Occupational health and safety: Progress at the ILO

A significant step towards making occupational health and safety a fundamental workers’ right has been taken at the International Labour Organization (ILO) Governing Body.

At its meeting last week, governments overwhelmingly supported worker members of the Governing Body to move ahead with the process and it is expected that the decision will be formalised at the ILO Conference in 2022.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said: “We would like to have seen this year’s ILO Conference add health and safety to the list of fundamental rights, but we appreciate the support of governments for it to happen next year. This will mean greater accountability for governments and business for saving lives at work.

“It is all the more important given the terrible toll of the COVID-19 pandemic. Safe workplaces mean greater safety for workers and for the public as well. Clear evidence is emerging around the world that most Covid outbreaks are occurring in workplaces, including schools.”

Support for the people of Myanmar

Other important developments at the Governing Body meeting included:

  • agreement that the ILO will develop a Biological Hazards Convention;
  • progress in ensuring decent work in global supply chains with the ILO to carry out a ‘gap analysis’ to address governance challenges;
  • progress made in the development of a road map to secure respect for international labour standards in Bangladesh, which is rated as one of the ten worst countries for workers in the ITUC Global Rights Index.

The Governing Body also overwhelmingly expressed support for the people and workers of Myanmar as the military’s onslaught against them continues and called for the restoration of the democratically elected government.

The Workers’ Group of the Governing Body also adopted statements on Myanmarand on vaccine equity.