International Labour Conference adds safety and health to fundamental principles and rights at work

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GENEVA, Switzerland, (ILO News) ‒ Delegates attending the International Labour Conference  (ILC) have adopted a resolution to add the principle of a safe and healthy working environment to the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.

Delegates adopted the measure at the Conference’s plenary sitting on Friday 10 June. Until now, there have been four categories of Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work:

  • Freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining;
  • The elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labour;
  • The effective abolition of child labour;
  • The elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.

The decision by the conference means that Occupational Safety and Health will become the fifth category.

The Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work were adopted in 1998 as part of the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. Under the Declaration, ILO Member States, regardless of their level of economic development, commit to respect and promote these principles and rights, whether or not they have ratified the relevant Conventions.

Each of the fundamental principles is associated with the most relevant ILO Conventions. The new fundamental Conventions will be the Occupational Safety and Health Convention, 1981 (No.155) , and the Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health Convention, 2006 (No. 187).

The Conference also approved eight amendments to the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC, 2006), which focuses on the rights and working conditions of seafarers. These amendments had been negotiated and adopted in May 2022 by seafarers’, shipowners’ and governments’ representatives during the fourth meeting (Part II) of the Special Tripartite Committee of the MLC, 2006 .

The new provisions, expected to enter into force in December 2024, will contribute to enhancing the living and working conditions of seafarers around the world, based on some of the lessons learned during the pandemic.

The ILC’s General Discussion Committee on decent work and the Social and Solidarity Economy  (SSE) adopted conclusions complemented by a resolution. The Conclusions’ 16 points include an important definition of the SSE and provide guidance on promoting the SSE within the context of decent work. The Committee also requested the ILO to develop a strategy and action plan on decent work and the social and solidarity economy, to be presented to the ILO’s governing body at its November 2022 session.

World of Work Summit

Earlier in the day, the ILC held the high-level, World of Work Summit: Tackling multiple global crises, promoting a human-centred recovery and resilience . Discussions focused on the urgent action needed to address the labour and social consequences of the current crises, and the use of human-centred approaches to support peace, resilience, and inclusive development, in particular for the most vulnerable populations.

“While the picture is bleak and the outlook uncertain, we must not lose sight of our vision for a better future of work. The hopes and dreams of millions depend on us. We cannot let them down. Together, we must deliver on our promise of a better, fairer, more inclusive, future for all,” said ILO director-general, Guy Ryder at the opening of the Summit. “We must renew our efforts to create decent work opportunities, especially for the most vulnerable groups,” he added.

In a separate segment, the summit also featured addresses by the presidents of the Republic of Seychelles, Wavel Ramkalawan, and Honduras, Iris Xiomara Castro Sarmientos. Both addressed the most pressing issues shaking up the world of work.

Speaking of the exclusion generated by the capitalist system, Castro Sarmientos emphasized the problems faced by small producers, adding “In this system of exclusion, women, girls and boys are the most affected.”

“Our message should be one of hope. Our actions and policies should present hope for our people, while we fight the scourges of corruption, exploitation and injustice,” said Ramkalawan.

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