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Trade Union Rights May 2021

As workers around the world who have lost their lives to workplace accidents and disease are commemorated on 28 April, trade unions are pressing two key demands to save lives.

At the end of April, ITUC  was calling for two key demands to save lives.

1. Occupational health and safety must be given the status of a fundamental right by the International Labour Organization (ILO), alongside the existing fundamental rights: freedom of association, collective bargaining and protection from discrimination, forced labour and child labour. A landmark decision by the ILO Governing Body in March means this should happen at the ILO Conference in June 2022.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, was reported as saying: “This is an issue of the utmost importance and it has already taken too long to resolve. Poor workplace health and safety costs some 2.78 million lives every year.

“Making occupational health and safety a fundamental ILO right will increase the accountability of governments and employers to stop the carnage and give more leverage to unions and workplace safety representatives. Only bad employers would resist this and we are prepared to fight hard to save lives.”

2. COVID-19 must be classified as an occupational disease. This would provide enhanced protection for workers and enable access to compensation funds for families of workers who die or are infected with Covid-19 at work. Last year, global unions called on the ILO to list Covid-19 as an occupational disease and an initial ITUC survey of 58 countries shows that, so far, only 26 have taken this step. In some cases this coverage is restricted to workers in the health sector.

Sharan Burrow was reported as saying that, “most Covid-19 outbreaks happen in workplaces, including schools. Safe workplaces would play a crucial role in suppressing the spread of the pandemic.

“Access to compensation for work-related Covid-19 is especially important, in particular because it has killed many workers and can cause debilitating illness long after infection.

“While we welcome coverage of health workers, it is wrong that some countries have excluded others such as meat packing and warehouse workers who, through poor regulation and employer neglect, have seen high rates of infection.

Every worker deserves to be covered. Those countries that have failed to act must do so without further delay, and ILO listing would encourage that”.

The ITUC was also reported as  calling for a massive boost in the production of vaccines against the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19. This must include the removal of all barriers, including intellectual property and profit-gouging, to ensure that vaccines, tests, treatments and other public health tools are available to all, without discrimination.

 

Is the future ready for youth? Youth employment policies for evolving labour markets

On 3rd May, ILO News carried an interview with Sukti Dasgupta, ILO Employment Department Chief of the Employment, Labour Markets and Youth Branch, and Juan Chacaltana, Senior Employment Policies Specialist.   The interview looked at youth employment policies for changing labour markets.

 

Tourism: An opportunity to rethink the future of the industry

It was noted by ILO News on 4th May, that tourism had been among the hardest hit of all sectors by the COVID-19 pandemic. It was reported that women, youth, and workers in the informal economy were the most at risk from tourism sector job losses and business closures and that building back better from the COVID-19 pandemic represented an opportunity to rethink the future of the tourism sector, including how it contributes to the lives of 300 million workers worldwide.

ILO launches the 7th Global Media Competition on Labour Migration

Journalists are invited to submit their best stories on labour migration, especially those relating to domestic workers and the impact of COVID-19 on labour migration and fair recruitment.

On 6th May ILO News reported that the International Labour Organization (ILO) was launching its seventh annual Global Media Competition , with the aim being to recognize fair and balanced reports that contribute to the elimination of xenophobia and discrimination against migrant workers, and highlight the positive contributions migrants make to society.

It was noted that this year, judges are particularly interested in coverage of the impact of COVID-19 on labour migration and fair recruitment, including those relating to migrant care workers and that stories about migrant domestic workers will also be viewed favourably, since this year marks the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the ILO’s Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 (No. 189) .

It was also reported that the competition is open to professional and student journalists and will be judged by a panel of international migration and journalism experts. It was said that the winning entries will be selected according to a range of criteria including creativity, accuracy, balance and the positive portrayal of labour migration, with a focus on the protection of migrants.

 

 

ILO launches the 7th Global Media Competition on Labour Migration

Journalists are invited to submit their best stories on labour migration, especially those relating to domestic workers and the impact of COVID-19 on labour migration and fair recruitment.

On 6th May, ILO News reported that the International Labour Organization (ILO) was launching its seventh annual Global Media Competition . It was noted that its aim is to recognize fair and balanced reports that contribute to the elimination of xenophobia and discrimination against migrant workers, and highlight the positive contributions migrants make to society.

It was also reported that this year, judges are particularly interested in coverage of the impact of COVID-19 on labour migration and fair recruitment, including those relating to migrant care workers. Stories about migrant domestic workers will also be viewed favourably, since this year marks the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the ILO’s Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 (No. 189) .

 

 

UN leaders urge companies relying on shipping supply chains to undertake urgent measures to protect seafarers’ rights

 

UNITED NATIONS, New York, 6 May 2021  On 6th May, the ILO News reported that a wide-ranging human rights checklist had that day been issued to business enterprises engaged with the maritime industry to protect seafarers stranded on ships due to new COVID-19 variants and government-imposed travel restrictions, under a joint initiative by the UN Global Compact, the UN Human Rights Office, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

 

Colombia: Duque government must end violence against protestors

 On 5th May, the ITUC reported that it was expressing its support for the people of Colombia as they faced a brutal crackdown by the government of President Iván Duque.

It was noteds that working people in Colombia, led by an alliance of trade unions and social groups, had taken to the streets every day since 28 April against the far-right Duque government and its planned tax reform, which would deepen inequality. It was said that the scale of the demonstrations had forced the government to withdraw the bill.

It was further reported that this week the government had deployed the notorious Anti-Riot Squad (ESMAD) across the country with more than 1,089 cases of violence reported.

 

 

US administration’s support for COVID-19 vaccines’ TRIPS waiver a huge step forward

 On 6th May the ITUC reported that the announcement by the Biden administration that it would support the waiver of WTO TRIPS rules for COVID-19 vaccines was a major step towards bringing the pandemic under control.

 

The waiver, proposed by India and South Africa, was reported as having support from many other governments, but the European Union, the UK and Australia in particular had yet to agree.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, was reported as saying: “US support will hopefully break the stalemate on this vital question. All governments must stand up to the greed of pharmaceutical companies putting profits before people. The WTO TRIPS Council meeting on 8 and 9 June must be the moment to settle this matter, and in the meantime preparations to implement the waiver should be underway.”

It was noted that the TRIPS rules mean only the companies that own patents on newer vaccine technologies, such as mRNA vaccines, can make the vaccines and that this would limit the speed with which vaccines such as mRNA vaccines can be supplied.

It was also noted that richer countries had bought up these limited stocks, leaving little for poorer countries through the WHO COVAX facility. As a result, rich countries, it was said were  vaccinating a person a minute, including groups not at higher risk of death or severe disease, while most poor countries had yet to vaccinate anyone.

 

Violence in Israel and Palestine must stop

 

On 11th May the ITUC reported that it was calling for an immediate cessation of violence in Israel and Palestine, and urgent talks through the UN and the Middle East Quad to tackle the immediate causes of the violence and the underlying injustices from the Israeli occupation.

It was noted that Israeli airstrikes on Gaza had killed 24 people, including nine children and that these had been launched in retaliation for rockets fired from Gaza, which had injured more than 20 people.  It was also noted that these attacks had come after days of violence, in particular in Jerusalem, where hundreds of Palestinians had been injured in demonstrations against forced evictions of Palestinian families by the Israeli authorities so that their houses could be handed over to Israelis.

It was also reported that the planned evictions, if implemented, would constitute a gross violation of Israel’s obligations under international law.

Root cause

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, was reported as saying: “We utterly condemn the violence and in particular the loss of life in all cases. It is also heart breaking to see Palestinian families facing being thrown out of their homes to make way for Israeli settlers. Yet again, the unjust and illegal occupation of Palestinian lands, and the perpetuation of the occupation of Palestine by Israel, are the root cause.

“The only acceptable and sustainable solution is the full implementation of the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions aimed at ending the occupation, with negotiations bringing about the existence of two sovereign states: Palestine and Israel.”

It was further reported that in another development, Ashraf Al-A’war, a Secretary of the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions, had been detained on 8 May by Israeli security forces and subjected to questioning about his trade union activities until late that night. An Israeli court had then prohibited him from taking part in any trade union or political gathering for a period of one month.

“This is a completely unacceptable example of harassment of a trade union official in the course of his trade union work. It is a clear violation of ILO Convention 87 on Freedom of Association. The restriction on his trade union activities must be lifted immediately, and he should receive an apology for the mistreatment he has experienced at the hands of the Israeli security forces and the court,” added Sharan Burrow.

 

ITUC welcomes WHO independent panel report

 It was reported on 12th May by the ITUC that they welcomed the far-reaching and essential recommendations of the Independent Panel on Pandemic Preparedness and Response (IPPPR), chaired by Helen Clark and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Immediate and longer-term action was said to be  needed by revitalised multilateral institutions.

It was noted that the ITUC backs the panel’s vital and urgent call for sharing wealth, productive capacity and intellectual property. It was said that the World Trade Organization needs to enact a pandemic TRIPS waiver, and the G20 needs to provide the resources to ramp up productive capacity, vaccination and testing.

It was further reported that as well as the raft of reforms to the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended in the report, the WHO needed to rely more on the ILO to ensure that jobs and workers are protected from future pandemics, and it needs to consult with unions and employers more effectively and consistently about how to manage pandemics in, and their effect on, workplaces.

 

 

Extending social protection to the culture and creative sector

It was reported by the ILO on 13th may that the culture and creative sector is among the sectors hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. It was noted that Lockdown measures had led to the closure of theatres and cinemas, and the suspension or cancellation of movie, television and music productions. It was further noted that many workers in the industry had lost their jobs and had had no social protection to help them. A new ILO study was said to show that extending social protection to the culture and creative sector is possible.

 

109th International Labour Conference to be held virtually, opening in May

On 17th May ILO News reported that the 109th Session of the International Labour Conference would, for the first time in its history, be held virtually, reflecting changes imposed by the COVID-19 crisis.

It was also noted that in another special arrangement the ILC would open on 20 May (13:00 - Geneva time) to elect its Officers and set the Conference in motion. It was aais that the Conference would then proceed in two parts; the first in June 2021 and a second in November-December 2021.

The June sittings were said to be starting on 3 June, with meetings of the Conference committees that are expected to run for two and a half weeks.

It was then said that work in plenary will commence on 7 June and will be addressed by the President of the Swiss Confederation. The ILO’s Director-General, Guy Ryder and the Chairperson of the Governing Body will also present their reports, which will cover two years. This will be followed by the introductory statements of the Presidents of the ILC’s Employers and Workers groups.

 

Educators and the changing world of education and work

On 17th May, the ILO noted that effective lifelong learning and quality education for all was essential for a better future of work. It was noted that if teachers, trainers and support workers were to fill this need they would need to master new technologies and learning techniques and receive support to deal with their expanded responsibilities. It was further reported that representatives of governments, employers and workers were meeting at the ILO to discuss strategies for promoting quality learning and decent work in education.

 

Long working hours can increase deaths from heart disease and stroke, say ILO and WHO

It was noted by ILO News on 17th May that the number of people working long hours globally had increased over time, to an estimated 479 million workers, or nine per cent of the global population.

It was further noted that long working hours had led to 745,000 deaths from ischemic heart disease and stroke in 2016, a 29 per cent increase since 2000, according to new estimates  from the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

It was also reported that in a first global analysis of the loss of life and health from these two diseases associated with working long hours, WHO and ILO had estimated that in 2016, 398,000 people died from stroke and 347,000 from heart diseases attributable to having worked 55 or more hours per week

 

 

ILO teams with J.P Morgan to support women entrepreneurs

It was reported by ILO News on 17th May that women entrepreneurs in Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand looking to recover from the pandemic and build long-term business resilience could receive support through a new initiative launched by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and JPMorgan Chase Foundation.

 

 

COVID-19: 98% of world’s workers not getting the basic support they need

 On 18th May, ITUC reported that a new global study from the ITUC and UNI Global Union had found that 98% of the world’s workers were not getting the sick pay, wage replacement and social benefits they need to address the challenges of COVID-19.

It was further reported that this ground-breaking global analysis ranked 181 governmental responses to the pandemic and places Argentina at the top. It was also noted that just over half of the governments in the study recognise Covid-19 as an occupational disease through a formal regulatory process.

 

First ever virtual International Labour Conference opens

For the first time in its history the International Labour Conference is taking place online and will be divided into two segments during the course of the year.

 

On 20th May, ILO News reported that the 109th International Labour Conference  (ILC) had opened, the first to take place virtually due to restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was noted that Omar Zniber, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Morocco to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva, had been elected President of the Conference in its opening session, on 20 May 2021 and that he described his election as “a source of pride” for his country and the African region.

He was quoted as saying: “As it is often said, the International Labour Conference is the global parliament of labour, affording governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations of Member States a unique opportunity to hold tripartite discussions about social and labour issues, as well as matters related to the world of work”.

“This year, our Conference takes on a special format and is particularly significant, in view of its deferral last year for reasons we all know too well. Needless to say, high expectations have been placed in the work we will undertake over the next few weeks, and at the resumption of our session, later this year. I shall do my best, together with my Vice-Presidents, to guide our work in that spirit, and will spare no effort to ensure that this Conference is a success for all.”

 

ILO, Viet Nam join force to promote international labour standards and decent work for all

Viet Nam plans to ratify 15 more ILO Conventions, including a core convention on freedom of association, during the 2021-30 period.

