ILO Conference ends with adoption of new Domestic Workers Convention, election of new Governing Body

The 100th meeting of the International Labour Conference ended in Geneva on Friday following the adoption of a new Convention on Domestic Workers, and the election of a new Governing Body to oversee the work of the UN agency. ITUC Deputy President Luc Cortebeeck was elected as Chair of the Workers’ Group and Vice-Chair of the Governing Body, succeeding Sir Roy Trotman, to whom the Conference paid tribute for his years of service at the ILO on behalf of working people. Australian Government representative Greg Vines was elected as Chair, and employer delegate Daniel Funes de Rioja as the other Vice-Chair.

Other major discussion points at the annual gathering included labour inspection and social protection, both issues of key concern to the international trade union movement.

The Conference decided that the ILO should adopt a Recommendation on social protection next year and agreed that social protection should be extended to all workers without exception. It recognised that extending social protection is crucial to the formalisation of informal employment, and that contributory schemes are a cornerstone of sustainable social protection systems.

On labour administration and inspection, which is weak in many countries, the Conference reiterated the importance of tripartism and social dialogue, called for sufficient resources to be devoted to labour administration and inspection services, and stated that inspection should be carried out by public authorities. It also stressed that all workers, including in the informal economy, the public sector, EPZs and migrants, should be covered by labour inspection.

The Conference also reviewed reports of countries’ implementation of ILO Conventions which they have ratified, and cited Burma, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guatemala, Swaziland and Uzbekistan in “special paragraphs” in its final report. These citations are applied to the most serious cases of countries which continually refuse to stop violating ILO standards.

The importance of tripartism and social dialogue was a common feature of the discussions on the different topics addressed by the Conference. It was also agreed that the ILO should step up its efforts to achieve coherent, employment-centred policies at the global level and that the Governing Body would have a substantive discussion on this issue in November.

“This 100th ILO Conference took place at a time when the organisation’s role is as important as at any time in history. We are looking to the ILO for strong global advocacy, reinforcement of workers’ rights and even more effective work at country-level to promote creation of decent jobs. Many government leaders used the Conference to support the role of the ILO in the current severe jobs crisis, and we expect them to match these words with action, and all other governments to meet the standards required to ensure decent work for all,” said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.