THE NEW INTERNATIONAL LABOUR STANDARDS FOR THE NEXT CENTURY
The 108th Session of the International Labour Conference (ILC) which took place from 10th to 21st June, 2019 has successfully ended at the Palais de Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. The Conference involved high level presidential plenary speeches, committee meetings and thematic forums among others to mark an end to the centenary celebration of the International Labour Organization (ILO). The century spans the period May, 1919 to May, 2019.
The President of the Republic of Ghana, H.E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the French President, H.E. Emmanuel Jean-Michel Frédéric Macron, the German chancellor, Angola Merkel and the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, were among those who graced the opening plenary sessions on the first and second days of the celebration.
These important dignitaries presented very comprehensive speeches that impressed the delegates and was worth noting that their presentations were on what their respective countries were doing and planning for the future of work in the next generation. Interestingly, there was one thing that run through the comprehensive deliveries of these great personalities; the uncertainty of the future of work. They wondered, what the new future holds for workers in this era of globalization where human activity is virtually being taken over by advances in technology. Their presentations focused mostly on the lLO’s achievements for the period under review, challenges of the past centenary and their vision for the new century.
Specifically, the next Century is captured by the Global Commission Report under the theme the “Future of Work, for a brighter future.”
In line with the theme, Committees were established during the period of the celebration to deal with technical items on the conference agenda. These included the Committees on the Application of Standards at the world of work which looked at issues of compliance with labour laws, conventions and recommendations as well as violations by member states; Committee on Violence and Harassment at the world of work which focused among others on labour inspections, occupational safety and health in the world of work, abuses against the wellbeing of men and women; and Committee of the Whole which handled issues in respect of the conditions and rights of workers such as earned salaries/pay, leave, trade unionism. These were all geared toward the achievement of decent work at the global level.
The Committees were also mandated to deal with specific issues confronting the world of work. Nonetheless, the human centered approach was key in their discussions as the organization seeks to lead in finding a lasting solution to the future of work.
At the end of the day the committees were to provide recommendations and adopt procedures following the emerging trends of the future of work for the next century.
Consequently, after very hectic and thorough discussions full of arguments, it is worth noting that the ILO and its member States have currently adopted the first of its kind New International Labour Standard Convention and its accompanying Recommendation to combat violence at the world of work.
The Convention recognizes that violence and harassment at the world of work constitute human rights violations and are both unacceptable and incompatible with decent work.
The new labour standard aims at protecting workers and employers (irrespective of their contractual status) including persons in training, interns and apprentices etc. It also recognizes individuals exercising authority who can be subjected to violence and harassment.
The Violence and Harassment Convention 2019 and Recommendation 2019 were adopted by delegates on the final day of the Conference. Out of the total vote cast, 439 votes were in favour, 7 against, with 30 abstentions. The recommendation was passed with 397 votes in favour, 12 votes against and 44 abstentions. Ghana voted in favour of both the convention and recommendation.
Following this, the ILO expects its member States to commence dialogue to ratify the Convention and its Recommendation and domesticate it to suit their respective countries.
It is important to state that the Convention will enter into force 12 months after two Member States have ratified it.
Other groups that also played very significant roles were the African Group, Employers’ Group, Workers’ Group and General Governments’ Group. In addition, there were thematic forums with dignitaries discussing relevant topics on Skills Development, Elimination of Child Labour across the globe and Women Protection issues.
The Government of Ghana’s team was led by the Minister for Employment and Labour Relations, Hon. Ignatius Baffour Awuah.