It was reported by the ILO on 20th May that the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Vietnamese Government had signed a Memorandum of Understanding to push the promotion of international labour standards in Viet Nam over the next 10 years.

It was noted that the document for the 2021-30 period had been signed on 20 May 2021 in Hanoi by representatives of ILO Viet Nam and the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA).

It was also noted that both sides had agreed to work together to promote the ratification and implementation of international labour standards in Viet Nam through a cooperation framework between the MOLISA and ILO Viet Nam, and ensure the participation of representatives of workers and employers in the entire process.

 

ILO to release new analysis of labour market and social trends

 On 21st May ILO News reported that the International Labour Organization (ILO) would publish a new edition of its World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2021 (WESO Trends), which looks at the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global labour market and the prospects for recovery.

It was noted that the WESO Trends and accompanying press release would be published on Thursday 27 May 2021. It was also noted that it covers the extent and consequences of the labour market disruption caused by the crisis, including the effects on inequality, working poverty and youth employment and also outlines principles for a comprehensive and human-centred recovery strategy.

 

 

Help educators now so they can help build a better future of work, says ILO

ILO News reported on 24th May that education workers needed more support if they were to provide the additional learning needed for building a more resilient and sustainable recovery from the pandemic.

It was also noted that there was an urgent need to invest in education and in training and decent work for education workers, so they could contribute to the post-COVID-19 recovery, according to delegates at an ILO technical meeting on the future of work in the education sector .

It was further reported that effective lifelong learning and quality education for all were essential for a better future of work. It was said that if teachers, trainers and support workers were to fill this need and pave the way to address the challenges that lie ahead, they would need to master new technologies and learning techniques, understand the skills’ needs of the labour market and receive support to deal with their expanded responsibilities.

 

 

New legislation in Qatar provides greater protection to workers from heat stress

Prohibited summertime working hours expanded by six weeks and annual health checks for workers introduced.

On 26th May, ILO News reported that as temperatures began to soar across the Gulf region, Qatar had adopted new rules providing further protection to workers from heat stress.

It was noted that a Ministerial Decision announced on 26 May 2021 has introduced a significant expansion of summertime working hours during which outdoor work is prohibited.

It was further noted that under the new rules which came into force immediately, workers cannot work outside between 10:00 and 15:30 from 1 June to 15 September. This, it was said has replaced legislation from 2007, that had prohibited work in outdoor workspaces from 11:30 to 15:00, between 15 June and 31 August.

It also reported that in addition, regardless of the time, all work must stop if the wet-bulb globe temperature (WBGT) rises beyond 32.1 °C in a particular workplace. The WBGT index it was said, takes into consideration ambient temperature, humidity, solar radiation and wind speed.

 

Tokyo Olympics: IOC must review COVID-19 protocols with players’ unions and experts

The ITUC reported on 27th May that they were calling for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to fix the deeply flawed COVID-19 protocols it has published for the Tokyo Olympics, through engagement with sports players’ unions and pandemic experts.

It was also noted that an article published on 25 May in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine reveals major deficits in the IOC plans, which expose athletes, workers, volunteers and potentially people in athletes’ home countries to avoidable risk of infection.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, was reported as saying: “An event that would bring together people from virtually every country in the world when the global pandemic is raging could only be envisaged on the basis of the most up-to-date scientific knowledge. This is not the case with the IOC’s ‘Playbook’ for the Tokyo Olympics.

“Best-practice occupational health and safety standards on ventilation, testing, sharing accommodation, prevention of transmission and other vital protections are not included in the IOC’s plans. Participation in the Olympics is the summit of their sporting experience for many thousands of athletes, and everyone involved in the Games deserves the maximum protection, not arrangements that cut corners and expose people to risks that can be prevented and avoided.”

 

Saudi Arabia reinforces its commitment to eradicate forced labour in all its forms

Saudi Arabia ratifies the Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention

 

On 27th May ILO News reported that the previous day, Saudi Arabia had deposited the instrument of ratification of the Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 , so becoming the fifty-second country worldwide and the first among members of the Gulf Cooperation Council to ratify this instrument. It was noted that with this ratification, Saudi Arabia was demonstrating its firm commitment to combating forced labour in all its forms, including human trafficking.

It was also noted that having been overwhelmingly adopted during the 2014 International Labour Conference, the Protocol reinforces the international legal framework for combating forced labour. It was said that it commits States to take effective measures to prevent forced labour, sanction its perpetrators, and protect its victims and ensure their access to justice and remedies.

It was further reported that according to the latest global estimates , there are still 25 million men, women and children trapped in forced labour.   The ILO  has recently highlighted that the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the risk of the most vulnerable workers, including migrant workers, to get tricked and trapped in forced labour. The risk of increasing debt bondage is particularly important.

 

 

 

Iraq ratifies Convention No. 184 and Convention No. 185

ILO News reported on 27th May that on 21 May 2021, His Excellency Ambassador Abdul Karim Hashim Mostafa, Permanent Representative of Iraq had presented the instruments of ratification for the Safety and Health in Agriculture Convention, 2001 (No. 184)  and the Seafarers' Identity Documents Convention (Revised), 2003, as amended (No. 185)  to the ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder.

It was noted that the ILO Director-General Guy Ryder had welcomed the ratifications, stating “With these ratifications, Iraq has re-affirmed its commitment to decent work and the ILO’s standards system, during this time of crisis.”  Upon receipt of the instrument of ratification of Convention No. 184, he stated “I am pleased to welcome Iraq’s formal commitment to improving occupational safety and health in the agricultural sector, in consultation with the social partners. Agriculture is one of the most hazardous economic sectors in the world. By ratifying Convention No. 184, the Government of Iraq confirms its determination to prevent accidents and occupational diseases in this sector in a continuous and sustainable manner. This is the 10th occupational safety and health Convention ratified by Iraq - I welcome this significant step towards building and strengthening a preventative safety and health culture.” Furthet o this, turning to Convention No. 185, Mr Ryder had indicated “It is with great pleasure that I welcome Iraq among the States parties to Convention No. 185. This ratification strengthens Iraq’s commitment to ensuring decent working and living conditions for seafarers by facilitating their rights to shore leave, transit and transfer. The vital importance of these elements for seafarers’ general well-being has clearly been exposed during the crisis currently faced by the maritime sector as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

 

 

 

Tokyo Olympics: IOC must review COVID-19 protocols with players’ unions and experts

On 27th the ITUC reported that they were calling for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to fix the deeply flawed COVID-19 protocols it had published for the Tokyo Olympics, through engagement with sports players’ unions and pandemic experts.

It was argued that an article published on 25 May in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine revealed major deficits in the IOC plans, which expose athletes, workers, volunteers and potentially people in athletes’ home countries to avoidable risk of infection.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, was reported as saying: “An event that would bring together people from virtually every country in the world when the global pandemic is raging could only be envisaged on the basis of the most up-to-date scientific knowledge. This is not the case with the IOC’s ‘Playbook’ for the Tokyo Olympics.

“Best-practice occupational health and safety standards on ventilation, testing, sharing accommodation, prevention of transmission and other vital protections are not included in the IOC’s plans. Participation in the Olympics is the summit of their sporting experience for many thousands of athletes, and everyone involved in the Games deserves the maximum protection, not arrangements that cut corners and expose people to risks that can be prevented and avoided.”

 

Hong Kong: Lee Cheuk Yan given further jail sentence for pro-democracy protest

On 28th May, it was reported by the ITUC that Lee Cheuk Yan, General Secretary of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, had been sentenced to 18 months in prison for ‘inciting, organising and participating in an unauthorised assembly’ on 1 October 2019.

 

It was noted that this was in addition to an 18 month sentence he received in April 2021 for another pro-democracy event in August 2019.

It was further reported that Lee Cheuk Yan will serve the two sentences concurrently. Taking into account time already served, he will be imprisoned for 20 months in total.

‘The movement will continue’

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, was reported as saying: “The international trade union movement stands with Lee Cheuk Yan and Hong Kong’s democracy movement throughout this difficult time.

“Beijing’s strong-arm regime must realise that they will not crush the working people of Hong Kong. Their wish for democracy will not end and the movement will continue with global support.”

 

Peter Sagar, A Living Tradition CIC

As workers around the world who have lost their lives to workplace accidents and disease are commemorated on 28 April, trade unions are pressing two key demands to save lives.

At the end of April, ITUC  was calling for two key demands to save lives.

1. Occupational health and safety must be given the status of a fundamental right by the International Labour Organization (ILO), alongside the existing fundamental rights: freedom of association, collective bargaining and protection from discrimination, forced labour and child labour. A landmark decision by the ILO Governing Body in March means this should happen at the ILO Conference in June 2022.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, was reported as saying: “This is an issue of the utmost importance and it has already taken too long to resolve. Poor workplace health and safety costs some 2.78 million lives every year.

“Making occupational health and safety a fundamental ILO right will increase the accountability of governments and employers to stop the carnage and give more leverage to unions and workplace safety representatives. Only bad employers would resist this and we are prepared to fight hard to save lives.”

2. COVID-19 must be classified as an occupational disease. This would provide enhanced protection for workers and enable access to compensation funds for families of workers who die or are infected with Covid-19 at work. Last year, global unions called on the ILO to list Covid-19 as an occupational disease and an initial ITUC survey of 58 countries shows that, so far, only 26 have taken this step. In some cases this coverage is restricted to workers in the health sector.

Sharan Burrow was reported as saying that, “most Covid-19 outbreaks happen in workplaces, including schools. Safe workplaces would play a crucial role in suppressing the spread of the pandemic.

“Access to compensation for work-related Covid-19 is especially important, in particular because it has killed many workers and can cause debilitating illness long after infection.

“While we welcome coverage of health workers, it is wrong that some countries have excluded others such as meat packing and warehouse workers who, through poor regulation and employer neglect, have seen high rates of infection.

Every worker deserves to be covered. Those countries that have failed to act must do so without further delay, and ILO listing would encourage that”.

The ITUC was also reported as  calling for a massive boost in the production of vaccines against the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19. This must include the removal of all barriers, including intellectual property and profit-gouging, to ensure that vaccines, tests, treatments and other public health tools are available to all, without discrimination.

 

Is the future ready for youth? Youth employment policies for evolving labour markets

On 3rd May, ILO News carried an interview with Sukti Dasgupta, ILO Employment Department Chief of the Employment, Labour Markets and Youth Branch, and Juan Chacaltana, Senior Employment Policies Specialist.   The interview looked at youth employment policies for changing labour markets.

 

Tourism: An opportunity to rethink the future of the industry

It was noted by ILO News on 4th May, that tourism had been among the hardest hit of all sectors by the COVID-19 pandemic. It was reported that women, youth, and workers in the informal economy were the most at risk from tourism sector job losses and business closures and that building back better from the COVID-19 pandemic represented an opportunity to rethink the future of the tourism sector, including how it contributes to the lives of 300 million workers worldwide.

ILO launches the 7th Global Media Competition on Labour Migration

Journalists are invited to submit their best stories on labour migration, especially those relating to domestic workers and the impact of COVID-19 on labour migration and fair recruitment.

On 6th May ILO News reported that the International Labour Organization (ILO) was launching its seventh annual Global Media Competition , with the aim being to recognize fair and balanced reports that contribute to the elimination of xenophobia and discrimination against migrant workers, and highlight the positive contributions migrants make to society.

It was noted that this year, judges are particularly interested in coverage of the impact of COVID-19 on labour migration and fair recruitment, including those relating to migrant care workers and that stories about migrant domestic workers will also be viewed favourably, since this year marks the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the ILO’s Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 (No. 189) .

It was also reported that the competition is open to professional and student journalists and will be judged by a panel of international migration and journalism experts. It was said that the winning entries will be selected according to a range of criteria including creativity, accuracy, balance and the positive portrayal of labour migration, with a focus on the protection of migrants.

 

 

ILO launches the 7th Global Media Competition on Labour Migration

Journalists are invited to submit their best stories on labour migration, especially those relating to domestic workers and the impact of COVID-19 on labour migration and fair recruitment.

On 6th May, ILO News reported that the International Labour Organization (ILO) was launching its seventh annual Global Media Competition . It was noted that its aim is to recognize fair and balanced reports that contribute to the elimination of xenophobia and discrimination against migrant workers, and highlight the positive contributions migrants make to society.

It was also reported that this year, judges are particularly interested in coverage of the impact of COVID-19 on labour migration and fair recruitment, including those relating to migrant care workers. Stories about migrant domestic workers will also be viewed favourably, since this year marks the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the ILO’s Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 (No. 189) .

 

 

UN leaders urge companies relying on shipping supply chains to undertake urgent measures to protect seafarers’ rights

 

UNITED NATIONS, New York, 6 May 2021  On 6th May, the ILO News reported that a wide-ranging human rights checklist had that day been issued to business enterprises engaged with the maritime industry to protect seafarers stranded on ships due to new COVID-19 variants and government-imposed travel restrictions, under a joint initiative by the UN Global Compact, the UN Human Rights Office, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

 

Colombia: Duque government must end violence against protestors

 On 5th May, the ITUC reported that it was expressing its support for the people of Colombia as they faced a brutal crackdown by the government of President Iván Duque.

It was noteds that working people in Colombia, led by an alliance of trade unions and social groups, had taken to the streets every day since 28 April against the far-right Duque government and its planned tax reform, which would deepen inequality. It was said that the scale of the demonstrations had forced the government to withdraw the bill.

