Social Dialogue offers voice to everyone

Inaugural address by Mr Satoshi Sasaki, Deputy Director, DWT South Asia and India at National Tripartite Social Dialogue Workshop in Mumbai organized jointly by the ILO and V V Giri National Labour Institute.

Statement | 09 December 2019
    A warm welcome to this National Workshop on Social Dialogue. Let me start with looking at the India’s role in forging the culture of social dialogue, in line with the development of the ILO in the last 100 years. As you may know, India is a founding member of the ILO. In addition, India has been a permanent member of the ILO Governing Body since 1922. Therefore, I can say that India has been playing a critical role in shaping social dialogue in the world.

    The ILO was established in 1919 in the wake of World War I, on a set of founding principles that included the recognition of freedom of association. The ILO Constitution created a Governing Body of workers and employers’ representatives, enjoying equal status with government representatives. This planted the seeds of what became known as TRIPARTISM – or consultation between governments, and workers and employers’ organizations, mainly at the national level. Living through the First World War convinced the founders of the ILO that lasting peace could only be achieved if it was based on social justice. It was recognised that achieving social justice would require the democratic participation of workers and employers, together with governments. At the end of another devastating World War, nations again reaffirmed freedom of association as essential for sustained progress. They emphasized the continued need to seek out opportunities for dialogue and democratic decision-making, with a view to improving the welfare of all. These principles became enshrined in the ILO’s Declaration of Philadelphia, adopted in 1944. The Declaration extended the scope of the ILO’s work by affirming the centrality of human rights for all people. In June this year, the ILO celebrated its 100 years anniversary at the International Labour Conference in Geneva. The conference adopted the ILO Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work, which reaffirmed tripartism and social dialogue is at the core of the ILO and focus given at the state level to promote the same.

    Indeed, it is the ILO’s mandate to promote social dialogue, through various means. These include the promotion of ratification and implementation of ILO Conventions, the provision of technical assistance, knowledge development, capacity building and the sharing of experiences and good practices. Social dialogue also shapes our priorities, as well as the measures the ILO supports at a country level. All these efforts contribute to realize global Sustainable Development Goal 8, the goal of Decent Work for all. Decent Work Country Programme (DWCP) 2018-22 is a shared programme document among the tripartite constituents and the ILO in India. In this document, the tripartite constituents in India put social dialogue as their priority.

    So what are we going to discuss in this meeting? In its most basic form, social dialogue rests on the principle that those most affected by decisions, should participate meaningfully in shaping the rules and conditions of work. It is about having a voice – which gives workers and employers a say in decisions being taken that affect them. Within this context, this workshop therefore has a two-fold purpose. First, sharing information based on the ILO’s efforts to support state-level social dialogue mechanisms and activities. Second, learning from you about how the ILO could further support your social dialogue priorities and initiatives, both at national and state levels.

    We look forward to productive discussions that leads to a clear set of actions, on which the ILO could work with you in the coming years.

    Thank you for your kind attention.