26 February, 2015After months of pressure from trade unions, the right to strike has been recognized by the employers’ group at the International Labour Organization (ILO) following a crucial tripartite meeting in Geneva from 23 to 25 February.
A joint statement from the employers’ and workers’ groups at the meeting affirms that the right to industrial action is recognized by the ILO.
The bilateral ceasefire promotes a package of proposals to end the deadlock that has led to an impasse at the ILO since 2012.
The proposals will now be put to the ILO’s governing body in March for approval.
Employers’ groups have been challenging the right to strike because it is not explicitly expressed in ILO Convention 87, even though for years it has been universally accepted by governments, workers and employers alike.
This has meant that cases of serious labour violations in many countries have been left unaddressed by the ILO as the employers’ group refused to budge on the issue.
The statement follows a global protest day in defence of the right to strike by union federations on 18 February, involving more than 100 actions in over 60 countries, and including IndustriALL Global Union affiliates. The protests were designed to put pressure on both governments and employers at the ILO.
Significantly, the Government Group, which had previously been split on the issue, strongly endorsed the right to strike at the February meeting. In a statement at the discussions it said:
“The Government Group recognizes that the right to strike is linked to freedom of association, which is a fundamental principle and right at work of the ILO. The Government Group specifically recognizes that without protecting a right to strike, Freedom of Association, in particular the right to organize activities for the purpose of promoting and protecting workers’ interests, cannot be fully realized.”
Jyrki Raina, IndustriALL’s general secretary, said:
The recognition by employers of the right to strike is a very positive step forward. Credit must go to our affiliates that have fought hard in defence of this fundamental right. However, the battle is not over. We must remain vigilant and ensure that employers don’t take the right to strike hostage again.