Party of the Governing Body of the International Labour Office on the Programme and Structure of the ILO formulated a number of principles, in respect of which it expressed the wish that attention should be drawn to them in this memorandum. These principles, which are set forth in paragraphs 54 to 58 of the Fourth Report of the Working Party, are as follows:
54. Freedom of speech is the life-blood of the International Labour Organization. The Declaration of Philadelphia proclaims the principle that "freedom of expression and of association are essential to sustained progress"; it thereby treats freedom of speech as the corollary of freedom of association in the context of the fundamental principles on which the International Labour Organization is based. There is no immunity from criticism for anyone — a government, an employer or a worker in the ILO.
55. Freedom of speech includes freedom to reply; he who criticizes must expect those criticized to defend their views and conduct and must be prepared to accept similar criticism of his own views and conduct.
56.The fundamental purposes of the ILO, as defined in the Constitution and the Declaration of Philadelphia, embrace so wide a range, including social justice as a contribution to lasting peace and the right of all human beings, irrespective of race, creed or sex, to pursue both their material well-being and their spiritual development in conditions of freedom and dignity, of economic security and equal opportunity, that the limits of debate in the International Labour Conference can never be narrowly circumscribed. The ILO has a continuing responsibility to focus attention on these objectives and criteria of policy irrespective of political considerations.
57. There is nevertheless an essential distinction to be made between the purpose and proper scope of such debate in the International Labour Conference and the discussion of political matters in such organs of the United Nations as the Security Council and the General Assembly, which are entrusted by the Charter with responsibility for political decisions in the United Nations system.
58. In periods of acute political tension the ILO has a twofold responsibility to uphold the values of human freedom and dignity enshrined in its Constitution, and to circumscribe rather than extend the area of international tension by ensuring the fullest possible degree of continued cooperation in pursuit of the objectives of the ILO. Every delegate to the International Labour Conference therefore has an obligation to the Conference to keep these considerations constantly in mind, and the President has an obligation to ensure that the Conference does not lose sight of them.
Time-limit for speeches
So as to enable as many speakers as possible to take the floor, the Conference will have before it a unanimous recommendation by the Governing Body to set the time-limit for speeches to a maximum of five minutes.
Visiting ministers, delegates, observers and representatives of international organizations will certainly wish to bear it in mind when preparing their speeches, to avoid running the risk of being asked to resume their seats before they have concluded.
I.(b) Global report under the Follow-up to the ILO
Declaration on Fundamental Principles
and Rights at Work
The Follow-up to the Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, adopted by the International Labour Conference at its 86th Session (1998), calls on the Director-General to draw up a report to provide a dynamic global picture relating to each of the four categories of fundamental principles and rights in turn. The Governing Body has decided that the first global report will be on freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining.
The global report, drawn up under the responsibility of the Director-General, will portray worldwide trends in relation to the chosen category of principles and rights, for both States that have and those that have not yet ratified the relevant fundamental ILO Conventions. The report is to serve as a basis for (a) an assessment of the effectiveness of the assistance provided by the Organization and (b) a subsequent determination by the Governing Body of priorities and plans of action for technical cooperation for the next four-year period.
The Follow-up to the Declaration foresees a discussion of this report undertaken separately from reports under article 12 of the Conference Standing Orders.
In this respect, the Governing Body decided to invite the Conference to adopt ad hoc arrangements for the discussion of the first global report: referring to the procedure provided for in article 76 of the Standing Orders, the Governing Body has invited the Conference to suspend the application of article 12, paragraph 3 (concerning the number of statements by each speaker in plenary) and article 14, paragraph 6 (on the time-limit for speeches).
The Governing Body has recommended that two plenary sittings on the same day should be convened for this purpose, with the possibility of extending the sitting or convening a further sitting, if necessary, on the same day or on a different day.
The Officers of the Conference would make special arrangements for the organization of the work.
The proposals made by the Governing Body foresee dividing the time available into three phases: a first phase devoted to opening statements by the spokespersons of the Employers and Workers and, if appropriate, by other delegates; a second phase for statements by individual delegates; and a third phase to allow spokespersons from the groups and other delegates to make their concluding remarks in the discussion.
The speaking time would be set, subject to adjustments decided by the Officers of the Conference, at ten minutes for speeches by group spokespersons and at five minutes for delegates’ speeches.
Programme and budget and
The Conference will be called upon to examine information concerning such administrative matters as the Governing Body may decide to bring to its attention, including matters related to the Organization’s programme and budget.