It was further reported that this week the government had deployed the notorious Anti-Riot Squad (ESMAD) across the country with more than 1,089 cases of violence reported.

 

 

US administration’s support for COVID-19 vaccines’ TRIPS waiver a huge step forward

 On 6th May the ITUC reported that the announcement by the Biden administration that it would support the waiver of WTO TRIPS rules for COVID-19 vaccines was a major step towards bringing the pandemic under control.

 

The waiver, proposed by India and South Africa, was reported as having support from many other governments, but the European Union, the UK and Australia in particular had yet to agree.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, was reported as saying: “US support will hopefully break the stalemate on this vital question. All governments must stand up to the greed of pharmaceutical companies putting profits before people. The WTO TRIPS Council meeting on 8 and 9 June must be the moment to settle this matter, and in the meantime preparations to implement the waiver should be underway.”

It was noted that the TRIPS rules mean only the companies that own patents on newer vaccine technologies, such as mRNA vaccines, can make the vaccines and that this would limit the speed with which vaccines such as mRNA vaccines can be supplied.

It was also noted that richer countries had bought up these limited stocks, leaving little for poorer countries through the WHO COVAX facility. As a result, rich countries, it was said were  vaccinating a person a minute, including groups not at higher risk of death or severe disease, while most poor countries had yet to vaccinate anyone.

 

Violence in Israel and Palestine must stop

 

On 11th May the ITUC reported that it was calling for an immediate cessation of violence in Israel and Palestine, and urgent talks through the UN and the Middle East Quad to tackle the immediate causes of the violence and the underlying injustices from the Israeli occupation.

It was noted that Israeli airstrikes on Gaza had killed 24 people, including nine children and that these had been launched in retaliation for rockets fired from Gaza, which had injured more than 20 people.  It was also noted that these attacks had come after days of violence, in particular in Jerusalem, where hundreds of Palestinians had been injured in demonstrations against forced evictions of Palestinian families by the Israeli authorities so that their houses could be handed over to Israelis.

It was also reported that the planned evictions, if implemented, would constitute a gross violation of Israel’s obligations under international law.

Root cause

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, was reported as saying: “We utterly condemn the violence and in particular the loss of life in all cases. It is also heart breaking to see Palestinian families facing being thrown out of their homes to make way for Israeli settlers. Yet again, the unjust and illegal occupation of Palestinian lands, and the perpetuation of the occupation of Palestine by Israel, are the root cause.

“The only acceptable and sustainable solution is the full implementation of the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions aimed at ending the occupation, with negotiations bringing about the existence of two sovereign states: Palestine and Israel.”

It was further reported that in another development, Ashraf Al-A’war, a Secretary of the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions, had been detained on 8 May by Israeli security forces and subjected to questioning about his trade union activities until late that night. An Israeli court had then prohibited him from taking part in any trade union or political gathering for a period of one month.

“This is a completely unacceptable example of harassment of a trade union official in the course of his trade union work. It is a clear violation of ILO Convention 87 on Freedom of Association. The restriction on his trade union activities must be lifted immediately, and he should receive an apology for the mistreatment he has experienced at the hands of the Israeli security forces and the court,” added Sharan Burrow.

 

ITUC welcomes WHO independent panel report

 It was reported on 12th May by the ITUC that they welcomed the far-reaching and essential recommendations of the Independent Panel on Pandemic Preparedness and Response (IPPPR), chaired by Helen Clark and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Immediate and longer-term action was said to be  needed by revitalised multilateral institutions.

It was noted that the ITUC backs the panel’s vital and urgent call for sharing wealth, productive capacity and intellectual property. It was said that the World Trade Organization needs to enact a pandemic TRIPS waiver, and the G20 needs to provide the resources to ramp up productive capacity, vaccination and testing.

It was further reported that as well as the raft of reforms to the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended in the report, the WHO needed to rely more on the ILO to ensure that jobs and workers are protected from future pandemics, and it needs to consult with unions and employers more effectively and consistently about how to manage pandemics in, and their effect on, workplaces.

 

 

Extending social protection to the culture and creative sector

It was reported by the ILO on 13th may that the culture and creative sector is among the sectors hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. It was noted that Lockdown measures had led to the closure of theatres and cinemas, and the suspension or cancellation of movie, television and music productions. It was further noted that many workers in the industry had lost their jobs and had had no social protection to help them. A new ILO study was said to show that extending social protection to the culture and creative sector is possible.

 

109th International Labour Conference to be held virtually, opening in May

On 17th May ILO News reported that the 109th Session of the International Labour Conference would, for the first time in its history, be held virtually, reflecting changes imposed by the COVID-19 crisis.

It was also noted that in another special arrangement the ILC would open on 20 May (13:00 - Geneva time) to elect its Officers and set the Conference in motion. It was aais that the Conference would then proceed in two parts; the first in June 2021 and a second in November-December 2021.

The June sittings were said to be starting on 3 June, with meetings of the Conference committees that are expected to run for two and a half weeks.

It was then said that work in plenary will commence on 7 June and will be addressed by the President of the Swiss Confederation. The ILO’s Director-General, Guy Ryder and the Chairperson of the Governing Body will also present their reports, which will cover two years. This will be followed by the introductory statements of the Presidents of the ILC’s Employers and Workers groups.

 

Educators and the changing world of education and work

On 17th May, the ILO noted that effective lifelong learning and quality education for all was essential for a better future of work. It was noted that if teachers, trainers and support workers were to fill this need they would need to master new technologies and learning techniques and receive support to deal with their expanded responsibilities. It was further reported that representatives of governments, employers and workers were meeting at the ILO to discuss strategies for promoting quality learning and decent work in education.

 

Long working hours can increase deaths from heart disease and stroke, say ILO and WHO

It was noted by ILO News on 17th May that the number of people working long hours globally had increased over time, to an estimated 479 million workers, or nine per cent of the global population.

It was further noted that long working hours had led to 745,000 deaths from ischemic heart disease and stroke in 2016, a 29 per cent increase since 2000, according to new estimates  from the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

It was also reported that in a first global analysis of the loss of life and health from these two diseases associated with working long hours, WHO and ILO had estimated that in 2016, 398,000 people died from stroke and 347,000 from heart diseases attributable to having worked 55 or more hours per week

 

 

ILO teams with J.P Morgan to support women entrepreneurs

It was reported by ILO News on 17th May that women entrepreneurs in Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand looking to recover from the pandemic and build long-term business resilience could receive support through a new initiative launched by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and JPMorgan Chase Foundation.

 

 

COVID-19: 98% of world’s workers not getting the basic support they need

 On 18th May, ITUC reported that a new global study from the ITUC and UNI Global Union had found that 98% of the world’s workers were not getting the sick pay, wage replacement and social benefits they need to address the challenges of COVID-19.

It was further reported that this ground-breaking global analysis ranked 181 governmental responses to the pandemic and places Argentina at the top. It was also noted that just over half of the governments in the study recognise Covid-19 as an occupational disease through a formal regulatory process.

 

First ever virtual International Labour Conference opens

For the first time in its history the International Labour Conference is taking place online and will be divided into two segments during the course of the year.

 

On 20th May, ILO News reported that the 109th International Labour Conference  (ILC) had opened, the first to take place virtually due to restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was noted that Omar Zniber, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Morocco to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva, had been elected President of the Conference in its opening session, on 20 May 2021 and that he described his election as “a source of pride” for his country and the African region.

He was quoted as saying: “As it is often said, the International Labour Conference is the global parliament of labour, affording governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations of Member States a unique opportunity to hold tripartite discussions about social and labour issues, as well as matters related to the world of work”.

“This year, our Conference takes on a special format and is particularly significant, in view of its deferral last year for reasons we all know too well. Needless to say, high expectations have been placed in the work we will undertake over the next few weeks, and at the resumption of our session, later this year. I shall do my best, together with my Vice-Presidents, to guide our work in that spirit, and will spare no effort to ensure that this Conference is a success for all.”

 

ILO, Viet Nam join force to promote international labour standards and decent work for all

Viet Nam plans to ratify 15 more ILO Conventions, including a core convention on freedom of association, during the 2021-30 period.

It was reported by the ILO on 20th May that the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Vietnamese Government had signed a Memorandum of Understanding to push the promotion of international labour standards in Viet Nam over the next 10 years.

It was noted that the document for the 2021-30 period had been signed on 20 May 2021 in Hanoi by representatives of ILO Viet Nam and the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA).

It was also noted that both sides had agreed to work together to promote the ratification and implementation of international labour standards in Viet Nam through a cooperation framework between the MOLISA and ILO Viet Nam, and ensure the participation of representatives of workers and employers in the entire process.

 

ILO to release new analysis of labour market and social trends

 On 21st May ILO News reported that the International Labour Organization (ILO) would publish a new edition of its World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2021 (WESO Trends), which looks at the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global labour market and the prospects for recovery.

It was noted that the WESO Trends and accompanying press release would be published on Thursday 27 May 2021. It was also noted that it covers the extent and consequences of the labour market disruption caused by the crisis, including the effects on inequality, working poverty and youth employment and also outlines principles for a comprehensive and human-centred recovery strategy.

 

 

Help educators now so they can help build a better future of work, says ILO

ILO News reported on 24th May that education workers needed more support if they were to provide the additional learning needed for building a more resilient and sustainable recovery from the pandemic.

It was also noted that there was an urgent need to invest in education and in training and decent work for education workers, so they could contribute to the post-COVID-19 recovery, according to delegates at an ILO technical meeting on the future of work in the education sector .

It was further reported that effective lifelong learning and quality education for all were essential for a better future of work. It was said that if teachers, trainers and support workers were to fill this need and pave the way to address the challenges that lie ahead, they would need to master new technologies and learning techniques, understand the skills’ needs of the labour market and receive support to deal with their expanded responsibilities.

 

 

New legislation in Qatar provides greater protection to workers from heat stress

Prohibited summertime working hours expanded by six weeks and annual health checks for workers introduced.

On 26th May, ILO News reported that as temperatures began to soar across the Gulf region, Qatar had adopted new rules providing further protection to workers from heat stress.

It was noted that a Ministerial Decision announced on 26 May 2021 has introduced a significant expansion of summertime working hours during which outdoor work is prohibited.

It was further noted that under the new rules which came into force immediately, workers cannot work outside between 10:00 and 15:30 from 1 June to 15 September. This, it was said has replaced legislation from 2007, that had prohibited work in outdoor workspaces from 11:30 to 15:00, between 15 June and 31 August.

It also reported that in addition, regardless of the time, all work must stop if the wet-bulb globe temperature (WBGT) rises beyond 32.1 °C in a particular workplace. The WBGT index it was said, takes into consideration ambient temperature, humidity, solar radiation and wind speed.

 

Tokyo Olympics: IOC must review COVID-19 protocols with players’ unions and experts

The ITUC reported on 27th May that they were calling for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to fix the deeply flawed COVID-19 protocols it has published for the Tokyo Olympics, through engagement with sports players’ unions and pandemic experts.

It was also noted that an article published on 25 May in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine reveals major deficits in the IOC plans, which expose athletes, workers, volunteers and potentially people in athletes’ home countries to avoidable risk of infection.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, was reported as saying: “An event that would bring together people from virtually every country in the world when the global pandemic is raging could only be envisaged on the basis of the most up-to-date scientific knowledge. This is not the case with the IOC’s ‘Playbook’ for the Tokyo Olympics.

“Best-practice occupational health and safety standards on ventilation, testing, sharing accommodation, prevention of transmission and other vital protections are not included in the IOC’s plans. Participation in the Olympics is the summit of their sporting experience for many thousands of athletes, and everyone involved in the Games deserves the maximum protection, not arrangements that cut corners and expose people to risks that can be prevented and avoided.”

 

Saudi Arabia reinforces its commitment to eradicate forced labour in all its forms

Saudi Arabia ratifies the Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention

 

On 27th May ILO News reported that the previous day, Saudi Arabia had deposited the instrument of ratification of the Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 , so becoming the fifty-second country worldwide and the first among members of the Gulf Cooperation Council to ratify this instrument. It was noted that with this ratification, Saudi Arabia was demonstrating its firm commitment to combating forced labour in all its forms, including human trafficking.

It was also noted that having been overwhelmingly adopted during the 2014 International Labour Conference, the Protocol reinforces the international legal framework for combating forced labour. It was said that it commits States to take effective measures to prevent forced labour, sanction its perpetrators, and protect its victims and ensure their access to justice and remedies.

It was further reported that according to the latest global estimates , there are still 25 million men, women and children trapped in forced labour.   The ILO  has recently highlighted that the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the risk of the most vulnerable workers, including migrant workers, to get tricked and trapped in forced labour. The risk of increasing debt bondage is particularly important.

 

 

 

Iraq ratifies Convention No. 184 and Convention No. 185

ILO News reported on 27th May that on 21 May 2021, His Excellency Ambassador Abdul Karim Hashim Mostafa, Permanent Representative of Iraq had presented the instruments of ratification for the Safety and Health in Agriculture Convention, 2001 (No. 184)  and the Seafarers' Identity Documents Convention (Revised), 2003, as amended (No. 185)  to the ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder.

