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103rd International Labour Conference

Ryder: We’ve endorsed an “agenda that really matters”

World parliament of labour offers hope to millions of victims of forced labour, discusses migration, ways out of informality and overcoming mass unemployment.

Press release | 12 June 2014
GENEVA – The 103rd International Labour Conference (ILC) closed following more than two weeks of deliberations on key world of work issues, including forced labour, migration, informality, and investment in quality employment.

“I believe that the Conference session…will be remembered, above all, for the overwhelming adoption of the Protocol to Convention No. 29 on Forced Labour. It is the fruit of our collective determination to put an end to an abomination which still afflicts our world of work, and to free its 21 million victims,” said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder in closing remarks to the ILC.

The more than 4,700 government, employer and worker delegates to the Conference adopted a new legally binding ILO Protocol on Forced Labour, which aims to advance prevention, protection and compensation measures, as well as to intensify efforts to eliminate contemporary forms of slavery.

Delegates to the Conference also discussed challenges in opening the road from informal to formal work, and agreed to hold a second discussion next year with the aim of adopting a Recommendation.

“This transition ( from the informal to the formal economy) matters to us all, and listening to what was said in plenary yesterday left me confident that the seeds planted this year will allow us to harvest a valuable and much needed Recommendation at next year’s Conference,” the head of the ILO said. The informal economy represents some 40 per cent of the global workforce.

The world parliament of labour reached consensus on the need for a comprehensive employment policy framework and pro-active, employment-centred, inclusive growth strategies, both at global and national levels.

Ryder called the consensus “a framework for the ILO to deliver its contribution to overcoming the defining scourge of our time – the crisis of mass unemployment.” Delegates also agreed to promote decent work as an explicit goal of the United Nations-led post-2015 global development agenda.

The Conference Committee on the Application of Standards examined individual cases covering a range of concerns addressed by the ILO, including a general survey on minimum wage setting.

In the closing Plenary, many delegates expressed concern at the inability of that Committee to reach conclusions on many cases. In response, Ryder affirmed the need for the ILO to have “a strong, authoritative standards system enjoying full tripartite support” and called for action by all constituents to make good on their expressed commitment to that goal.

Delegates also adopted amendments to the ILO's Maritime Labour Convention, 2006. The amendments concern measures to protect abandoned seafarers, and to provide financial security for compensation in cases of death and long-term disability.

In their plenary speeches labour ministers, government, worker and employer representatives addressed the issue of labour migration , the theme of the ILO Director-General’s report to the Conference this year.

“The issue of labour migration resonates with you all…realizing the undoubted economic potential of migration depends very heavily on making it fair. And that means adopting a rights-based approach which is still more frequently talked about than applied,” Ryder said.

The Conference received important messages highlighting the centrality of the ILO’s decent work agenda from Prime Minister Ensour of Jordan and from Prime Minister Altankhuyag of Mongolia within the framework of the World of Work Summit on 9 June.

Reminding delegates of today’s observance of World Child Labour Day, the Director-General said: “Let me join Pope Francis in raising the Red Card against child labour… We do want to see child labour sent, once and for all, off the field of our world of work.”

The Pope had sent the ILC a message of support for the work of the ILO.

In his closing remarks, the Director-General of the ILO thanked the President of the Conference, Daniel Funes de Rioja, for “38 years of your attendance and your outstanding contribution to the work of our Organization” which “marked the history of the ILO.”

For information please contact the ILO Department of Communication at or +4122/799-7912.