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The future of work ‘with social justice for all’ tops agenda of centenary UN Labour conference

The Centenary International Labour Conference got underway on Monday at the UN in Geneva, with ILO chief Guy Ryder, calling on hundreds of delegates from around the world to help “construct a future of work, with social justice for all”.

The Director-General of the International Labour Organization said that with the possible adoption of a landmark declaration looking to the future, at a time of transformative change, it was time “to tell the world that we have the confidence, the common purpose, the will and the means”, to continue making social justice a top priority.

“We will do so because labour is not a commodity. We will do so, because labour conditions with injustice, hardship and privation, imperil the peace of the world”, he told the more than 5,000 delegates and dozens of world leaders in attendance.

Although this is the 108th International Labour Conference, often dubbed the ‘world parliament’ of the labour movement, it comes in the ILO’s centenary year.

“The defining challenge of this conference comes from the fact that the ILO’s Centenary coincides with the most profound and transformative process of the change in the world of work that it has ever seen,” said Mr. Ryder.

“There is nothing in these changes which questions the relevance of the ILO’s mandate or detracts from its importance. If anything, the reverse is true,” he added.

In a meeting at UN Headquarters in New York to mark the event in April, UN chief António Guterres noted that the ILO had played “a central role in the struggle for social progress”, throughout its history, as the oldest family member of the entire UN system.

Since the digital economy operates in a world without border, he stressed that “more than ever”, international institutions overall “must play a vital role in shaping the future of work we want”.

Mr Ryder said that a declaration focussed on social justice going forward was necessary because “freedom of association and expression are essential to sustained progress.”

“We will do this together because poverty anywhere is a danger to prosperity everywhere”, added the ILO chief, “and we will do it because the failure of any nation to adopt humane conditions of work obstructs other nations which wish to do so.”

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Women still struggle to find a job, let alone reach the top: new UN report calls for 'quantum leap'

Women’s job opportunities have barely improved since the early 1990s, UN labour experts said on Thursday, warning that female workers are still penalized for having children and looking after them.

Released on the eve of International Women's Day, celebrated on 8 March, the International Labour Organization (ILO) report found that 1.3 billion women were in work in 2018, compared with two billion men – a less than two per cent improvement in the last 27 years.

Men still dominate top job sector

“Glass ceiling” concerns over the lack of upward mobility at work also persist, given that fewer than one third of managers are women.

“Women are still under-represented at the top, a situation that has changed very little in the last 30 years. This is despite that fact that they are likely to be better educated than their male counterparts…education is not the main reason for lower employment rates and lower pay of women, but rather that women do not receive the same dividends for education as men.”

ILO 2019 report

According to the ILO’s findings, women’s pay is 20 per cent lower than men’s, as a global average.

iloquantumleapreportThis discrepancy is linked to a career-long “motherhood wage penalty”, which contrasts with the fact that fathers enjoy a “wage premium”.

Worryingly, between 2005 and 2015, there was also a 38 per cent increase in the number of working women who did not have young children, compared to those who had.

This is despite an ILO-Gallup 2017 global report which found that 70 per cent of women prefer working rather than staying at home – something men largely agree with, the organization noted.

‘It will take 209 years to achieve parity in unpaid care work’

“A number of factors are blocking equality in employment, and the one playing the largest role is caregiving,” said Manuela Tomei, Director, ILO Conditions of Work and Equality Department. “In the last 20 years, the amount of time women spent on unpaid care and domestic work has hardly fallen”, she said, while men’s participation has increased “by just eight minutes a day. At this pace of change it will take more than 200 years to achieve equality in time spent in unpaid care work.”

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‘New tech’ business model threatens decent work conditions, warns UN

13 February - Unemployment is down globally but workers’ conditions have not improved, the UN said on Wednesday, warning that some businesses driven by new technology “threaten to undermine” hard-won social gains of recent decades.

According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), most of the 3.3 billion people employed worldwide in 2018 did not enjoy adequate levels of economic security, and lacked sufficient material well-being as well as too few opportunities for advancement.

In total, 172 million people were jobless last year – one in 20 individuals of working age - ILO’s Trends in Global Employment 2019 report shows.

This unemployment rate, which has only just returned to levels last seen before the 2008-9 financial crisis, is not expected to change this year or next, assuming stable global economic conditions; although current uncertainty is “already having a negative effect on the labour market” in upper middle-income countries, it says.

Nonetheless, “being in employment does not always guarantee a decent living,” said Damian Grimshaw, ILO Director of Research. “A full 700 million people are living in extreme or moderate poverty despite having employment.”

Fewer working-poor…in middle-income countries

On a positive note, the ILO report highlights that working poverty has decreased in middle-income countries over the past three decades, although poorer nations are likely to see a rise in the number of working poor.

This is because the pace of poverty reduction is not expected to keep up with employment growth in these emerging economies, despite China’s major contribution in reducing the working poor levels as a result of strong economic growth since 1993.

The ILO data also shows that 360 million people in 2018 worked in a family business and 1.1 billion worked for themselves - often in subsistence activities because of an absence of job opportunities in the formal sector and/or the lack of a social protection system.

Workers ‘unable to find more work or too discouraged to look’

Linked to the challenge of bringing down unemployment, the UN report identifies a lack of opportunity for those who want to work.

This includes those who would like to make the jump from part-time to full-time work and the long-term jobless, who become so discouraged that they stop looking.

Taken together, poor workplace conditions, unemployment and gender inequality have contributed to slower-than-anticipated progress in achieving the key development goal of sustainable work for all, as set out in the 2030 Agenda.