In addition, the Governing Body has recommended that the Conference consider the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties between States and International Organizations or between International Organizations with a view to the deposit of an act of formal confirmation by the ILO.
III. Information and reports on the application
of Conventions and Recommendations
In pursuance of articles 19 and 22 of the ILO Constitution, governments are required to communicate information and reports to the Director-General on the measures taken to bring the Conventions and Recommendations adopted by the Conference before the competent national authorities, and to give effect to the Conventions which they have ratified, as well as on the position of their countries with regard to the subject-matter of Conventions which they have not ratified and of Recommendations. Under articles 22 and 35, governments which have not ratified Conventions shall supply the Director-General with information and reports concerning the application of such Conventions in non-metropolitan territories. Article 23 of the Constitution provides that the Director-General shall submit a summary of the above-mentioned information and reports to the Conference.
The Conference will consider information and reports supplied by governments in pursuance of the above-mentioned articles of the Constitution together with the report of the Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations. At the 88th Session the reports submitted in pursuance of article 19 of the Constitution will deal with the Tripartite Consultation (International Labour Standards) Convention, 1976 (No. 144) and the Tripartite Consultation (Activities of the International Labour Organisation) Recommendation, 1976 (No. 152).
IV. Revision of Maternity Protection Convention
(Revised), 1952 (No. 103), and Recommendation,
1952 (No. 95) (second discussion)
The first discussion of this subject took place at the 87th Session of the Conference, following which, by a resolution adopted on 15 June 1999, the Conference decided that an item entitled "Revision of the Maternity Protection Convention (Revised), 1952 (No. 103), and Recommendation, 1952 (No. 95)" should be included in the agenda of the 88th Session for a second discussion with a view to the adoption of a Convention and a Recommendation.
To give effect to that decision, and in accordance with article 39, paragraph 6, of the Standing Orders of the Conference, the Office has communicated to governments the text of a proposed Convention and Recommendation on this subject, asking them to state, after consulting the most representative employers’ and workers’ organizations, whether they have any amendments to suggest or comments to make (Report IV (1), International Labour Conference, 88th Session, 2000). The final report will be published in two volumes: Report IV (2A) will include summaries of replies received and Office commentaries and Report IV (2B) will contain the proposed Convention and Recommendation to be submitted to the 88th Session to serve as a basis for discussion.
V. Human resources training and development:
Vocational guidance and vocational training
The Human Resources Development Recommendation (No. 150) is generally acknowledged to have been overtaken by economic and social developments since it was adopted in 1975. Reflecting the economic planning paradigm of that period, it leaves little scope for demand and labour market considerations in training, makes limited reference to the role and responsibilities of "stakeholders" other than the government in human resources development, and offers no guidance on many issues that are central to training policy and system reforms currently being undertaken by member States.
Consequently, at its 271st Session (March 1998), the Governing Body agreed to include on the agenda of the 88th Session (2000) of the Conference a general discussion item on human resources training and development. The general discussion is expected to guide the Office regarding possible future standard-setting activities in this area.
A report on the subject (Training for employment, productivity and social inclusion, Report V, International Labour Conference, 88th Session, 2000) will serve as a basis for the general discussion. First, it will examine far-reaching changes in the world of work in the context of globalization and enterprise restructuring and their implications for the demand for new skills and competencies. Secondly, it will review efforts by the social partners in member countries to reform training policies, systems and programmes so that they can respond effectively to emerging needs and opportunities and promote the inclusion of young people and vulnerable groups into the mainstream of economic and social life. Thirdly, the report will discuss partnerships and the respective roles and responsibilities of the State, the social partners and other actors in human resources development and training.
Agriculture is considered to be one of the most hazardous sectors in the world, next to mining and the construction industry. However, it is in the agricultural sector that the highest rates of fatal accidents are recorded, both in developing and industrialized countries. This is compounded by the whole range of diseases and injuries related to agricultural tasks which, despite their frequency, are not always diagnosed and notified. In most countries only some categories of agricultural workers are covered by national legislation. A large number of agricultural workers, who together represent almost half of the world’s economically active population, are thus deprived of any form of social protection.
Although agricultural workers are protected by the Plantations Convention, 1958 (No. 110) and agriculture is generally covered by the Occupational Safety and Health Convention, 1981 (No. 155), there is no comprehensive international standard dealing with the problems of safety and health in agriculture. The Governing Body therefore decided, at its 271st Session (March 1998), to place an item on this subject on the agenda of the 88th Session (2000) of the International Labour Conference. This item will be addressed under the double-discussion procedure foreseen in article 39 of the Standing Orders of the Conference.