It was noted that the ILO Director-General Guy Ryder had welcomed the ratifications, stating “With these ratifications, Iraq has re-affirmed its commitment to decent work and the ILO’s standards system, during this time of crisis.”  Upon receipt of the instrument of ratification of Convention No. 184, he stated “I am pleased to welcome Iraq’s formal commitment to improving occupational safety and health in the agricultural sector, in consultation with the social partners. Agriculture is one of the most hazardous economic sectors in the world. By ratifying Convention No. 184, the Government of Iraq confirms its determination to prevent accidents and occupational diseases in this sector in a continuous and sustainable manner. This is the 10th occupational safety and health Convention ratified by Iraq - I welcome this significant step towards building and strengthening a preventative safety and health culture.” Furthet o this, turning to Convention No. 185, Mr Ryder had indicated “It is with great pleasure that I welcome Iraq among the States parties to Convention No. 185. This ratification strengthens Iraq’s commitment to ensuring decent working and living conditions for seafarers by facilitating their rights to shore leave, transit and transfer. The vital importance of these elements for seafarers’ general well-being has clearly been exposed during the crisis currently faced by the maritime sector as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

 

 

 

Tokyo Olympics: IOC must review COVID-19 protocols with players’ unions and experts

On 27th the ITUC reported that they were calling for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to fix the deeply flawed COVID-19 protocols it had published for the Tokyo Olympics, through engagement with sports players’ unions and pandemic experts.

It was argued that an article published on 25 May in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine revealed major deficits in the IOC plans, which expose athletes, workers, volunteers and potentially people in athletes’ home countries to avoidable risk of infection.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, was reported as saying: “An event that would bring together people from virtually every country in the world when the global pandemic is raging could only be envisaged on the basis of the most up-to-date scientific knowledge. This is not the case with the IOC’s ‘Playbook’ for the Tokyo Olympics.

“Best-practice occupational health and safety standards on ventilation, testing, sharing accommodation, prevention of transmission and other vital protections are not included in the IOC’s plans. Participation in the Olympics is the summit of their sporting experience for many thousands of athletes, and everyone involved in the Games deserves the maximum protection, not arrangements that cut corners and expose people to risks that can be prevented and avoided.”

 

Hong Kong: Lee Cheuk Yan given further jail sentence for pro-democracy protest

On 28th May, it was reported by the ITUC that Lee Cheuk Yan, General Secretary of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, had been sentenced to 18 months in prison for ‘inciting, organising and participating in an unauthorised assembly’ on 1 October 2019.

 

It was noted that this was in addition to an 18 month sentence he received in April 2021 for another pro-democracy event in August 2019.

It was further reported that Lee Cheuk Yan will serve the two sentences concurrently. Taking into account time already served, he will be imprisoned for 20 months in total.

‘The movement will continue’

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, was reported as saying: “The international trade union movement stands with Lee Cheuk Yan and Hong Kong’s democracy movement throughout this difficult time.

“Beijing’s strong-arm regime must realise that they will not crush the working people of Hong Kong. Their wish for democracy will not end and the movement will continue with global support.”

 

Peter Sagar, A Living Tradition CIC

As workers around the world who have lost their lives to workplace accidents and disease are commemorated on 28 April, trade unions are pressing two key demands to save lives.

At the end of April, ITUC  was calling for two key demands to save lives.

1. Occupational health and safety must be given the status of a fundamental right by the International Labour Organization (ILO), alongside the existing fundamental rights: freedom of association, collective bargaining and protection from discrimination, forced labour and child labour. A landmark decision by the ILO Governing Body in March means this should happen at the ILO Conference in June 2022.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, was reported as saying: “This is an issue of the utmost importance and it has already taken too long to resolve. Poor workplace health and safety costs some 2.78 million lives every year.

“Making occupational health and safety a fundamental ILO right will increase the accountability of governments and employers to stop the carnage and give more leverage to unions and workplace safety representatives. Only bad employers would resist this and we are prepared to fight hard to save lives.”

2. COVID-19 must be classified as an occupational disease. This would provide enhanced protection for workers and enable access to compensation funds for families of workers who die or are infected with Covid-19 at work. Last year, global unions called on the ILO to list Covid-19 as an occupational disease and an initial ITUC survey of 58 countries shows that, so far, only 26 have taken this step. In some cases this coverage is restricted to workers in the health sector.

Sharan Burrow was reported as saying that, “most Covid-19 outbreaks happen in workplaces, including schools. Safe workplaces would play a crucial role in suppressing the spread of the pandemic.

“Access to compensation for work-related Covid-19 is especially important, in particular because it has killed many workers and can cause debilitating illness long after infection.

“While we welcome coverage of health workers, it is wrong that some countries have excluded others such as meat packing and warehouse workers who, through poor regulation and employer neglect, have seen high rates of infection.

Every worker deserves to be covered. Those countries that have failed to act must do so without further delay, and ILO listing would encourage that”.

The ITUC was also reported as  calling for a massive boost in the production of vaccines against the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19. This must include the removal of all barriers, including intellectual property and profit-gouging, to ensure that vaccines, tests, treatments and other public health tools are available to all, without discrimination.

 

Is the future ready for youth? Youth employment policies for evolving labour markets

On 3rd May, ILO News carried an interview with Sukti Dasgupta, ILO Employment Department Chief of the Employment, Labour Markets and Youth Branch, and Juan Chacaltana, Senior Employment Policies Specialist.   The interview looked at youth employment policies for changing labour markets.

 

Tourism: An opportunity to rethink the future of the industry

It was noted by ILO News on 4th May, that tourism had been among the hardest hit of all sectors by the COVID-19 pandemic. It was reported that women, youth, and workers in the informal economy were the most at risk from tourism sector job losses and business closures and that building back better from the COVID-19 pandemic represented an opportunity to rethink the future of the tourism sector, including how it contributes to the lives of 300 million workers worldwide.

ILO launches the 7th Global Media Competition on Labour Migration

Journalists are invited to submit their best stories on labour migration, especially those relating to domestic workers and the impact of COVID-19 on labour migration and fair recruitment.

On 6th May ILO News reported that the International Labour Organization (ILO) was launching its seventh annual Global Media Competition , with the aim being to recognize fair and balanced reports that contribute to the elimination of xenophobia and discrimination against migrant workers, and highlight the positive contributions migrants make to society.

It was noted that this year, judges are particularly interested in coverage of the impact of COVID-19 on labour migration and fair recruitment, including those relating to migrant care workers and that stories about migrant domestic workers will also be viewed favourably, since this year marks the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the ILO’s Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 (No. 189) .

It was also reported that the competition is open to professional and student journalists and will be judged by a panel of international migration and journalism experts. It was said that the winning entries will be selected according to a range of criteria including creativity, accuracy, balance and the positive portrayal of labour migration, with a focus on the protection of migrants.

 

 

ILO launches the 7th Global Media Competition on Labour Migration

Journalists are invited to submit their best stories on labour migration, especially those relating to domestic workers and the impact of COVID-19 on labour migration and fair recruitment.

On 6th May, ILO News reported that the International Labour Organization (ILO) was launching its seventh annual Global Media Competition . It was noted that its aim is to recognize fair and balanced reports that contribute to the elimination of xenophobia and discrimination against migrant workers, and highlight the positive contributions migrants make to society.

It was also reported that this year, judges are particularly interested in coverage of the impact of COVID-19 on labour migration and fair recruitment, including those relating to migrant care workers. Stories about migrant domestic workers will also be viewed favourably, since this year marks the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the ILO’s Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 (No. 189) .

 

 

UN leaders urge companies relying on shipping supply chains to undertake urgent measures to protect seafarers’ rights

 

UNITED NATIONS, New York, 6 May 2021  On 6th May, the ILO News reported that a wide-ranging human rights checklist had that day been issued to business enterprises engaged with the maritime industry to protect seafarers stranded on ships due to new COVID-19 variants and government-imposed travel restrictions, under a joint initiative by the UN Global Compact, the UN Human Rights Office, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

 

Colombia: Duque government must end violence against protestors

 On 5th May, the ITUC reported that it was expressing its support for the people of Colombia as they faced a brutal crackdown by the government of President Iván Duque.

It was noteds that working people in Colombia, led by an alliance of trade unions and social groups, had taken to the streets every day since 28 April against the far-right Duque government and its planned tax reform, which would deepen inequality. It was said that the scale of the demonstrations had forced the government to withdraw the bill.

It was further reported that this week the government had deployed the notorious Anti-Riot Squad (ESMAD) across the country with more than 1,089 cases of violence reported.

 

 

US administration’s support for COVID-19 vaccines’ TRIPS waiver a huge step forward

 On 6th May the ITUC reported that the announcement by the Biden administration that it would support the waiver of WTO TRIPS rules for COVID-19 vaccines was a major step towards bringing the pandemic under control.

 

The waiver, proposed by India and South Africa, was reported as having support from many other governments, but the European Union, the UK and Australia in particular had yet to agree.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, was reported as saying: “US support will hopefully break the stalemate on this vital question. All governments must stand up to the greed of pharmaceutical companies putting profits before people. The WTO TRIPS Council meeting on 8 and 9 June must be the moment to settle this matter, and in the meantime preparations to implement the waiver should be underway.”

It was noted that the TRIPS rules mean only the companies that own patents on newer vaccine technologies, such as mRNA vaccines, can make the vaccines and that this would limit the speed with which vaccines such as mRNA vaccines can be supplied.

It was also noted that richer countries had bought up these limited stocks, leaving little for poorer countries through the WHO COVAX facility. As a result, rich countries, it was said were  vaccinating a person a minute, including groups not at higher risk of death or severe disease, while most poor countries had yet to vaccinate anyone.

 

Violence in Israel and Palestine must stop

 

On 11th May the ITUC reported that it was calling for an immediate cessation of violence in Israel and Palestine, and urgent talks through the UN and the Middle East Quad to tackle the immediate causes of the violence and the underlying injustices from the Israeli occupation.

It was noted that Israeli airstrikes on Gaza had killed 24 people, including nine children and that these had been launched in retaliation for rockets fired from Gaza, which had injured more than 20 people.  It was also noted that these attacks had come after days of violence, in particular in Jerusalem, where hundreds of Palestinians had been injured in demonstrations against forced evictions of Palestinian families by the Israeli authorities so that their houses could be handed over to Israelis.

It was also reported that the planned evictions, if implemented, would constitute a gross violation of Israel’s obligations under international law.

Root cause

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, was reported as saying: “We utterly condemn the violence and in particular the loss of life in all cases. It is also heart breaking to see Palestinian families facing being thrown out of their homes to make way for Israeli settlers. Yet again, the unjust and illegal occupation of Palestinian lands, and the perpetuation of the occupation of Palestine by Israel, are the root cause.

“The only acceptable and sustainable solution is the full implementation of the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions aimed at ending the occupation, with negotiations bringing about the existence of two sovereign states: Palestine and Israel.”

It was further reported that in another development, Ashraf Al-A’war, a Secretary of the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions, had been detained on 8 May by Israeli security forces and subjected to questioning about his trade union activities until late that night. An Israeli court had then prohibited him from taking part in any trade union or political gathering for a period of one month.

“This is a completely unacceptable example of harassment of a trade union official in the course of his trade union work. It is a clear violation of ILO Convention 87 on Freedom of Association. The restriction on his trade union activities must be lifted immediately, and he should receive an apology for the mistreatment he has experienced at the hands of the Israeli security forces and the court,” added Sharan Burrow.

 

ITUC welcomes WHO independent panel report

 It was reported on 12th May by the ITUC that they welcomed the far-reaching and essential recommendations of the Independent Panel on Pandemic Preparedness and Response (IPPPR), chaired by Helen Clark and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Immediate and longer-term action was said to be  needed by revitalised multilateral institutions.

It was noted that the ITUC backs the panel’s vital and urgent call for sharing wealth, productive capacity and intellectual property. It was said that the World Trade Organization needs to enact a pandemic TRIPS waiver, and the G20 needs to provide the resources to ramp up productive capacity, vaccination and testing.

It was further reported that as well as the raft of reforms to the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended in the report, the WHO needed to rely more on the ILO to ensure that jobs and workers are protected from future pandemics, and it needs to consult with unions and employers more effectively and consistently about how to manage pandemics in, and their effect on, workplaces.

 

 

Extending social protection to the culture and creative sector

It was reported by the ILO on 13th may that the culture and creative sector is among the sectors hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. It was noted that Lockdown measures had led to the closure of theatres and cinemas, and the suspension or cancellation of movie, television and music productions. It was further noted that many workers in the industry had lost their jobs and had had no social protection to help them. A new ILO study was said to show that extending social protection to the culture and creative sector is possible.

 

109th International Labour Conference to be held virtually, opening in May

On 17th May ILO News reported that the 109th Session of the International Labour Conference would, for the first time in its history, be held virtually, reflecting changes imposed by the COVID-19 crisis.

It was also noted that in another special arrangement the ILC would open on 20 May (13:00 - Geneva time) to elect its Officers and set the Conference in motion. It was aais that the Conference would then proceed in two parts; the first in June 2021 and a second in November-December 2021.

The June sittings were said to be starting on 3 June, with meetings of the Conference committees that are expected to run for two and a half weeks.

It was then said that work in plenary will commence on 7 June and will be addressed by the President of the Swiss Confederation. The ILO’s Director-General, Guy Ryder and the Chairperson of the Governing Body will also present their reports, which will cover two years. This will be followed by the introductory statements of the Presidents of the ILC’s Employers and Workers groups.

