LISBON, 13 February (ILO News) – –The 8th European Regional Meeting of the International Labour Organization (ILO) concluded here today with calls for a coordinated effort to maintain employment and restore economic growth amid “the most serious economic crisis to hit Europe for 60 years”.
Delegates said it was vital to ensure that “coordinated stimulus packages are designed to expand aggregate demand, avoid deflationary spirals and maintain employment and decent work opportunities” and that “reformed finance markets supply the capital needed by sustainable enterprises for productive investment and decent work”.
Representatives of governments, workers and employers from European and Central Asian member States of the ILO also called for protection for the most vulnerable members of the population so that they do not become separated from the labour market or become working poor and stressed “the urgent need for effective social dialogue and collective bargaining due to the gravity of the crisis”.
They urged “greater policy coherence at national, regional and global levels” as a way to “avoid protectionism in all its forms, which can only exacerbate the effects of the crisis in the longer term”.
ILO Constituents also pledged to “remain extremely vigilant of the risks of a resurgence of political reactions to rising unemployment and social exclusion in the form of race and religious hatred, discrimination against immigrants or ethnic minorities, victimization of union representatives and protectionist economic policies that would aggravate the crisis”.
“This time it was not ‘business as usual’”, said Petra Ulshoefer, Director of the Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia of the ILO in her closing statement. “Consensus and solidarity are needed now more than ever. Despite the great diversity of country situations, many similarities have become evident in the approaches of governments to tackle the crisis. We have seen a strong consensus among constituents of all countries that the Decent Work Agenda is guiding the way towards mitigating the social impacts of the crisis”.
In the conclusions, government, worker and employer delegates said that “the severity of the economic crisis is affecting a large number of workers on the labour market, including many who had secure jobs… Until more normal conditions return to credit markets, the threat of wage cuts, further lay-offs and rising unemployment will remain”.
The conclusions of the meeting also stressed that fundamental principles and rights at work should be safeguarded, international labour standards promoted, skills development and training increased and institutions for social dialogue fully utilized. They also stated that fundamental principles and rights at work are “an important defence against the risk that recession may lead to an increase in worker exploitation”.
“We should also stimulate close cooperation at the regional level, through European institutions, UN agencies and regional networks of governments and employers’ and workers’ organizations,” Ms Ulshoefer said. “And we must not forget that the European and Central Asian region must play a leading role in fostering policy coherence at the global level, without losing sight of the need to forge a sustainable development path”.
The meeting also called for the increased participation of constituents in Decent Work Country Programmes, which have become a valuable means for the ILO and its constituents in the region to develop integrated approaches to the implementation of the Decent Work Agenda.
The ILO European and Central Asian member States meet every four years to forge policies and set priorities for the area.