The Office has prepared two reports to serve as a basis for the first discussion. The preliminary report (Safety and health in agriculture, Report VI (1), International Labour Conference, 88th Session, 2000) was accompanied by a questionnaire to which governments were asked to reply, stating reasons in each case. These replies have been summarized in the second report (VI (2)), which also indicates the main points that the Conference may wish to consider.
Withdrawal of Conventions Nos. 31, 46,
51, 61 and 66
In accordance with article 45bis of its Standing Orders, adopted in June 1997, the Conference may now withdraw obsolete Conventions which are not in force. The Governing Body decided at its 271st Session (March 1998) to place on the agenda of the 88th Session of the Conference an item concerning the withdrawal of five Conventions which have not come into force and which, in its view, have lost their purpose and no longer make a useful contribution to attaining the Organization’s objectives. The Conference is thus called upon to decide on the withdrawal of the following Conventions: the Hours of Work (Coal Mines) Convention, 1931 (No. 31); the Hours of Work (Coal Mines) Convention (Revised), 1935 (No. 46); the Reduction of Hours of Work (Public Works) Convention, 1936 (No. 51); the Reduction of Hours of Work (Textiles) Convention, 1937 (No. 61); and the Migration for Employment Convention, 1939 (No. 66).
Two reports on the withdrawal of these instruments have been prepared by the Office. Report VII (1), International Labour Conference, 88th Session (2000) contains a questionnaire to which governments were asked to reply, stating reasons in each case. These replies are summarized in the second report (VII (2)), which contains the final proposal submitted to the Conference on the subject.
Pursuant to paragraph 3 of article 45bis mentioned above, it is for the Conference to decide either to examine this report and the proposal it contains directly in plenary sitting or to refer it to its Selection Committee.
At its 276th Session (November 1999) the Governing Body considered placing the following item on the agenda of the 88th Session of the Conference: "Action recommended by the Governing Body under article 33 of the Constitution — Implementation of the recommendations contained in the report of the Commission of Inquiry entitled Forced Labour in Myanmar (Burma)".
In accordance with article 10 (1) of its Standing Orders, as the inclusion of this item on the Conference’s agenda was not approved unanimously by the members present when it was considered for the first time, the Governing Body will take a decision on the matter at its 277th Session in March 2000.
If the Governing Body decides at its 277th Session to include the above-mentioned question, it will become the eighth item on the Conference’s agenda. A report prepared by the Office will serve as a basis for the discussion. This report will contain in particular a summary of the discussions in the Governing Body, as well as possible recommendations by the Governing Body to the Conference regarding action it deems wise and expedient to secure compliance with the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry established to examine the complaint, made under article 26 of the Constitution, alleging non-observance of the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29).
In accordance with article 4 of the Conference Standing Orders, it is for the Selection Committee to recommend to the Conference an appropriate procedure for dealing with this matter.
Since the 2000 Session does not precede the beginning of a biennial financial period, resolutions which are not related to items IV, V, VI or VII(2) on its agenda may be submitted to the Conference, in accordance with paragraph I (1) of article 17 of the Conference Standing Orders.
The text of such resolutions should be submitted to the Director-General of the International Labour Office by a delegate duly accredited to the Conference at least 15 days before the opening of the session, that is by Monday, 15 May 2000 at the latest.
Communication of documents prepared
for the Conference
Every effort will be made to ensure that the
documents submitted to the Conference are communicated to member States well
in advance of the opening of the session. As soon as the documents become available,
they will also be placed on the ILO’s website at the following address:
The smooth functioning of the Conference depends on the delegates having the opportunity to study beforehand the documents prepared by the International Labour Office on which the discussions are based. The attention of governments is therefore drawn to the importance of ensuring that the reports sent to them on the various items on the agenda are distributed in good time to Government delegates, as well as to those representing employers and workers.
During the session the proceedings of the Conference will be published in Provisional Records in English, French and Spanish. These Provisional Records may also be consulted on the ILO’s website.
Article 3, paragraph 1, of the Constitution of the ILO provides that each delegation to a session of the International Labour Conference shall be composed of four delegates, namely two Government delegates, one delegate representing the employers and one delegate representing the workers.