 

Educators and the changing world of education and work

On 17th May, the ILO noted that effective lifelong learning and quality education for all was essential for a better future of work. It was noted that if teachers, trainers and support workers were to fill this need they would need to master new technologies and learning techniques and receive support to deal with their expanded responsibilities. It was further reported that representatives of governments, employers and workers were meeting at the ILO to discuss strategies for promoting quality learning and decent work in education.

 

Long working hours can increase deaths from heart disease and stroke, say ILO and WHO

It was noted by ILO News on 17th May that the number of people working long hours globally had increased over time, to an estimated 479 million workers, or nine per cent of the global population.

It was further noted that long working hours had led to 745,000 deaths from ischemic heart disease and stroke in 2016, a 29 per cent increase since 2000, according to new estimates  from the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

It was also reported that in a first global analysis of the loss of life and health from these two diseases associated with working long hours, WHO and ILO had estimated that in 2016, 398,000 people died from stroke and 347,000 from heart diseases attributable to having worked 55 or more hours per week

 

 

ILO teams with J.P Morgan to support women entrepreneurs

It was reported by ILO News on 17th May that women entrepreneurs in Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand looking to recover from the pandemic and build long-term business resilience could receive support through a new initiative launched by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and JPMorgan Chase Foundation.

 

 

COVID-19: 98% of world’s workers not getting the basic support they need

 On 18th May, ITUC reported that a new global study from the ITUC and UNI Global Union had found that 98% of the world’s workers were not getting the sick pay, wage replacement and social benefits they need to address the challenges of COVID-19.

It was further reported that this ground-breaking global analysis ranked 181 governmental responses to the pandemic and places Argentina at the top. It was also noted that just over half of the governments in the study recognise Covid-19 as an occupational disease through a formal regulatory process.

 

First ever virtual International Labour Conference opens

For the first time in its history the International Labour Conference is taking place online and will be divided into two segments during the course of the year.

 

On 20th May, ILO News reported that the 109th International Labour Conference  (ILC) had opened, the first to take place virtually due to restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was noted that Omar Zniber, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Morocco to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva, had been elected President of the Conference in its opening session, on 20 May 2021 and that he described his election as “a source of pride” for his country and the African region.

He was quoted as saying: “As it is often said, the International Labour Conference is the global parliament of labour, affording governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations of Member States a unique opportunity to hold tripartite discussions about social and labour issues, as well as matters related to the world of work”.

“This year, our Conference takes on a special format and is particularly significant, in view of its deferral last year for reasons we all know too well. Needless to say, high expectations have been placed in the work we will undertake over the next few weeks, and at the resumption of our session, later this year. I shall do my best, together with my Vice-Presidents, to guide our work in that spirit, and will spare no effort to ensure that this Conference is a success for all.”

 

ILO, Viet Nam join force to promote international labour standards and decent work for all

Viet Nam plans to ratify 15 more ILO Conventions, including a core convention on freedom of association, during the 2021-30 period.

It was reported by the ILO on 20th May that the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Vietnamese Government had signed a Memorandum of Understanding to push the promotion of international labour standards in Viet Nam over the next 10 years.

It was noted that the document for the 2021-30 period had been signed on 20 May 2021 in Hanoi by representatives of ILO Viet Nam and the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA).

It was also noted that both sides had agreed to work together to promote the ratification and implementation of international labour standards in Viet Nam through a cooperation framework between the MOLISA and ILO Viet Nam, and ensure the participation of representatives of workers and employers in the entire process.

 

ILO to release new analysis of labour market and social trends

 On 21st May ILO News reported that the International Labour Organization (ILO) would publish a new edition of its World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2021 (WESO Trends), which looks at the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global labour market and the prospects for recovery.

It was noted that the WESO Trends and accompanying press release would be published on Thursday 27 May 2021. It was also noted that it covers the extent and consequences of the labour market disruption caused by the crisis, including the effects on inequality, working poverty and youth employment and also outlines principles for a comprehensive and human-centred recovery strategy.

 

 

Help educators now so they can help build a better future of work, says ILO

ILO News reported on 24th May that education workers needed more support if they were to provide the additional learning needed for building a more resilient and sustainable recovery from the pandemic.

It was also noted that there was an urgent need to invest in education and in training and decent work for education workers, so they could contribute to the post-COVID-19 recovery, according to delegates at an ILO technical meeting on the future of work in the education sector .

It was further reported that effective lifelong learning and quality education for all were essential for a better future of work. It was said that if teachers, trainers and support workers were to fill this need and pave the way to address the challenges that lie ahead, they would need to master new technologies and learning techniques, understand the skills’ needs of the labour market and receive support to deal with their expanded responsibilities.

 

 

New legislation in Qatar provides greater protection to workers from heat stress

Prohibited summertime working hours expanded by six weeks and annual health checks for workers introduced.

On 26th May, ILO News reported that as temperatures began to soar across the Gulf region, Qatar had adopted new rules providing further protection to workers from heat stress.

It was noted that a Ministerial Decision announced on 26 May 2021 has introduced a significant expansion of summertime working hours during which outdoor work is prohibited.

It was further noted that under the new rules which came into force immediately, workers cannot work outside between 10:00 and 15:30 from 1 June to 15 September. This, it was said has replaced legislation from 2007, that had prohibited work in outdoor workspaces from 11:30 to 15:00, between 15 June and 31 August.

It also reported that in addition, regardless of the time, all work must stop if the wet-bulb globe temperature (WBGT) rises beyond 32.1 °C in a particular workplace. The WBGT index it was said, takes into consideration ambient temperature, humidity, solar radiation and wind speed.

 

Tokyo Olympics: IOC must review COVID-19 protocols with players’ unions and experts

The ITUC reported on 27th May that they were calling for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to fix the deeply flawed COVID-19 protocols it has published for the Tokyo Olympics, through engagement with sports players’ unions and pandemic experts.

It was also noted that an article published on 25 May in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine reveals major deficits in the IOC plans, which expose athletes, workers, volunteers and potentially people in athletes’ home countries to avoidable risk of infection.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, was reported as saying: “An event that would bring together people from virtually every country in the world when the global pandemic is raging could only be envisaged on the basis of the most up-to-date scientific knowledge. This is not the case with the IOC’s ‘Playbook’ for the Tokyo Olympics.

“Best-practice occupational health and safety standards on ventilation, testing, sharing accommodation, prevention of transmission and other vital protections are not included in the IOC’s plans. Participation in the Olympics is the summit of their sporting experience for many thousands of athletes, and everyone involved in the Games deserves the maximum protection, not arrangements that cut corners and expose people to risks that can be prevented and avoided.”

 

Saudi Arabia reinforces its commitment to eradicate forced labour in all its forms

Saudi Arabia ratifies the Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention

 

On 27th May ILO News reported that the previous day, Saudi Arabia had deposited the instrument of ratification of the Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 , so becoming the fifty-second country worldwide and the first among members of the Gulf Cooperation Council to ratify this instrument. It was noted that with this ratification, Saudi Arabia was demonstrating its firm commitment to combating forced labour in all its forms, including human trafficking.

It was also noted that having been overwhelmingly adopted during the 2014 International Labour Conference, the Protocol reinforces the international legal framework for combating forced labour. It was said that it commits States to take effective measures to prevent forced labour, sanction its perpetrators, and protect its victims and ensure their access to justice and remedies.

It was further reported that according to the latest global estimates , there are still 25 million men, women and children trapped in forced labour.   The ILO  has recently highlighted that the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the risk of the most vulnerable workers, including migrant workers, to get tricked and trapped in forced labour. The risk of increasing debt bondage is particularly important.

 

 

 

Iraq ratifies Convention No. 184 and Convention No. 185

ILO News reported on 27th May that on 21 May 2021, His Excellency Ambassador Abdul Karim Hashim Mostafa, Permanent Representative of Iraq had presented the instruments of ratification for the Safety and Health in Agriculture Convention, 2001 (No. 184)  and the Seafarers' Identity Documents Convention (Revised), 2003, as amended (No. 185)  to the ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder.

It was noted that the ILO Director-General Guy Ryder had welcomed the ratifications, stating “With these ratifications, Iraq has re-affirmed its commitment to decent work and the ILO’s standards system, during this time of crisis.”  Upon receipt of the instrument of ratification of Convention No. 184, he stated “I am pleased to welcome Iraq’s formal commitment to improving occupational safety and health in the agricultural sector, in consultation with the social partners. Agriculture is one of the most hazardous economic sectors in the world. By ratifying Convention No. 184, the Government of Iraq confirms its determination to prevent accidents and occupational diseases in this sector in a continuous and sustainable manner. This is the 10th occupational safety and health Convention ratified by Iraq - I welcome this significant step towards building and strengthening a preventative safety and health culture.” Furthet o this, turning to Convention No. 185, Mr Ryder had indicated “It is with great pleasure that I welcome Iraq among the States parties to Convention No. 185. This ratification strengthens Iraq’s commitment to ensuring decent working and living conditions for seafarers by facilitating their rights to shore leave, transit and transfer. The vital importance of these elements for seafarers’ general well-being has clearly been exposed during the crisis currently faced by the maritime sector as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

 

 

 

Tokyo Olympics: IOC must review COVID-19 protocols with players’ unions and experts

On 27th the ITUC reported that they were calling for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to fix the deeply flawed COVID-19 protocols it had published for the Tokyo Olympics, through engagement with sports players’ unions and pandemic experts.

It was argued that an article published on 25 May in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine revealed major deficits in the IOC plans, which expose athletes, workers, volunteers and potentially people in athletes’ home countries to avoidable risk of infection.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, was reported as saying: “An event that would bring together people from virtually every country in the world when the global pandemic is raging could only be envisaged on the basis of the most up-to-date scientific knowledge. This is not the case with the IOC’s ‘Playbook’ for the Tokyo Olympics.

“Best-practice occupational health and safety standards on ventilation, testing, sharing accommodation, prevention of transmission and other vital protections are not included in the IOC’s plans. Participation in the Olympics is the summit of their sporting experience for many thousands of athletes, and everyone involved in the Games deserves the maximum protection, not arrangements that cut corners and expose people to risks that can be prevented and avoided.”

 

Hong Kong: Lee Cheuk Yan given further jail sentence for pro-democracy protest

On 28th May, it was reported by the ITUC that Lee Cheuk Yan, General Secretary of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, had been sentenced to 18 months in prison for ‘inciting, organising and participating in an unauthorised assembly’ on 1 October 2019.

 

It was noted that this was in addition to an 18 month sentence he received in April 2021 for another pro-democracy event in August 2019.

It was further reported that Lee Cheuk Yan will serve the two sentences concurrently. Taking into account time already served, he will be imprisoned for 20 months in total.

‘The movement will continue’

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, was reported as saying: “The international trade union movement stands with Lee Cheuk Yan and Hong Kong’s democracy movement throughout this difficult time.

“Beijing’s strong-arm regime must realise that they will not crush the working people of Hong Kong. Their wish for democracy will not end and the movement will continue with global support.”

 

Peter Sagar, A Living Tradition CIC

As workers around the world who have lost their lives to workplace accidents and disease are commemorated on 28 April, trade unions are pressing two key demands to save lives.

At the end of April, ITUC  was calling for two key demands to save lives.

1. Occupational health and safety must be given the status of a fundamental right by the International Labour Organization (ILO), alongside the existing fundamental rights: freedom of association, collective bargaining and protection from discrimination, forced labour and child labour. A landmark decision by the ILO Governing Body in March means this should happen at the ILO Conference in June 2022.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, was reported as saying: “This is an issue of the utmost importance and it has already taken too long to resolve. Poor workplace health and safety costs some 2.78 million lives every year.

“Making occupational health and safety a fundamental ILO right will increase the accountability of governments and employers to stop the carnage and give more leverage to unions and workplace safety representatives. Only bad employers would resist this and we are prepared to fight hard to save lives.”

2. COVID-19 must be classified as an occupational disease. This would provide enhanced protection for workers and enable access to compensation funds for families of workers who die or are infected with Covid-19 at work. Last year, global unions called on the ILO to list Covid-19 as an occupational disease and an initial ITUC survey of 58 countries shows that, so far, only 26 have taken this step. In some cases this coverage is restricted to workers in the health sector.

Sharan Burrow was reported as saying that, “most Covid-19 outbreaks happen in workplaces, including schools. Safe workplaces would play a crucial role in suppressing the spread of the pandemic.

“Access to compensation for work-related Covid-19 is especially important, in particular because it has killed many workers and can cause debilitating illness long after infection.

“While we welcome coverage of health workers, it is wrong that some countries have excluded others such as meat packing and warehouse workers who, through poor regulation and employer neglect, have seen high rates of infection.

Every worker deserves to be covered. Those countries that have failed to act must do so without further delay, and ILO listing would encourage that”.

The ITUC was also reported as  calling for a massive boost in the production of vaccines against the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19. This must include the removal of all barriers, including intellectual property and profit-gouging, to ensure that vaccines, tests, treatments and other public health tools are available to all, without discrimination.

 

Is the future ready for youth? Youth employment policies for evolving labour markets

On 3rd May, ILO News carried an interview with Sukti Dasgupta, ILO Employment Department Chief of the Employment, Labour Markets and Youth Branch, and Juan Chacaltana, Senior Employment Policies Specialist.   The interview looked at youth employment policies for changing labour markets.

