Peace and resilience

Opening address at the Trade Union Regional Forum on Decent Work for Peace and Resilience

By Mr Khalid Hassan, Director, ILO Country Office for the Philippines at the Opening address at the Trade Union Regional Forum on Decent Work for Peace and Resilience, Manila, Philippines, 21 August 2018

Statement | Manila, Philippines | 21 August 2018
  • Honourable Secretary Bello, represented by Undersecretary and currently OIC Secretary Maglunsod along with officials of the Department of Labor and Employment;
  • Brothers and sisters representing workers organizations and trade unions in the Asia and the Pacific;
  • ILO colleagues from the Bureau for Workers Activities - Mr Castro, Mr Ahn, Mr Mwamadzingo, and Ms La Hovary;
  • Professor Jutersonke from the Geneva-based Centre on Conflict, Development and Peace Building;
  • Members of the press;
  • Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, good morning!
I am glad to part of this important regional workshop. To our brothers and sisters representing trade unions in the Asia and the Pacific, welcome to the Philippines. I hope you enjoy your stay in this beautiful country. It is also an honour to have the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)  to keynote this forum. Aside from leading the DOLE, Secretary Bello who is in Israel and represented today by Undersecretary and currently OIC Secretary Maglunsod, is also the government’s Chief Peace Negotiator, which is linked to the focus of this regional workshop.

This workshop brings together 22 delegates from 14 countries, namely Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Japan, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Timor Leste, and of course, the Philippines as host. Let me express our sincere appreciation to our brothers and sisters from TUCP, SENTRO, FFW, and KMU for the warm welcome to our international delegates.

We are indeed grateful and humbled in recognising the positive response from all of you, in spite of your very busy official responsibilities and in the Philippines, it is a holiday but still a lot of colleagues find time to be here. Your voices matter to us and we hope that you will also take this opportunity to strengthen the network of trade unions in the region and to exchange knowledge, experiences and practices that contribute to the success of the trade union movement.

Your presence and participation is a clear indication of mutual respect and support. Because of the critical nature of the subject of this workshop, we expect that your journey this week will yield fruitful results for the benefit of the labour movement in the region, as well as workers and their families.

We believe that peace and tranquillity is a crucial factor that can propel countries towards sustainable development. As workers, we also know that peace and tranquillity must be nurtured. It does not come easy, neither it is automatic.

It is against this background that trade unions can contribute to reducing causes of conflict, manage situations of disasters and also be effectively involved in assisting post-conflict countries and disaster-affected communities to build back better. Experiences of unions in resolving conflict at the workplace, and in bridging divided communities are assets that could be employed in conflict and crisis response at the local, national, and regional levels.

Conflicts and disasters have caused untold hardships including destruction of workplaces, increase in unemployment, separation of families, and displacement of people with many living in special camps, and loss of union membership and income.

Conflicts have had a negative impact on fundamental rights at work, as there are many instances when freedom of association and collective bargaining, may be restricted by states during conflicts and disasters.

Conflicts dislocate labour markets, and often the rule of law is sidelined. This leads to decreased protection against discrimination and increases in the use of forced labour and child labour as a result of destruction of adult jobs, forced migration and increased number of orphans.

It is in this context that the Workers' Group of the ILO Governing Body have fully endorsed this subject matter. This endorsement led to the decision to place on the agenda of the International Labour Conference a standard-setting item on decent work for peace, security and disaster resilience to revise Recommendation No. 71.

In 2017, the ILC adopted Recommendation No. 205 on a strong tripartite consensus. The new Recommendation, which supersedes Recommendation No. 71, is a timely, highly relevant, and up-to-date instrument to guide ILO constituents.

Recommendation No. 205 stands out as the only international normative framework focusing on employment and decent work dimension in the context of multiplication, complexity and the devastating impact of crisis, which affects over two billion people globally in the last decade.

Next year, the ILO will mark its Centenary or 100th anniversary. We have to remember that the ILO was founded in 1919 after a major conflict – the first World War to reflect the belief that universal and lasting peace can be established only if it is based on social justice.

This is the same premise of Recommendation No. 71 on the fundamental role of employment and social justice. Recommendation No. 205 expands the original scope of Recommendation No. 71 to include internal conflicts and disasters.

It broadens and updates the guidance on employment to several other elements of the Decent Work Agenda, taking into account the contemporary context and nature of crises as well as the experience gained by the ILO and the international community in crisis response. Furthermore, it adopts the latest internationally agreed terminology.

Upon its adoption, governments, employers and workers were called upon to give full effect to Recommendation No. 205. The ILO proposed a follow-up strategy for action based on the content of the Recommendation and priority areas of demand, initially covering a six-year period from 2018 to 2023.

At this juncture, let me acknowledge colleagues in ACTRAV for spearheading arrangements to support the full implementation of Recommendation No. 205. Mr Mwamadzingo and Ms La Hovary provided technical inputs to the Conference discussions that led to the adoption of the Recommendation.

Even after the adoption, they have not rested on their laurels to say that their work is done. They have continuously looked for innovative approaches to keep the Recommendation visible.

I was informed that the global journey towards giving effect to the Recommendation No. 205 started in Africa, followed by Eastern Europe and Central region, and then in the Americas including the Caribbean islands.

Similarly, in Africa, the ILO International Training Centre organized a Regional Academy in June. These regional activities will culminate at the Global Workers' Academy to be held this October in Turin. Thereafter, the ILO will support national level implementation.

Let me conclude by emphasizing the role of trade unions in conflicts and disaster management. I wish to call upon trade union leaders, educators and conflict experts to share their knowledge and experience on how they have dealt with conflicts and disasters.

Rest assured that the ILO will provide continued support through technical advisory and services for the design and implementation of regional, sub-regional and national trade union plans of action, as follow-up to our long standing cooperation with the labour movement in the region.

As I end, let me wish you all a successful workshop and fruitful deliberations. Thank you!