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ILO Governing Body opens 298th session: Labour situation in Belarus and Myanmar will be discussed, along with ILO budget, trade and employment

The Governing Body of the International Labour Office (ILO) will address a range of issues at its 298th session beginning here today, including basic labour rights in Myanmar and Belarus, trade and employment, wages around the world, UN reform and the latest report of the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association.

Press release | 08 March 2007

GENEVA (ILO News) – The Governing Body of the International Labour Office (ILO) will address a range of issues at its 298th session beginning here today, including basic labour rights in Myanmar and Belarus, trade and employment, wages around the world, UN reform and the latest report of the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association.

The Governing Body will review the agreement reached between the ILO and the government of Myanmar on a mechanism for victims of forced labour to seek redress without having to fear reprisals. This agreement, signed on 26 February 2007, sets out the ways in which the ILO Liaison Officer in Yangon would deal with complaints of forced labour, and the first complaints have already been received. The Governing Body will examine placing a request for an advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice.

The Governing Body will also review the actions of the government of Belarus to comply with the recommendations of a 2004 Commission of Inquiry on trade union rights in that country.

The meeting, scheduled for 8-30 March, will also examine programme and budget proposals for the 2008-09 biennium. The ILO Director-General Juan Somavia has said the budget is designed to support the Organization's goal of decent work for all in countries, regions and globally.

The Director-General proposes a budget of US$594 million for 2008-09. In constant 2006-07 US dollars, this is the same budget level as for the present biennium.

The Working Party on the Social Dimension of Globalization will hold a panel discussion on trade and employment following the publication in February of a joint ILO/WTO Secretariat review (Note 1) of existing academic literature on this issue. The discussion will be led by Pascal Lamy, Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and ILO Director-General Juan Somavia.

The Working Party will also report on preparations for the ILO Forum on Decent Work for a Fair Globalization to be held in Lisbon on 1-2 November 2007.

Among other issues, the Committee on Social and Employment Policy will examine wage developments around the world (see GB.298/ESP/2), the portability of skills (GB.298/ESP/3) and decent work in the informal economy (GB.298/ESP/4) and will hear presentations on employment policy in two countries, Pakistan and Burkina Faso.

The Subcommittee on Multinational Enterprise will update the Governing Body members on corporate social responsibility related activities worldwide (see GB.298/MNE/2) and planning for an event scheduled on 16 November 2007 to mark the 30th anniversary of the ILO Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy.

The Committee on Technical Cooperation will review highlights of the ILO's International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) in 2006, public-private partnerships for technical cooperation (GB.298/TC/3) and the Organization's technical cooperation programme for Colombia (GB.298/TC/4).

The Governing Body is the executive body of the International Labour Office (the Office is the secretariat of the Organization). It meets three times a year, in March, June and November and takes decisions on ILO policy, the agenda of the International Labour Conference and the draft Programme and Budget of the Organization for submission to the Conference.

It is composed of 56 titular members (28 Governments, 14 Employers and 14 Workers) and 66 deputy members (28 Governments, 19 Employers and 19 Workers). Ten of the titular government seats are permanently held by States of chief industrial importance (Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States). The other Government members are elected by the Conference every three years.

All Governing Body documents referred to in this release can be found at: www.ilo.org/public/english/standards/relm/gb/docs/gb298/index.htm.


Note 1 - International Labour Office and Secretariat of the WTO, Trade and employment: Challenges for policy research, a joint ILO/WTO Secretariat study, Geneva, Feb. 2007.