 

Tourism: An opportunity to rethink the future of the industry

It was noted by ILO News on 4th May, that tourism had been among the hardest hit of all sectors by the COVID-19 pandemic. It was reported that women, youth, and workers in the informal economy were the most at risk from tourism sector job losses and business closures and that building back better from the COVID-19 pandemic represented an opportunity to rethink the future of the tourism sector, including how it contributes to the lives of 300 million workers worldwide.

ILO launches the 7th Global Media Competition on Labour Migration

Journalists are invited to submit their best stories on labour migration, especially those relating to domestic workers and the impact of COVID-19 on labour migration and fair recruitment.

On 6th May ILO News reported that the International Labour Organization (ILO) was launching its seventh annual Global Media Competition , with the aim being to recognize fair and balanced reports that contribute to the elimination of xenophobia and discrimination against migrant workers, and highlight the positive contributions migrants make to society.

It was noted that this year, judges are particularly interested in coverage of the impact of COVID-19 on labour migration and fair recruitment, including those relating to migrant care workers and that stories about migrant domestic workers will also be viewed favourably, since this year marks the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the ILO’s Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 (No. 189) .

It was also reported that the competition is open to professional and student journalists and will be judged by a panel of international migration and journalism experts. It was said that the winning entries will be selected according to a range of criteria including creativity, accuracy, balance and the positive portrayal of labour migration, with a focus on the protection of migrants.

 

 

ILO launches the 7th Global Media Competition on Labour Migration

Journalists are invited to submit their best stories on labour migration, especially those relating to domestic workers and the impact of COVID-19 on labour migration and fair recruitment.

On 6th May, ILO News reported that the International Labour Organization (ILO) was launching its seventh annual Global Media Competition . It was noted that its aim is to recognize fair and balanced reports that contribute to the elimination of xenophobia and discrimination against migrant workers, and highlight the positive contributions migrants make to society.

It was also reported that this year, judges are particularly interested in coverage of the impact of COVID-19 on labour migration and fair recruitment, including those relating to migrant care workers. Stories about migrant domestic workers will also be viewed favourably, since this year marks the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the ILO’s Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 (No. 189) .

 

 

UN leaders urge companies relying on shipping supply chains to undertake urgent measures to protect seafarers’ rights

 

UNITED NATIONS, New York, 6 May 2021  On 6th May, the ILO News reported that a wide-ranging human rights checklist had that day been issued to business enterprises engaged with the maritime industry to protect seafarers stranded on ships due to new COVID-19 variants and government-imposed travel restrictions, under a joint initiative by the UN Global Compact, the UN Human Rights Office, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

 

Colombia: Duque government must end violence against protestors

 On 5th May, the ITUC reported that it was expressing its support for the people of Colombia as they faced a brutal crackdown by the government of President Iván Duque.

It was noteds that working people in Colombia, led by an alliance of trade unions and social groups, had taken to the streets every day since 28 April against the far-right Duque government and its planned tax reform, which would deepen inequality. It was said that the scale of the demonstrations had forced the government to withdraw the bill.

It was further reported that this week the government had deployed the notorious Anti-Riot Squad (ESMAD) across the country with more than 1,089 cases of violence reported.

 

 

US administration’s support for COVID-19 vaccines’ TRIPS waiver a huge step forward

 On 6th May the ITUC reported that the announcement by the Biden administration that it would support the waiver of WTO TRIPS rules for COVID-19 vaccines was a major step towards bringing the pandemic under control.

 

The waiver, proposed by India and South Africa, was reported as having support from many other governments, but the European Union, the UK and Australia in particular had yet to agree.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, was reported as saying: “US support will hopefully break the stalemate on this vital question. All governments must stand up to the greed of pharmaceutical companies putting profits before people. The WTO TRIPS Council meeting on 8 and 9 June must be the moment to settle this matter, and in the meantime preparations to implement the waiver should be underway.”

It was noted that the TRIPS rules mean only the companies that own patents on newer vaccine technologies, such as mRNA vaccines, can make the vaccines and that this would limit the speed with which vaccines such as mRNA vaccines can be supplied.

It was also noted that richer countries had bought up these limited stocks, leaving little for poorer countries through the WHO COVAX facility. As a result, rich countries, it was said were  vaccinating a person a minute, including groups not at higher risk of death or severe disease, while most poor countries had yet to vaccinate anyone.

 

 

Violence in Israel and Palestine must stop

 

On 11th May the ITUC reported that it was calling for an immediate cessation of violence in Israel and Palestine, and urgent talks through the UN and the Middle East Quad to tackle the immediate causes of the violence and the underlying injustices from the Israeli occupation.

It was noted that Israeli airstrikes on Gaza had killed 24 people, including nine children and that these had been launched in retaliation for rockets fired from Gaza, which had injured more than 20 people.  It was also noted that these attacks had come after days of violence, in particular in Jerusalem, where hundreds of Palestinians had been injured in demonstrations against forced evictions of Palestinian families by the Israeli authorities so that their houses could be handed over to Israelis.

It was also reported that the planned evictions, if implemented, would constitute a gross violation of Israel’s obligations under international law.

Root cause

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, was reported as saying: “We utterly condemn the violence and in particular the loss of life in all cases. It is also heart breaking to see Palestinian families facing being thrown out of their homes to make way for Israeli settlers. Yet again, the unjust and illegal occupation of Palestinian lands, and the perpetuation of the occupation of Palestine by Israel, are the root cause.

“The only acceptable and sustainable solution is the full implementation of the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions aimed at ending the occupation, with negotiations bringing about the existence of two sovereign states: Palestine and Israel.”

It was further reported that in another development, Ashraf Al-A’war, a Secretary of the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions, had been detained on 8 May by Israeli security forces and subjected to questioning about his trade union activities until late that night. An Israeli court had then prohibited him from taking part in any trade union or political gathering for a period of one month.

“This is a completely unacceptable example of harassment of a trade union official in the course of his trade union work. It is a clear violation of ILO Convention 87 on Freedom of Association. The restriction on his trade union activities must be lifted immediately, and he should receive an apology for the mistreatment he has experienced at the hands of the Israeli security forces and the court,” added Sharan Burrow.

 

ITUC welcomes WHO independent panel report

 It was reported on 12th May by the ITUC that they welcomed the far-reaching and essential recommendations of the Independent Panel on Pandemic Preparedness and Response (IPPPR), chaired by Helen Clark and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Immediate and longer-term action was said to be  needed by revitalised multilateral institutions.

It was noted that the ITUC backs the panel’s vital and urgent call for sharing wealth, productive capacity and intellectual property. It was said that the World Trade Organization needs to enact a pandemic TRIPS waiver, and the G20 needs to provide the resources to ramp up productive capacity, vaccination and testing.

It was further reported that as well as the raft of reforms to the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended in the report, the WHO needed to rely more on the ILO to ensure that jobs and workers are protected from future pandemics, and it needs to consult with unions and employers more effectively and consistently about how to manage pandemics in, and their effect on, workplaces.

 

 

Extending social protection to the culture and creative sector

It was reported by the ILO on 13th may that the culture and creative sector is among the sectors hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. It was noted that Lockdown measures had led to the closure of theatres and cinemas, and the suspension or cancellation of movie, television and music productions. It was further noted that many workers in the industry had lost their jobs and had had no social protection to help them. A new ILO study was said to show that extending social protection to the culture and creative sector is possible.

 

109th International Labour Conference to be held virtually, opening in May

On 17th May ILO News reported that the 109th Session of the International Labour Conference would, for the first time in its history, be held virtually, reflecting changes imposed by the COVID-19 crisis.

It was also noted that in another special arrangement the ILC would open on 20 May (13:00 - Geneva time) to elect its Officers and set the Conference in motion. It was aais that the Conference would then proceed in two parts; the first in June 2021 and a second in November-December 2021.

The June sittings were said to be starting on 3 June, with meetings of the Conference committees that are expected to run for two and a half weeks.

It was then said that work in plenary will commence on 7 June and will be addressed by the President of the Swiss Confederation. The ILO’s Director-General, Guy Ryder and the Chairperson of the Governing Body will also present their reports, which will cover two years. This will be followed by the introductory statements of the Presidents of the ILC’s Employers and Workers groups.

 

Educators and the changing world of education and work

On 17th May, the ILO noted that effective lifelong learning and quality education for all was essential for a better future of work. It was noted that if teachers, trainers and support workers were to fill this need they would need to master new technologies and learning techniques and receive support to deal with their expanded responsibilities. It was further reported that representatives of governments, employers and workers were meeting at the ILO to discuss strategies for promoting quality learning and decent work in education.

 

Long working hours can increase deaths from heart disease and stroke, say ILO and WHO

It was noted by ILO News on 17th May that the number of people working long hours globally had increased over time, to an estimated 479 million workers, or nine per cent of the global population.

It was further noted that long working hours had led to 745,000 deaths from ischemic heart disease and stroke in 2016, a 29 per cent increase since 2000, according to new estimates  from the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

It was also reported that in a first global analysis of the loss of life and health from these two diseases associated with working long hours, WHO and ILO had estimated that in 2016, 398,000 people died from stroke and 347,000 from heart diseases attributable to having worked 55 or more hours per week

 

 

ILO teams with J.P Morgan to support women entrepreneurs

It was reported by ILO News on 17th May that women entrepreneurs in Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand looking to recover from the pandemic and build long-term business resilience could receive support through a new initiative launched by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and JPMorgan Chase Foundation.

 

 

COVID-19: 98% of world’s workers not getting the basic support they need

 On 18th May, ITUC reported that a new global study from the ITUC and UNI Global Union had found that 98% of the world’s workers were not getting the sick pay, wage replacement and social benefits they need to address the challenges of COVID-19.

It was further reported that this ground-breaking global analysis ranked 181 governmental responses to the pandemic and places Argentina at the top. It was also noted that just over half of the governments in the study recognise Covid-19 as an occupational disease through a formal regulatory process.

 

First ever virtual International Labour Conference opens

For the first time in its history the International Labour Conference is taking place online and will be divided into two segments during the course of the year.

 

On 20th May, ILO News reported that the 109th International Labour Conference  (ILC) had opened, the first to take place virtually due to restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was noted that Omar Zniber, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Morocco to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva, had been elected President of the Conference in its opening session, on 20 May 2021 and that he described his election as “a source of pride” for his country and the African region.

He was quoted as saying: “As it is often said, the International Labour Conference is the global parliament of labour, affording governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations of Member States a unique opportunity to hold tripartite discussions about social and labour issues, as well as matters related to the world of work”.

“This year, our Conference takes on a special format and is particularly significant, in view of its deferral last year for reasons we all know too well. Needless to say, high expectations have been placed in the work we will undertake over the next few weeks, and at the resumption of our session, later this year. I shall do my best, together with my Vice-Presidents, to guide our work in that spirit, and will spare no effort to ensure that this Conference is a success for all.”

 

ILO, Viet Nam join force to promote international labour standards and decent work for all

Viet Nam plans to ratify 15 more ILO Conventions, including a core convention on freedom of association, during the 2021-30 period.

It was reported by the ILO on 20th May that the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Vietnamese Government had signed a Memorandum of Understanding to push the promotion of international labour standards in Viet Nam over the next 10 years.

It was noted that the document for the 2021-30 period had been signed on 20 May 2021 in Hanoi by representatives of ILO Viet Nam and the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA).

It was also noted that both sides had agreed to work together to promote the ratification and implementation of international labour standards in Viet Nam through a cooperation framework between the MOLISA and ILO Viet Nam, and ensure the participation of representatives of workers and employers in the entire process.

 

ILO to release new analysis of labour market and social trends

 On 21st May ILO News reported that the International Labour Organization (ILO) would publish a new edition of its World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2021 (WESO Trends), which looks at the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global labour market and the prospects for recovery.

It was noted that the WESO Trends and accompanying press release would be published on Thursday 27 May 2021. It was also noted that it covers the extent and consequences of the labour market disruption caused by the crisis, including the effects on inequality, working poverty and youth employment and also outlines principles for a comprehensive and human-centred recovery strategy.

 

 

 

Help educators now so they can help build a better future of work, says ILO

ILO News reported on 24th May that education workers needed more support if they were to provide the additional learning needed for building a more resilient and sustainable recovery from the pandemic.

It was also noted that there was an urgent need to invest in education and in training and decent work for education workers, so they could contribute to the post-COVID-19 recovery, according to delegates at an ILO technical meeting on the future of work in the education sector .

It was further reported that effective lifelong learning and quality education for all were essential for a better future of work. It was said that if teachers, trainers and support workers were to fill this need and pave the way to address the challenges that lie ahead, they would need to master new technologies and learning techniques, understand the skills’ needs of the labour market and receive support to deal with their expanded responsibilities.

 

 

New legislation in Qatar provides greater protection to workers from heat stress

Prohibited summertime working hours expanded by six weeks and annual health checks for workers introduced.

On 26th May, ILO News reported that as temperatures began to soar across the Gulf region, Qatar had adopted new rules providing further protection to workers from heat stress.

It was noted that a Ministerial Decision announced on 26 May 2021 has introduced a significant expansion of summertime working hours during which outdoor work is prohibited.

It was further noted that under the new rules which came into force immediately, workers cannot work outside between 10:00 and 15:30 from 1 June to 15 September. This, it was said has replaced legislation from 2007, that had prohibited work in outdoor workspaces from 11:30 to 15:00, between 15 June and 31 August.

