11 June 2012
Mr President, conference
It is my honour to address you on behalf of the British Trades Union Congress.
So far this has been a conference of both positives and negatives, although I am bound to say that the one great positive from the 28 May outweighs the rest.
Coming from the British Trades Union Congress, where our new Director General began his career no one will be surprised to hear me say how proud we are of him and how certain we are that under his leadership the ILO will build on the legacy left by Juan Somavia - the fundamental rights declaration, the social justice declaration, and the setting out of the Decent Work Agenda.
Guy Ryder will take our work to the next stage and ensure that the ILO continues to fulfil its core mandate. It was both and honour and a pleasure to be able to cast my vote for him on the 28th.
It must also be said that the contest itself was a credit to this organisation, the range of excellent candidates is a reflection of the importance of the ILO's role, and the transparency and openness of its conduct an indication of the way in which me must proceed in future.
During this conference the progress on the social protection recommendation, the conclusions of the recurrent discussion on the fundamental principles and rights at work, and the excellent spirit in which the discussions were conducted, and the conclusions on youth employment show that the ILO is moving forwards.
We remain confident that with goodwill and commitment this organisation can continue both to develop standards that are relevant to the global economy of the 21st century, instruments that cover all types of workers, women and men, in the formal and informal economy, in precarious work and permanent employment and to continue to make sure that existing standards are ratified and their provisions realised, on the ground, where it matters.
To achieve this though, we must work together.
While I and my organisation are totally committed to tripartism, to working together with governments and employers, I have never been a believer in claiming a 'false consensus' or in trying to pretend there is agreement when there is none, however the fact that the Committee of Applications was unable to discuss a list of cases this year was appalling.
Some of our employer colleagues and their lawyers have an issue regarding their interpretation of a core convention. I take the diametrically opposed view to them on this in relation to the core conventions, but am ready to have the discussion.
What is unacceptable is the tactics that led to the committee being unable at this conference to conclude its work. Workers in countries facing the gravest abuses from Guatemala and Fiji to Swaziland and Iraq, those trapped in forced and child labour, those being discriminated against around the world received no chance to explain their situation and seek redress and assistance via this organisation.
This cannot be allowed to happen again. Working with the new Director General we must find a way forward, the employers must decide whether they support the work of this organisation or not and governments and workers must commit to use the tools the ILO provides to deliver decent work for all.
The constituents must work together and the office must be focused, refocused where needed, to deliver in a unified and coherent way on the core mandate of the ILO.
The task before us all, with the leadership of the new Director General, is not an easy one but then if it was the ILO wouldn't need to exist.
Thank you conference.
Briefing document (700 words) issued 11 Jun 2012
This page http://www.tuc.org.uk/international/tuc-21107-f0.cfm
printed 18 May 2013 at 18:47 hrs by 22.214.171.124