ILO Governing Body concluded its 349th session (30 October – November 9) at its headquarters at Geneva in Switzerland with a number of potentially far-reaching decisions on the future of work. Endorsement of the proposal to establish a Global Coalition for Social Justice and adoption of a new Global Strategy on Occupational Safety and Health 2024-2030 were among the several key decisions. Discussion on right to strike and related issues in two special sessions on November 10 and 11, especially after the conclusion of the Governing Body meet on November 9 is not less significant, since its outcome can potentially make or mar the future of well-being of workers.
Conducting the special sessions on right to strike was an extraordinary occasion. Such special meetings have been convened on only three occasions: in September 1932, October 1935, and May 1970. The November 10-11, 2023 meetings was only the fourth one in the history of ILO’s existence since 1919, which was convened on the request of 14 regular Employer members of the Governing Body made on 12 September 2023, in order to decide on the urgent inclusion of the issue on the agenda of 112th Session of the International Labour Conference (ILC) to be held in June 2024. It was proposed that ILC adopt a Protocol to the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention 1948. The Protocol would concern the right to strike or more broadly, industrial action. The adoption of the Protocol would authoritatively determine the scope and limits of the right to strike in the context of the 1948 convention in this regard.
The other key issues discussed in the Governing Body meet covered developments in the implementation of the Quality Apprenticeships Recommendation, the Youth Employment Action Plan, the follow-up to the resolution concerting labour protection, the follow up to the resolution concerning a just transition, a review of the implementation of the strategy on the elimination of violence and harassment in the world of work, and the ILO integrated strategy for the promotion and implementation of the right to collective bargaining.
The endorsement of the proposal for establishment of Global Coalition for Social Justice is a significant move at a time when over 4 billion people globally lack any social protection. The Coalition would be entrusted with the responsibility to increase multilateral cooperation and partnerships and play a key role in advocating for social justice. An additional responsibility of the Coalition would be to generate increased political commitments and investment, and also galvanising support for the recognition of social justice in the multilateral agenda, in particular at the forthcoming UN Summit of the Future in 2024 and the proposed UN World Social Summit in 2025.
The Global Coalition will be mandated to bring together not only governments, workers’ and employers’ organisations but also international financial institutions, enterprises, academia and non-governmental organisations. It has been presumed that collaborative efforts would allow for greater impact and scale, enabling outcomes otherwise unattainable individually, such as improved access to healthcare, quality education, decent work, leading to better employment opportunities, nutrition, and education for workers and their families.
The new Global Strategy on Occupational Safety and Health for 2024-2030 adopted by the ILO Governing Body, ie the ILO’s Executive Body, aims to guide the ILO’s support for its constituents as they promote, respect and realize the fundamental right to a safe and healthy working environment worldwide, including by improving national occupational safety and health frameworks; strengthening related coordination, partnerships and investment; and enhancing workplace occupational safety and health management systems. The Governing Body also adopted a related implementation plan.
Under Quality Apprenticeships Recommendation, the recommendation calls for the incorporation and promotion of quality apprenticeships within the relevant national education, vocational training, lifelong learning and employment policies. It is significant since the world of work is fast changing with introduction of new technologies, and the workers skills and educations are becoming irrelevant to jobs available.
In the follow up discussion for Youth Employment Action Plan (YEAP) 2020-30, the governing body recommended more allocation of resources in future biennia, and to facilitate the mobilization of adequate extra budgetary resources to that end. It is significant because the youth employment crisis continues, and YEAP 2020-30 needs to be followed up in the right earnest.
Follow up discussion on resolution concerning labour protection was important, since the strategic objective of social protection has two complementary dimensions – labour protection and social security. Together, they protect workers and contribute to the productivity and sustainability of enterprises. The plan of action in this respect also promotes coherence in respect of the Decent Work Agenda and recognizes that labour protection and the other strategic objectives of the ILO are inseparable, interrelated and mutually supportive, in accordance with the ILO Declaration on Social Justice for Fair Globalisation (2008), as amended in 2022, and the ILO Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work. It is consistent with the Programme and Budget for 2024-25 and will contribute to the implementation of the comprehensive and integrated ILO strategy to reduce and prevent inequalities in the world of work, the proposed global strategy on occupational safety and health and other relevant strategies. Furthermore, it will help to give effect to the ILO’s transformative agenda for gender equality.
The Governing Body also endorsed the proposed ILO integrated strategy for the promotion and implementation of the right to collective bargaining and requested the DG ILO to take into account its guidance in implementing the strategy and submit a progress report at its 352nd session in November 2024.
This is an important issue since trade unionism all over the world is in a great crisis, and increasing being made ineffective by informalization of work in both the organized and unorganized sector. Workers are increasingly losing their right to collective bargaining and becoming victim to exploitation in numerous ways. The issue of collective bargaining had come in May 2022 before the tripartite screening group, which had decided to place the strategy for promotion and implementation of the right to collective bargaining on the agenda of the Governing Body. It was included in March 2023 meeting, and now discussed in detail. (IPA Service)