In accordance with the provisions of article 3, paragraph 2, of the Constitution, each delegate may be accompanied by not more than two advisers for each separate item placed on the agenda. Items IV, V, VI and VII are separate items on the agenda of the session. In addition, the item "Information and reports of the application of Conventions and Recommendations" is considered as a separate item within the meaning of the above-mentioned provision of the Constitution, that is to say with a view to the appointment of advisers. In these circumstances each Government, Employers’ and Workers’ delegate to the 88th Session may be accompanied by not more than ten advisers.(3)
Governments are requested, when composing their delegations, to give consideration to the importance of making arrangements for representation at the plenary sittings when such sittings are held simultaneously with the sittings of committees.
Article 3, paragraph 5, of the Constitution provides that:
The Members undertake to nominate non-Government delegates and advisers chosen in agreement with the industrial organisations, if such organisations exist, which are most representative of employers or workpeople, as the case may be, in their respective countries.
In connection with this provision, the Credentials Committee at the 46th Session (1962) of the Conference, having before it cases where several representative organizations existed in one and the same country, made the following statement in this regard:
This article requires: (a) that there shall be consultations; (b) that these consultations shall be entered into with the most representative organizations of employers and workpeople, in the country in question, provided such organizations exist; and (c) that the delegates finally appointed should be chosen in agreement with the said organizations.
Certainly, agreement cannot always be reached. But genuine consultations undertaken in good faith are essential. In Advisory Opinion No. 1 of the Permanent Court of International Justice — which relates particularly to countries where there are several representative organizations ... it is stated in particular with regard to the obligation laid down in paragraph 5 of article 3 of the Constitution, that —
The engagement ... is not a mere moral obligation. It is a part of the Treaty and constitutes an obligation by which the Parties to the Treaty are bound to one another.
The obligation is that the persons nominated should have been chosen in agreement with the organisations most representative of employers or workpeople, as the case may be. There is no definition of the word "representative" in the Treaty. The most representative organisations for this purpose are, of course, those organisations which best represent the employers and the workers respectively. What these organisations are, is a question to be decided in the particular case, having regard to the circumstances in each particular country at the time when the choice fails to be made. Numbers are not the only test of the representative character of the organisations, but they are an important factor; other things being equal, the most numerous will be the most representative. The article throws upon the Government of the State the duty of deciding, on the data at its disposal, what organisations are, in point of fact, the most representative ...
The only object of the intervention of industrial organisations, in connection with the selection of delegates and technical advisers, is to ensure, as far as possible, that the Government should nominate persons whose opinions are in harmony with the opinions of employers and workers respectively. If, therefore, in a particular country there exist several industrial organisations representing the working classes, the Government must take all of them into consideration when it is proceeding to the nomination of the Workers’ delegate and his technical advisers. Only by acting in this way can the Government succeed in choosing persons who, having regard to the particular circumstances, will be able to represent at the Conference the views of the working classes concerned ...
The aim of each Government must, of course, be an agreement with all the most representative organisations of employers and workers, as the case may be; that, however, is only an ideal which is extremely difficult to attain ...
What is required of the Governments is that they should do their best to effect an agreement, which, in the circumstances, may be regarded as the best for the purpose of ensuring the representation of the workers of the country.(4)
The Credentials Committee feels bound to appeal very strongly ... to all the Governments of the States Members of the Organization to conform strictly to the Constitution when appointing non-Government delegates to the International Labour Conference. Arbitrary choice of such delegates by the Governments from lists submitted by organizations of greatly varying sizes, without any effort at genuine consultation to reach an agreement with the most representative organizations, constitutes an abuse which, if it is not remedied, could lead the International Labour Conference into a situation which would be dangerous for the entire Organization ...
Furthermore, to ensure an equal representation of employers and workers on the committees of the Conference it is desirable that, so far as possible, equal numbers of Employers’ and Workers’ advisers should be appointed in each delegation.
The Credentials Committee at the 61st Session (1976) of the Conference drew attention to the imbalance which in certain cases existed between the number of advisers to the delegates of each group. It once again urged governments to take greater account, when nominating delegations, of the proportions in the composition of the Conference envisaged by paragraphs 1 and 2 of article 3 of the Constitution.
Governments will no doubt wish to ensure that the delegations attending the Conference are appointed in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, that they comprise four delegates and that they are fully tripartite. In this connection, the resolution concerning the strengthening of tripartism in the overall activities of the International Labour Organization which was adopted by the Conference at its 56th Session (1971) requests that member States be reminded that "they are obliged to send tripartite delegations whose members are able to act in full independence of one another", and that they be asked "when communicating the credentials of members of the delegations representing employers and workers, to state for the information of the Credentials Committee which employers’ and workers’ organizations were consulted and also to confirm that the travelling and living expenses of such delegates and their advisers are in fact being borne by the member State, in accordance with the terms of the Constitution".