Under 48 per cent of women work, versus 75 per cent of men

Among the most striking labour issues in the report is the continued lack of progress made in closing the gender gap at work, with less than 50 per cent of women in the labour force in 2018, compared with three quarters of men.

This problem is universal, ILO maintains, although the gender gap is widest in the Arab States, Northern Africa and Southern Asia.

Another challenge is the size of the informal sector - a “staggering” two billion workers, or 61 per cent of the world’s workforce. “Informal employment is the reality for the majority of workers worldwide,” ILO notes.

Also of concern is the fact that more than one in five people under 25 years old are not in employment, education or training; part of 15 per cent decline between 1993 and 2018 that is set to continue.

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100 years on, ILO's mission focussed on growing inequality

As it celebrates its centenary year, the International Labour Organization (ILO) must help to tackle inequality in the world of work through the efforts of its 180-plus members, said Director-General Guy Ryder on Wednesday

The ILO chief’s message coincides with the launch of an interactive campaign promoting the work of the organization.

Founded by 44 countries in the aftermath of the First World War, the organization’s mission was to address growing and potentially explosive discontent with poor working conditions in Europe.

Today, that objective is shared by ILO’s 187 Member States, Mr Ryder maintained, in a statement to mark 100 years since the body was founded on 6 June, 1919.

Noting that the nature of work “has changed out of all recognition” in many parts of the world since 1919, thanks in large part to technological advances, Mr Ryder warned that many people have not seen the benefits.

“Hopes and fears are unevenly distributed,” he said. “Uncertainty is high and the levels of trust are all too low. And this tells us that the ILO centenary matters. It matters to us all, whatever the country you live in.”

From the number of hours we work to the principle of a fair wage and protection for injured or sick workers, these and many other social benefits and workplace rights that people from many nations take for granted, are the fruit of ILO’s intervention on the global stage.

Its work to improve labour laws and standards worldwide is symbolized by a triple-locking gate at its former headquarters in Geneva – now the home of the World Trade Organization (WTO) – whose keys are marked separately with each partner: governments, workers and employers.

 

Video : The ILO Centenary – Why it matters to us all

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Over 40 million people still victims of slavery

Slavery is still a very real and widespread phenomenon, affecting more than 40 million people worldwide, says the International Labour Organization (ILO), with children making up a quarter of the victims , despite the entry into force of the landmark Forced Labour protocol in 2016.

2 December is designated the UN International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, which marks the adoption by the General Assembly of the United Nations Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others, which entered into force in 1951.

The day is an opportunity to raise awareness of this global issue, and focus on the eradication of contemporary forms of slavery, such as human trafficking, sexual exploitation, the worst forms of child labour, forced marriage, and the forced recruitment of children for use in armed conflict.

Most child labour that occurs today is for economic exploitation, contrary to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which recognizes “the right of the child to be protected from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child’s education, or to be harmful to the child’s health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development.”

Human trafficking is also explicitly prohibited by the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children, adopted by the General Assembly in 2000, which defines trafficking as the “recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion for the purpose of exploitation.”

The ILO leads an ongoing campaign, along with its partners, to convince 50 countries to ratify the legally-binding Forced Labour Protocol, called 50 for freedom, where members of the public are encouraged to add their names to help reach the target: to date 27 countries have ratified the protocol.

 play  Video - ILO Director message on international day for the abolotion of slavery.

 

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ILO Director-General calls for an end to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, saying it is “a factor leading to violence and harassment in the world of work."

The ILO joins the international community to mark this International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. Standing together under the banner of Alliances for Solidarity , we highlight the importance of human rights for all, irrespective of actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. 

Discrimination against lesbian, gay, bi, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people doesn’t just hurt them; it hurts families, companies and entire countries. The ILO’s Constitution affirms that all human beings “have the right to pursue both their material well-being and their spiritual development in conditions of freedom and dignity, of economic security and equal opportunity”. Each of us has a part to play in ensuring that this aspiration becomes a reality for all workers, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics.

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ILO releases new guide to promote diversity and inclusion at the workplace

GENEVA (ILO News) – On the occasion of International Day of Persons with Disabilities (marked annually on 3 December), the International Labour Organization (ILO) is releasing a new publication to provide step by step guidance on how and when to provide workplace adjustments – also called accommodations – for workers with specific needs. 

Promoting diversity and inclusion through workplace adjustments: A practical guide highlights that while all workers should enjoy equal access to employment, some of them face barriers that may put them at a disadvantage. Such barriers can prevent them from accessing or remaining in employment and, if not addressed, they can also deprive companies of a broader, more diverse pool of workers from which to recruit. 

“Reasonable adjustments contribute to harnessing the full professional potential of workers and thereby to business success,” says Shauna Olney, Chief of the Gender, Equality and Diversity Branch 

While recognizing that the need for a reasonable accommodation may arise in a variety of situations, the guide focuses on four specific categories of workers: workers with disabilities, workers living with HIV, workers with family responsibilities and workers with a particular religion or belief. 

Reasonable accommodation means providing one or more modifications that are appropriate and necessary to accommodate a worker or job candidate’s individual characteristics so that he or she may enjoy the same rights as others. 

Taking effective measures for the inclusion of all workers in the workplace is essential for the promotion of equality and to ensure that the rights and protection contained in International Labour Standards are a reality for all. “This guide constitutes a great tool for those committed to the realization of this objective,” states Horacio Guido, Chief of the Application Branch of the International Labour Standards Department. 

They also point out that these adjustments can be done at little or no cost to the employer and result in concrete benefits to both the employer and the worker. 

The publication is designed to help the user understand the concept of reasonable adjustments, accompanying measures, as well as the process and steps to provide workplace adjustments throughout the employment cycle, including practical examples. 

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