It also reported that in addition, regardless of the time, all work must stop if the wet-bulb globe temperature (WBGT) rises beyond 32.1 °C in a particular workplace. The WBGT index it was said, takes into consideration ambient temperature, humidity, solar radiation and wind speed.

 

Tokyo Olympics: IOC must review COVID-19 protocols with players’ unions and experts

The ITUC reported on 27th May that they were calling for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to fix the deeply flawed COVID-19 protocols it has published for the Tokyo Olympics, through engagement with sports players’ unions and pandemic experts.

It was also noted that an article published on 25 May in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine reveals major deficits in the IOC plans, which expose athletes, workers, volunteers and potentially people in athletes’ home countries to avoidable risk of infection.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, was reported as saying: “An event that would bring together people from virtually every country in the world when the global pandemic is raging could only be envisaged on the basis of the most up-to-date scientific knowledge. This is not the case with the IOC’s ‘Playbook’ for the Tokyo Olympics.

“Best-practice occupational health and safety standards on ventilation, testing, sharing accommodation, prevention of transmission and other vital protections are not included in the IOC’s plans. Participation in the Olympics is the summit of their sporting experience for many thousands of athletes, and everyone involved in the Games deserves the maximum protection, not arrangements that cut corners and expose people to risks that can be prevented and avoided.”

 

Saudi Arabia reinforces its commitment to eradicate forced labour in all its forms

Saudi Arabia ratifies the Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention

 

On 27th May ILO News reported that the previous day, Saudi Arabia had deposited the instrument of ratification of the Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 , so becoming the fifty-second country worldwide and the first among members of the Gulf Cooperation Council to ratify this instrument. It was noted that with this ratification, Saudi Arabia was demonstrating its firm commitment to combating forced labour in all its forms, including human trafficking.

It was also noted that having been overwhelmingly adopted during the 2014 International Labour Conference, the Protocol reinforces the international legal framework for combating forced labour. It was said that it commits States to take effective measures to prevent forced labour, sanction its perpetrators, and protect its victims and ensure their access to justice and remedies.

It was further reported that according to the latest global estimates , there are still 25 million men, women and children trapped in forced labour.   The ILO  has recently highlighted that the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the risk of the most vulnerable workers, including migrant workers, to get tricked and trapped in forced labour. The risk of increasing debt bondage is particularly important.

 

 

 

Iraq ratifies Convention No. 184 and Convention No. 185

ILO News reported on 27th May that on 21 May 2021, His Excellency Ambassador Abdul Karim Hashim Mostafa, Permanent Representative of Iraq had presented the instruments of ratification for the Safety and Health in Agriculture Convention, 2001 (No. 184)  and the Seafarers' Identity Documents Convention (Revised), 2003, as amended (No. 185)  to the ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder.

It was noted that the ILO Director-General Guy Ryder had welcomed the ratifications, stating “With these ratifications, Iraq has re-affirmed its commitment to decent work and the ILO’s standards system, during this time of crisis.”  Upon receipt of the instrument of ratification of Convention No. 184, he stated “I am pleased to welcome Iraq’s formal commitment to improving occupational safety and health in the agricultural sector, in consultation with the social partners. Agriculture is one of the most hazardous economic sectors in the world. By ratifying Convention No. 184, the Government of Iraq confirms its determination to prevent accidents and occupational diseases in this sector in a continuous and sustainable manner. This is the 10th occupational safety and health Convention ratified by Iraq - I welcome this significant step towards building and strengthening a preventative safety and health culture.” Furthet o this, turning to Convention No. 185, Mr Ryder had indicated “It is with great pleasure that I welcome Iraq among the States parties to Convention No. 185. This ratification strengthens Iraq’s commitment to ensuring decent working and living conditions for seafarers by facilitating their rights to shore leave, transit and transfer. The vital importance of these elements for seafarers’ general well-being has clearly been exposed during the crisis currently faced by the maritime sector as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

 

 

 

Tokyo Olympics: IOC must review COVID-19 protocols with players’ unions and experts

On 27th the ITUC reported that they were calling for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to fix the deeply flawed COVID-19 protocols it had published for the Tokyo Olympics, through engagement with sports players’ unions and pandemic experts.

It was argued that an article published on 25 May in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine revealed major deficits in the IOC plans, which expose athletes, workers, volunteers and potentially people in athletes’ home countries to avoidable risk of infection.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, was reported as saying: “An event that would bring together people from virtually every country in the world when the global pandemic is raging could only be envisaged on the basis of the most up-to-date scientific knowledge. This is not the case with the IOC’s ‘Playbook’ for the Tokyo Olympics.

“Best-practice occupational health and safety standards on ventilation, testing, sharing accommodation, prevention of transmission and other vital protections are not included in the IOC’s plans. Participation in the Olympics is the summit of their sporting experience for many thousands of athletes, and everyone involved in the Games deserves the maximum protection, not arrangements that cut corners and expose people to risks that can be prevented and avoided.”

 

Hong Kong: Lee Cheuk Yan given further jail sentence for pro-democracy protest

On 28th May, it was reported by the ITUC that Lee Cheuk Yan, General Secretary of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, had been sentenced to 18 months in prison for ‘inciting, organising and participating in an unauthorised assembly’ on 1 October 2019.

 

It was noted that this was in addition to an 18 month sentence he received in April 2021 for another pro-democracy event in August 2019.

It was further reported that Lee Cheuk Yan will serve the two sentences concurrently. Taking into account time already served, he will be imprisoned for 20 months in total.

‘The movement will continue’

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, was reported as saying: “The international trade union movement stands with Lee Cheuk Yan and Hong Kong’s democracy movement throughout this difficult time.

“Beijing’s strong-arm regime must realise that they will not crush the working people of Hong Kong. Their wish for democracy will not end and the movement will continue with global support.”

 

Peter Sagar, A Living Tradition CIC

As workers around the world who have lost their lives to workplace accidents and disease are commemorated on 28 April, trade unions are pressing two key demands to save lives.

At the end of April, ITUC  was calling for two key demands to save lives.

1. Occupational health and safety must be given the status of a fundamental right by the International Labour Organization (ILO), alongside the existing fundamental rights: freedom of association, collective bargaining and protection from discrimination, forced labour and child labour. A landmark decision by the ILO Governing Body in March means this should happen at the ILO Conference in June 2022.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, was reported as saying: “This is an issue of the utmost importance and it has already taken too long to resolve. Poor workplace health and safety costs some 2.78 million lives every year.

“Making occupational health and safety a fundamental ILO right will increase the accountability of governments and employers to stop the carnage and give more leverage to unions and workplace safety representatives. Only bad employers would resist this and we are prepared to fight hard to save lives.”

2. COVID-19 must be classified as an occupational disease. This would provide enhanced protection for workers and enable access to compensation funds for families of workers who die or are infected with Covid-19 at work. Last year, global unions called on the ILO to list Covid-19 as an occupational disease and an initial ITUC survey of 58 countries shows that, so far, only 26 have taken this step. In some cases this coverage is restricted to workers in the health sector.

Sharan Burrow was reported as saying that, “most Covid-19 outbreaks happen in workplaces, including schools. Safe workplaces would play a crucial role in suppressing the spread of the pandemic.

“Access to compensation for work-related Covid-19 is especially important, in particular because it has killed many workers and can cause debilitating illness long after infection.

“While we welcome coverage of health workers, it is wrong that some countries have excluded others such as meat packing and warehouse workers who, through poor regulation and employer neglect, have seen high rates of infection.

Every worker deserves to be covered. Those countries that have failed to act must do so without further delay, and ILO listing would encourage that”.

The ITUC was also reported as  calling for a massive boost in the production of vaccines against the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19. This must include the removal of all barriers, including intellectual property and profit-gouging, to ensure that vaccines, tests, treatments and other public health tools are available to all, without discrimination.

 

Is the future ready for youth? Youth employment policies for evolving labour markets

On 3rd May, ILO News carried an interview with Sukti Dasgupta, ILO Employment Department Chief of the Employment, Labour Markets and Youth Branch, and Juan Chacaltana, Senior Employment Policies Specialist.   The interview looked at youth employment policies for changing labour markets.

 

Tourism: An opportunity to rethink the future of the industry

It was noted by ILO News on 4th May, that tourism had been among the hardest hit of all sectors by the COVID-19 pandemic. It was reported that women, youth, and workers in the informal economy were the most at risk from tourism sector job losses and business closures and that building back better from the COVID-19 pandemic represented an opportunity to rethink the future of the tourism sector, including how it contributes to the lives of 300 million workers worldwide.

ILO launches the 7th Global Media Competition on Labour Migration

Journalists are invited to submit their best stories on labour migration, especially those relating to domestic workers and the impact of COVID-19 on labour migration and fair recruitment.

On 6th May ILO News reported that the International Labour Organization (ILO) was launching its seventh annual Global Media Competition , with the aim being to recognize fair and balanced reports that contribute to the elimination of xenophobia and discrimination against migrant workers, and highlight the positive contributions migrants make to society.

It was noted that this year, judges are particularly interested in coverage of the impact of COVID-19 on labour migration and fair recruitment, including those relating to migrant care workers and that stories about migrant domestic workers will also be viewed favourably, since this year marks the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the ILO’s Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 (No. 189) .

It was also reported that the competition is open to professional and student journalists and will be judged by a panel of international migration and journalism experts. It was said that the winning entries will be selected according to a range of criteria including creativity, accuracy, balance and the positive portrayal of labour migration, with a focus on the protection of migrants.

 

 

ILO launches the 7th Global Media Competition on Labour Migration

Journalists are invited to submit their best stories on labour migration, especially those relating to domestic workers and the impact of COVID-19 on labour migration and fair recruitment.

On 6th May, ILO News reported that the International Labour Organization (ILO) was launching its seventh annual Global Media Competition . It was noted that its aim is to recognize fair and balanced reports that contribute to the elimination of xenophobia and discrimination against migrant workers, and highlight the positive contributions migrants make to society.

It was also reported that this year, judges are particularly interested in coverage of the impact of COVID-19 on labour migration and fair recruitment, including those relating to migrant care workers. Stories about migrant domestic workers will also be viewed favourably, since this year marks the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the ILO’s Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 (No. 189) .

 

 

UN leaders urge companies relying on shipping supply chains to undertake urgent measures to protect seafarers’ rights

 

UNITED NATIONS, New York, 6 May 2021  On 6th May, the ILO News reported that a wide-ranging human rights checklist had that day been issued to business enterprises engaged with the maritime industry to protect seafarers stranded on ships due to new COVID-19 variants and government-imposed travel restrictions, under a joint initiative by the UN Global Compact, the UN Human Rights Office, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

 

Colombia: Duque government must end violence against protestors

 On 5th May, the ITUC reported that it was expressing its support for the people of Colombia as they faced a brutal crackdown by the government of President Iván Duque.

It was noteds that working people in Colombia, led by an alliance of trade unions and social groups, had taken to the streets every day since 28 April against the far-right Duque government and its planned tax reform, which would deepen inequality. It was said that the scale of the demonstrations had forced the government to withdraw the bill.

It was further reported that this week the government had deployed the notorious Anti-Riot Squad (ESMAD) across the country with more than 1,089 cases of violence reported.

 

 

US administration’s support for COVID-19 vaccines’ TRIPS waiver a huge step forward

 On 6th May the ITUC reported that the announcement by the Biden administration that it would support the waiver of WTO TRIPS rules for COVID-19 vaccines was a major step towards bringing the pandemic under control.

 

The waiver, proposed by India and South Africa, was reported as having support from many other governments, but the European Union, the UK and Australia in particular had yet to agree.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, was reported as saying: “US support will hopefully break the stalemate on this vital question. All governments must stand up to the greed of pharmaceutical companies putting profits before people. The WTO TRIPS Council meeting on 8 and 9 June must be the moment to settle this matter, and in the meantime preparations to implement the waiver should be underway.”

It was noted that the TRIPS rules mean only the companies that own patents on newer vaccine technologies, such as mRNA vaccines, can make the vaccines and that this would limit the speed with which vaccines such as mRNA vaccines can be supplied.

It was also noted that richer countries had bought up these limited stocks, leaving little for poorer countries through the WHO COVAX facility. As a result, rich countries, it was said were  vaccinating a person a minute, including groups not at higher risk of death or severe disease, while most poor countries had yet to vaccinate anyone.

 

Violence in Israel and Palestine must stop

 

On 11th May the ITUC reported that it was calling for an immediate cessation of violence in Israel and Palestine, and urgent talks through the UN and the Middle East Quad to tackle the immediate causes of the violence and the underlying injustices from the Israeli occupation.

It was noted that Israeli airstrikes on Gaza had killed 24 people, including nine children and that these had been launched in retaliation for rockets fired from Gaza, which had injured more than 20 people.  It was also noted that these attacks had come after days of violence, in particular in Jerusalem, where hundreds of Palestinians had been injured in demonstrations against forced evictions of Palestinian families by the Israeli authorities so that their houses could be handed over to Israelis.

It was also reported that the planned evictions, if implemented, would constitute a gross violation of Israel’s obligations under international law.

