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Labour Standards

ILO Governing Body approves report of Committee on Freedom of Association

ILO executive body adopts report on violations of freedom of association.

Press release | 13 June 2014
GENEVA ‒ The Governing Body of the International Labour Organization (ILO) approved the 372nd report of its Committee on Freedom of Association in which it examined 29 cases concerning alleged violations of freedom of association coming from the four corners of the globe.

Yves Veyrier, the Worker spokesperson on the Committee, highlighted the importance of its work for workers around the world.

He recalled that the Committee stresses the especially grave cases where the life and safety of trade unionists are in peril, and underlined that its recommendations are aimed at stimulating the action of governments confronted with the need to re-establish full respect for the exercise of freedom of association and collective bargaining. Such action could be needed at the enterprise level, as shown in case No. 3011 concerning Turkey, or in a particular sector, as in case No. 3038 concerning Norway. Action could also be necessary at the national level, for example with respect to legislation, as in case no. 3025 concerning Egypt or cases nos. 2177 and 2183 concerning the public service in Japan.

Inalienable rights

In his final report to the Governing Body, the Employer Spokesperson on the Committee, Peter Anderson, said: “The rights to freedom of association set out in this latest report are both inalienable to those that subscribe to ILO values, and equally claimed by employer bodies as they are by trade unions. Regrettably once again the Governing Body and the CFA has identified egregious breaches by the government of Venezuela against the rights of its peak national employer body, FEDECAMARAS. These must be rectified immediately.”

“Just as it can be said that one measure of a nation is how they deal with their minorities, a measure of a government’s commitment to freedom of association is how the State recognises these rights in the hands of those with which they disagree,” Anderson added.

The chair of the Committee, Professor Paul van der Heijden, highlighted the critical role that the Committee played for the defence of these fundamental human rights for both workers and employers throughout the world. The Committee’s work was guided by its Digest of principles and decisions in order to ensure universality, certainty and coherence.

He welcomed efforts made by Governments to implement the Committee’s recommendations, such as in Case No. 2914 regarding anti-union discrimination in Gabon and the criminal convictions for violence against trade unionists in Case No. 1787 regarding Colombia. He recalled the Committee’s support for continuing ILO assistance towards the development at national level of independent, impartial and rapid appeal mechanisms that can facilitate domestic solutions.

At its 321st Session, the ILO Governing Body also elected the 18 members of its Committee on Freedom of Association for the next three-year term and re-appointed its third independent chairperson ‒ Professor Paul van der Heijden, former Rector Magnificus and President of the University of Leiden - since the creation of the Committee in 1951.