As a result of a request made by the Credentials Committee to the Conference at its 79th Session (1992), governments are asked in the form attached for credentials to provide such confirmation or to state the difficulties which prevent them from wholly or partially covering the expenses referred to.
The attention of governments is drawn to paragraphs 9, 10 and 11 of article 26 of the Conference Standing Orders which empower the Credentials Committee to consider complaints alleging non-compliance with the obligation of governments under article 13, paragraph 2 (a), of the Constitution to cover such expenses.
The ILO Constitution provides in article 3, paragraph 2, that when questions specially affecting women are to be considered by the Conference, at least one of the advisers should be a woman. In addition, it is nowadays generally recognized that all questions discussed at the Conference are of equal concern to women and men. In view of the low proportion of women on national delegations over the years, the Conference has adopted several resolutions urging those concerned to find a solution to this problem.
Consequently, as early as 1975, at its 60th Session, the Conference asked in a resolution that women be appointed to delegations on the same basis and by the same standards as men. At its 67th Session (1981) it adopted another resolution, urging that efforts be made in all member States to include women in national delegations among both Government and non-Government delegates and advisers. Subsequently, in a resolution concerning ILO action for women workers, adopted at its 78th Session (1991), the Conference called upon governments, and workers’ and employers’ organizations to include more women in their delegations to the International Labour Conference.
It is absolutely essential that, as laid down in article 26, paragraph 1, of the Standing Orders of the Conference, the credentials of delegates to the Conference and their advisers are deposited with the International Labour Office at least 15 days before the date fixed for the opening of the session of the Conference. As the Conference will open on 30 May 2000, the last date for the deposit of the credentials is Monday, 15 May 2000.
In recent years, a number of delegations have not observed the deadline for the deposit of credentials, with the result that it has become extremely difficult to deliver delegates’ admission badges in time for the opening of the Conference, to seat delegations in the Assembly Hall of the Palais des Nations and to finalize the lists of committee members. As some 3,000 persons take part in the work of the Conference, it is of the utmost importance that governments comply with the above-mentioned deadline in depositing the credentials of all delegates and advisers. This would not only ensure the smooth running of the Conference but would also be in the interest of the delegations themselves.
Two kinds of form are enclosed with the letter of convocation: the form for credentials which governments are requested to return to the ILO within the required deadline and the registration form for participants. Governments are requested to send a copy of the registration form to each of the delegates and advisers appointed by them so that they may return them immediately to the ILO duly completed and signed.
Finally, it should be pointed out that since the premises of the Conference are accessible to disabled persons there is no physical barrier to their nomination as delegates or advisers. The Official Relations Branch of the International Labour Office may be contacted for additional information.
The International Labour Office does not have a hotel reservation service. It is therefore suggested that delegations to the Conference request the diplomatic representations of member States in Geneva or, where applicable, in Berne to make the necessary reservations with hotels in the Geneva area as early as possible. Reservations may also be made through the:
Office du Tourisme de Genève
18, rue du Mont Blanc
P.O. Box 1602
CH-1211 Genève 1
Telephone: (41.22) 909.70.00
Facsimile: (41.22) 909.70.11
It is highly advisable to reserve hotel accommodation well in advance.
Entry visas for Switzerland are issued primarily by Swiss diplomatic representations abroad. Delegates to the Conference who require an entry visa should submit a personal request to the Swiss embassy or consulate in their country of residence. Delegates may wish to note that visas are issued upon arrival at the airport in Geneva only in exceptional circumstances.
The French consulate in Geneva is not authorized to issue entry visas for France to temporary visitors to Switzerland without first referring the application to the French embassy or consulate in the applicant’s home country. Consequently, members of the delegations wishing to visit or stay in France during the session of the Conference should obtain the necessary single- or multiple-entry visas for France in their own country before leaving for Switzerland.
1. At its meeting in June 1999, the Officers of the Governing Body decided to bring forward the date of the 88th Session of the International Labour Conference, due to the Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly on the Implementation of the Outcome of the World Summit for Social Development and Further Initiatives, which will be held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva, from 26 to 30 June 2000.
2. If the item mentioned earlier (see "Item being considered for inclusion in the agenda") is placed on the agenda, no resolution concerning this question may be submitted under article 17.
3. If the item mentioned earlier (see "Item being considered for inclusion in the agenda") is placed on the agenda, the maximum number of advisers will be twelve.
4. Copies of the Advisory Opinion No. 1 are available on request.
Updated by SA. Approved by AA. Last update: 26 May 2000.