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98th International Labour Conference

Heads of State, government and leaders from the world of work tackle the global jobs crisis

Some 4,000 representatives of government and employers’ and workers’ organizations are to meet in Geneva on 3-19 June to search during the annual Conference of the International Labour Organization for an effective response to the growing impact of the economic and financial crisis on employment, social protection and the world of work.

Press release | 02 June 2009

GENEVA (ILO News) – Some 4,000 representatives of government and employers’ and workers’ organizations are to meet here on 3-19 June to search for an effective response to the growing impact of the economic and financial crisis on employment, social protection and the world of work.

The annual Conference of the International Labour Organization has been called on to discuss ways and means to protect workers, families and enterprises from the effects of the crisis and to promote rapid economic and employment recovery.

The International Labour Conference will feature on 15-17 June an ILO Summit on the Global Jobs Crisis. This Summit will be addressed by some ten Heads of State and Government, a panel of Vice-Presidents, and Labour Ministers and employers’ and trade unions’ leaders from the 183 ILO member States.

The agenda of the International Labour Conference has been reorganized at short notice in order to focus on the global jobs crisis. Job losses have been massive in all regions. Future forecasts predict continued job losses and high and persistent unemployment and poverty well into 2010. The Conference will discuss a range of measures and policies to promote employment and enterprise development, and extend social and other protection to persons affected.

A special Committee of the Whole on Crisis Responses will start immediately after the opening of the Conference to examine in detail the elements of a global response to the jobs crisis.

The Conference will also hold discussions on gender equality and decent work, as well as on the application of labour standards. It will consider the development of a new ILO standard on HIV/AIDS in the world of work.

The Conference will host a series of high-level panels involving ministers, senior policy-makers, representatives of business and labour, representatives of international and regional organizations and other global opinion leaders on the global jobs crisis, and the role of enterprises, employment policies, social protection, labour rights, international labour standards and social dialogue in shaping a people-centred decent work approach to recovery and growth.

ILO Director-General Juan Somavia will provide an overview of the global jobs crisis and ways to overcome it in an address to the plenary on 3 June. The Director-General’s Report to the Conference presents elements of a Global Jobs Pact as an ILO contribution to recovery for national and multilateral decision-making.

The Conference will also examine ILO programme and budget proposals for the 2010-11 biennium.

Working agenda

The Conference will start discussions on a new ILO instrument on HIV/AIDS and the world of work with a view toward adopting a Recommendation. A second discussion on the proposed Recommendation will follow in June 2010. ILO Recommendations are not legally binding and serve as guidelines for policy and legislative action, and member States are required to submit reports on their application.

The Conference will also take stock of gender equality in the world of work as a central element in the ILO’s Decent Work Agenda. A report prepared for the Conference identifies current gaps and highlights good practices in overcoming gender equality deficits with regard to access to rights, employment opportunities, social protection and social dialogue.

The Conference Committee on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations will consider information and reports supplied by governments on the effect given to ILO labour standards and, more particularly a general survey of reports submitted under Article 19 of the ILO Constitution with respect to the Occupational Safety and Health Convention, 1981 (No. 155), the Occupational Safety and Health Recommendation, 1981 (No. 164), and the Protocol of 2002 to the Occupational Safety and Health Convention, 1981.

The Committee will hold a special sitting to discuss the effect given by the Government of Myanmar to the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry set up to examine the observance of the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29).

The Committee is expected to select about 25 countries for a discussion on their application of specific Conventions.

The annual World Day Against Child Labour will be marked on 12 June on the theme of girls in child labour.

On 9 June, the Conference Plenary will discuss the ILO’s annual Global Report on forced labour. “The Cost of Coercion” says that the “opportunity cost” of coercion to the workers affected by forced labour practices, in terms of lost earnings, now reaches over USD 20 billion.

During the plenary, delegates will also address the latest ILO report on the situation of workers in the occupied Arab territories.

The role of the International Labour Conference is to adopt and oversee compliance with international labour standards, establish the budget of the Organization and elect members of the Governing Body. Since 1919, the Conference has served as a major international forum for debate on social and labour questions of worldwide importance.

The Conference is expected to draw some 4,000 delegates including labour ministers and leaders of workers’ and employers’ organizations from most of the ILO’s 183 member States. Each member country has the right to send four delegates to the Conference: two from government and one each representing workers and employers, each of whom may speak and vote independently.