President of Uruguay at the ILO Conference: Social dialogue and collective bargaining are essential for progress

Without agreements, there is no progress, President Tabaré Vázquez said at the opening day of the ILO annual meeting in Geneva. In his message to delegates, he warned that "we must not wait for the future, we must build it."

Press release | 05 June 2017

GENEVA (ILO News) The President of the Eastern Republic of Uruguay, Tabaré Vázquez, today defended social dialogue and collective bargaining as an essential component of the development of countries, speaking on the opening day of the 106th International Labour Conference at the ILO.

"Without dialogue there are no agreements and without agreements there is neither genuine and sustainable progress, nor development," Vázquez told a special plenary session of the Conference, convening representatives of governments and employers’and workers' organizations from the 187 member states of the International Labour Organization (ILO).

The Uruguayan president told delegates that he wanted to refer specifically to the topic of "collective bargaining and dialogue in the private sector and in the public sector, between governments and trade unions and employers”, which he described as "a key instrument to build a world of work that serves everyone.”

"Therein lies the key to the social contract and democracy, indispensable for progress," he added.

"The power of dialogue and negotiation does not consist in shouting, threatening, hitting tables or slamming doors, but in recognizing others as fellow beings, listening to them, not fearing that they may be right, and having the capacity to propose, negotiate and agree," explained the Uruguayan President.

Vázquez told delegates that "Uruguay has a vast experience in social dialogue" and noted that "the result is genuinely positive", and has played a role in improvements in real wages, quality of employment, training of workers and entrepreneurs, gender equality, social security coverage, poverty reduction, and economic growth.

Vázquez added that the progress recorded in his country is "an achievement of the entire Uruguayan society as a whole".

The President of Uruguay considered that trust in a better and shared future is key. "Without that confidence in a better and shared future, neither the International Labor Organization would be what it is now, nor would we be here."

In his words of welcome to the President of Uruguay, ILO Director-General Guy Ryder also addressed this issue and said that "in times of economic and political uncertainty, dialogue between the political, business and the world of work is more and more important. "

"Your country, which in recent years has been victorious in the struggles for democracy, has today strong and consolidated institutions and a political culture of dialogue," added the Director-General of the ILO.

Ryder recalled that Uruguay is "a founding member of the ILO which has contributed to the values and principles to this Organization since its accession in 1919. Uruguay has ratified the largest number of international labor Conventions in the Americas (109) and is the fifth among the 187 member States of the Organization."

During his address to the ILO, President Távaré Vázquez also addressed the issue of labour migration, which will be the subject of special attention by a Committee that will meet in the framework of the Conference.

"Let us aim towards a secure, neat and labour migration harmonized with international labour standards, as well as with national policies," said Vázquez.

The Uruguayan President also reaffirmed the support of his country of the fundamental principles of the ILO, as well as for the initiatives undertaken by the Organization in the framework of its centenary to be celebrated in 2019, one of which is the Initiative on the Future of Work.

"In today's world, those who try to solve their challenges with answers from the past are condemned to failure, those who stop move backwards, and those who aspire to be saved on their own are hopelessly lost," he said.

He also stated that "we must not wait for the future, we must build it. And we build it knowing that it will never be immutable or perfect, but that it can always be better and perfectible.”