101st International Labour Conference kicks off in Geneva

30.05.2012

Some 6,000 delegates representing workers, employers and governments come to the International Labour Organization each year to debate international labour standards, the application of ILO Recommendations and Conventions and discuss how the tripartite body can improve workers' rights around the world.

GENEVA: The International Labour Conference (ILC) is underway in Geneva, Switzerland at the UN's International Labour Organization. Issues being discussed include youth employment, social protection floors, and the application of fundamental principles and rights of workers.

The Committee on the Application of Standards is a standing committee that meets each year to examine specific cases identified by workers and employers on the application of ILO Conventions.

A list of 25 priority cases identified by the workers' group, in consultation with unions and national centres, is currently being debated with the employers group. Delegates hope to reach agreement on May 31 on a final list. Throughout the next two weeks these cases will be discussed in the tripartite committee.

Included in the list proposed by the workers' group is Belarus, Colombia, Fiji, Swaziland Zimbabwe, Indonesia and Turkey in regards to Convention 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize; Philippines on Convention 182 on Child Labour; Mexico for Convention 155 on Mine Health and Safety; and Korea, regarding Convention 111 on Discrimination.

The cases are based on findings of the ILO's Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Standards. Each year the experts release a report examining government compliance with ratified conventions. See full report here: http://www.ilo.org/global/standards/WCMS_175675/lang--en/index.htm (available in English, French and Spanish).

Of particular interest this year is the case on Korea, where the experts identified discrimination against workers based on employment status as in violation of Convention 111. It is a rare occasion that the ILO recognizes such types of discrimination, and if the case comes before the Committee it should be a lively debate.

The Conference will also examine the implementation of the ILO's 2008 Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization and discuss the findings of a report entitled Fundamental principles and rights at work: From commitment to action. One of the issues to be considered in this debate is the extent to which precarious work undermines workers' rights to Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining and what action ILO should take to address this.

For more information about the International Labour Conference and the debates taking place, go to: http://www.ilo.org/ilc/ILCSessions/101stSession/lang--en/index.htm

The conference runs from May 30 to June 15.