The 104th International Labour Conference opened Monday with a call by the ILO Director-General Guy Ryder to confront major challenges facing the future of work.
Ryder said the proposed Future of work initiative is to include work and society, decent jobs for all, and the governance of work.
He proposed a high-level commission on the future of work be set up to prepare a report to the ILO’s centenary Conference in 2019.
Ryder called on delegates to consider adopting a solemn centenary declaration:
“The issues of jobs, of equity, the sustainability of human security, of labour mobility and of social dialogue and much more which need to be tackled in a future of work initiative are almost a definition of the key policy issues of our time.”
The International Labour Conference is an annual event hosted by the International Labour Organization and welcomes delegates from employers, workers and government. This year’s agenda includes the discussion of a recommendation aimed at transititoning from the informal to the formal economy.
The conference elected Ieva Jaunzeme, State Secretary of the Ministry of Welfare of Latvia, as President of the ILC. She highlighted the ILO’s influence on her country’s role as president of the European Union council.
“ILO standards under the tripartite practices have inspired us while working on and implementing the presidency program.”
The representative for the employers, Jorgen Ronnest, referred to another issue on the conference agenda—the transition from the informal to the formal economy.
“Informality represents the biggest barrier to improvement of the employment situation in many countries.”
And wrapping up the opening ceremony, workers spokesperson Luc Cortebeck emphasized the importance of key discussions on core labour protection issues, including wages, safety and health, working time and maternity protection.
“Less protection does not help the economy. And does not create jobs. On the contrary it creates high costs for enterprises and society.”
Shortly after the opening session, a crowd gathered outside the assembly hall to kick off a special event aimed at supporting an end to modern slavery.
To launch the campaign, a large panel on wheels was installed at the Palais des Nations in Geneva for supporters to sign.
ILO’s Guy Ryder was the first to sign.
“There are still 21 million victims of forced labour in the world today and this protocol is an important instrument to finish the job that has been started. I hope this can be the beginning to putting an end to forced labour in the world.”
Called 50 for Freedom, the goal of the campaign is to have at least 50 governments ratify the Forced Labour Protocol by 2018.
Tomorrow the conference continues its work with committees discussing such issues as social protection, small and medium sized enterprises and the transition from the informal to the formal economy.
Reporting from the Palais de Nations in Geneva this is Carla Drysdale.