Root cause

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, was reported as saying: “We utterly condemn the violence and in particular the loss of life in all cases. It is also heart breaking to see Palestinian families facing being thrown out of their homes to make way for Israeli settlers. Yet again, the unjust and illegal occupation of Palestinian lands, and the perpetuation of the occupation of Palestine by Israel, are the root cause.

“The only acceptable and sustainable solution is the full implementation of the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions aimed at ending the occupation, with negotiations bringing about the existence of two sovereign states: Palestine and Israel.”

It was further reported that in another development, Ashraf Al-A’war, a Secretary of the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions, had been detained on 8 May by Israeli security forces and subjected to questioning about his trade union activities until late that night. An Israeli court had then prohibited him from taking part in any trade union or political gathering for a period of one month.

“This is a completely unacceptable example of harassment of a trade union official in the course of his trade union work. It is a clear violation of ILO Convention 87 on Freedom of Association. The restriction on his trade union activities must be lifted immediately, and he should receive an apology for the mistreatment he has experienced at the hands of the Israeli security forces and the court,” added Sharan Burrow.

 

ITUC welcomes WHO independent panel report

 It was reported on 12th May by the ITUC that they welcomed the far-reaching and essential recommendations of the Independent Panel on Pandemic Preparedness and Response (IPPPR), chaired by Helen Clark and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Immediate and longer-term action was said to be  needed by revitalised multilateral institutions.

It was noted that the ITUC backs the panel’s vital and urgent call for sharing wealth, productive capacity and intellectual property. It was said that the World Trade Organization needs to enact a pandemic TRIPS waiver, and the G20 needs to provide the resources to ramp up productive capacity, vaccination and testing.

It was further reported that as well as the raft of reforms to the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended in the report, the WHO needed to rely more on the ILO to ensure that jobs and workers are protected from future pandemics, and it needs to consult with unions and employers more effectively and consistently about how to manage pandemics in, and their effect on, workplaces.

 

 

Extending social protection to the culture and creative sector

It was reported by the ILO on 13th may that the culture and creative sector is among the sectors hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. It was noted that Lockdown measures had led to the closure of theatres and cinemas, and the suspension or cancellation of movie, television and music productions. It was further noted that many workers in the industry had lost their jobs and had had no social protection to help them. A new ILO study was said to show that extending social protection to the culture and creative sector is possible.

 

109th International Labour Conference to be held virtually, opening in May

On 17th May ILO News reported that the 109th Session of the International Labour Conference would, for the first time in its history, be held virtually, reflecting changes imposed by the COVID-19 crisis.

It was also noted that in another special arrangement the ILC would open on 20 May (13:00 - Geneva time) to elect its Officers and set the Conference in motion. It was aais that the Conference would then proceed in two parts; the first in June 2021 and a second in November-December 2021.

The June sittings were said to be starting on 3 June, with meetings of the Conference committees that are expected to run for two and a half weeks.

It was then said that work in plenary will commence on 7 June and will be addressed by the President of the Swiss Confederation. The ILO’s Director-General, Guy Ryder and the Chairperson of the Governing Body will also present their reports, which will cover two years. This will be followed by the introductory statements of the Presidents of the ILC’s Employers and Workers groups.

 

Educators and the changing world of education and work

On 17th May, the ILO noted that effective lifelong learning and quality education for all was essential for a better future of work. It was noted that if teachers, trainers and support workers were to fill this need they would need to master new technologies and learning techniques and receive support to deal with their expanded responsibilities. It was further reported that representatives of governments, employers and workers were meeting at the ILO to discuss strategies for promoting quality learning and decent work in education.

 

Long working hours can increase deaths from heart disease and stroke, say ILO and WHO

It was noted by ILO News on 17th May that the number of people working long hours globally had increased over time, to an estimated 479 million workers, or nine per cent of the global population.

It was further noted that long working hours had led to 745,000 deaths from ischemic heart disease and stroke in 2016, a 29 per cent increase since 2000, according to new estimates  from the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

It was also reported that in a first global analysis of the loss of life and health from these two diseases associated with working long hours, WHO and ILO had estimated that in 2016, 398,000 people died from stroke and 347,000 from heart diseases attributable to having worked 55 or more hours per week

 

 

ILO teams with J.P Morgan to support women entrepreneurs

It was reported by ILO News on 17th May that women entrepreneurs in Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand looking to recover from the pandemic and build long-term business resilience could receive support through a new initiative launched by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and JPMorgan Chase Foundation.

 

 

COVID-19: 98% of world’s workers not getting the basic support they need

 On 18th May, ITUC reported that a new global study from the ITUC and UNI Global Union had found that 98% of the world’s workers were not getting the sick pay, wage replacement and social benefits they need to address the challenges of COVID-19.

It was further reported that this ground-breaking global analysis ranked 181 governmental responses to the pandemic and places Argentina at the top. It was also noted that just over half of the governments in the study recognise Covid-19 as an occupational disease through a formal regulatory process.

 

First ever virtual International Labour Conference opens

For the first time in its history the International Labour Conference is taking place online and will be divided into two segments during the course of the year.

 

On 20th May, ILO News reported that the 109th International Labour Conference  (ILC) had opened, the first to take place virtually due to restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was noted that Omar Zniber, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Morocco to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva, had been elected President of the Conference in its opening session, on 20 May 2021 and that he described his election as “a source of pride” for his country and the African region.

He was quoted as saying: “As it is often said, the International Labour Conference is the global parliament of labour, affording governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations of Member States a unique opportunity to hold tripartite discussions about social and labour issues, as well as matters related to the world of work”.

“This year, our Conference takes on a special format and is particularly significant, in view of its deferral last year for reasons we all know too well. Needless to say, high expectations have been placed in the work we will undertake over the next few weeks, and at the resumption of our session, later this year. I shall do my best, together with my Vice-Presidents, to guide our work in that spirit, and will spare no effort to ensure that this Conference is a success for all.”

 

ILO, Viet Nam join force to promote international labour standards and decent work for all

Viet Nam plans to ratify 15 more ILO Conventions, including a core convention on freedom of association, during the 2021-30 period.

It was reported by the ILO on 20th May that the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Vietnamese Government had signed a Memorandum of Understanding to push the promotion of international labour standards in Viet Nam over the next 10 years.

It was noted that the document for the 2021-30 period had been signed on 20 May 2021 in Hanoi by representatives of ILO Viet Nam and the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA).

It was also noted that both sides had agreed to work together to promote the ratification and implementation of international labour standards in Viet Nam through a cooperation framework between the MOLISA and ILO Viet Nam, and ensure the participation of representatives of workers and employers in the entire process.

 

ILO to release new analysis of labour market and social trends

 On 21st May ILO News reported that the International Labour Organization (ILO) would publish a new edition of its World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2021 (WESO Trends), which looks at the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global labour market and the prospects for recovery.

It was noted that the WESO Trends and accompanying press release would be published on Thursday 27 May 2021. It was also noted that it covers the extent and consequences of the labour market disruption caused by the crisis, including the effects on inequality, working poverty and youth employment and also outlines principles for a comprehensive and human-centred recovery strategy.

 

 

Help educators now so they can help build a better future of work, says ILO

ILO News reported on 24th May that education workers needed more support if they were to provide the additional learning needed for building a more resilient and sustainable recovery from the pandemic.

It was also noted that there was an urgent need to invest in education and in training and decent work for education workers, so they could contribute to the post-COVID-19 recovery, according to delegates at an ILO technical meeting on the future of work in the education sector .

It was further reported that effective lifelong learning and quality education for all were essential for a better future of work. It was said that if teachers, trainers and support workers were to fill this need and pave the way to address the challenges that lie ahead, they would need to master new technologies and learning techniques, understand the skills’ needs of the labour market and receive support to deal with their expanded responsibilities.

 

 

New legislation in Qatar provides greater protection to workers from heat stress

Prohibited summertime working hours expanded by six weeks and annual health checks for workers introduced.

On 26th May, ILO News reported that as temperatures began to soar across the Gulf region, Qatar had adopted new rules providing further protection to workers from heat stress.

It was noted that a Ministerial Decision announced on 26 May 2021 has introduced a significant expansion of summertime working hours during which outdoor work is prohibited.

It was further noted that under the new rules which came into force immediately, workers cannot work outside between 10:00 and 15:30 from 1 June to 15 September. This, it was said has replaced legislation from 2007, that had prohibited work in outdoor workspaces from 11:30 to 15:00, between 15 June and 31 August.

It also reported that in addition, regardless of the time, all work must stop if the wet-bulb globe temperature (WBGT) rises beyond 32.1 °C in a particular workplace. The WBGT index it was said, takes into consideration ambient temperature, humidity, solar radiation and wind speed.

 

Tokyo Olympics: IOC must review COVID-19 protocols with players’ unions and experts

The ITUC reported on 27th May that they were calling for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to fix the deeply flawed COVID-19 protocols it has published for the Tokyo Olympics, through engagement with sports players’ unions and pandemic experts.

It was also noted that an article published on 25 May in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine reveals major deficits in the IOC plans, which expose athletes, workers, volunteers and potentially people in athletes’ home countries to avoidable risk of infection.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, was reported as saying: “An event that would bring together people from virtually every country in the world when the global pandemic is raging could only be envisaged on the basis of the most up-to-date scientific knowledge. This is not the case with the IOC’s ‘Playbook’ for the Tokyo Olympics.

“Best-practice occupational health and safety standards on ventilation, testing, sharing accommodation, prevention of transmission and other vital protections are not included in the IOC’s plans. Participation in the Olympics is the summit of their sporting experience for many thousands of athletes, and everyone involved in the Games deserves the maximum protection, not arrangements that cut corners and expose people to risks that can be prevented and avoided.”

 

Saudi Arabia reinforces its commitment to eradicate forced labour in all its forms

Saudi Arabia ratifies the Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention

 

On 27th May ILO News reported that the previous day, Saudi Arabia had deposited the instrument of ratification of the Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 , so becoming the fifty-second country worldwide and the first among members of the Gulf Cooperation Council to ratify this instrument. It was noted that with this ratification, Saudi Arabia was demonstrating its firm commitment to combating forced labour in all its forms, including human trafficking.

It was also noted that having been overwhelmingly adopted during the 2014 International Labour Conference, the Protocol reinforces the international legal framework for combating forced labour. It was said that it commits States to take effective measures to prevent forced labour, sanction its perpetrators, and protect its victims and ensure their access to justice and remedies.

It was further reported that according to the latest global estimates , there are still 25 million men, women and children trapped in forced labour.   The ILO  has recently highlighted that the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the risk of the most vulnerable workers, including migrant workers, to get tricked and trapped in forced labour. The risk of increasing debt bondage is particularly important.

 

 

 

Iraq ratifies Convention No. 184 and Convention No. 185

ILO News reported on 27th May that on 21 May 2021, His Excellency Ambassador Abdul Karim Hashim Mostafa, Permanent Representative of Iraq had presented the instruments of ratification for the Safety and Health in Agriculture Convention, 2001 (No. 184)  and the Seafarers' Identity Documents Convention (Revised), 2003, as amended (No. 185)  to the ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder.

It was noted that the ILO Director-General Guy Ryder had welcomed the ratifications, stating “With these ratifications, Iraq has re-affirmed its commitment to decent work and the ILO’s standards system, during this time of crisis.”  Upon receipt of the instrument of ratification of Convention No. 184, he stated “I am pleased to welcome Iraq’s formal commitment to improving occupational safety and health in the agricultural sector, in consultation with the social partners. Agriculture is one of the most hazardous economic sectors in the world. By ratifying Convention No. 184, the Government of Iraq confirms its determination to prevent accidents and occupational diseases in this sector in a continuous and sustainable manner. This is the 10th occupational safety and health Convention ratified by Iraq - I welcome this significant step towards building and strengthening a preventative safety and health culture.” Furthet o this, turning to Convention No. 185, Mr Ryder had indicated “It is with great pleasure that I welcome Iraq among the States parties to Convention No. 185. This ratification strengthens Iraq’s commitment to ensuring decent working and living conditions for seafarers by facilitating their rights to shore leave, transit and transfer. The vital importance of these elements for seafarers’ general well-being has clearly been exposed during the crisis currently faced by the maritime sector as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

 

 

 

Tokyo Olympics: IOC must review COVID-19 protocols with players’ unions and experts

On 27th the ITUC reported that they were calling for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to fix the deeply flawed COVID-19 protocols it had published for the Tokyo Olympics, through engagement with sports players’ unions and pandemic experts.

It was argued that an article published on 25 May in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine revealed major deficits in the IOC plans, which expose athletes, workers, volunteers and potentially people in athletes’ home countries to avoidable risk of infection.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, was reported as saying: “An event that would bring together people from virtually every country in the world when the global pandemic is raging could only be envisaged on the basis of the most up-to-date scientific knowledge. This is not the case with the IOC’s ‘Playbook’ for the Tokyo Olympics.

“Best-practice occupational health and safety standards on ventilation, testing, sharing accommodation, prevention of transmission and other vital protections are not included in the IOC’s plans. Participation in the Olympics is the summit of their sporting experience for many thousands of athletes, and everyone involved in the Games deserves the maximum protection, not arrangements that cut corners and expose people to risks that can be prevented and avoided.”

 

Hong Kong: Lee Cheuk Yan given further jail sentence for pro-democracy protest

On 28th May, it was reported by the ITUC that Lee Cheuk Yan, General Secretary of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, had been sentenced to 18 months in prison for ‘inciting, organising and participating in an unauthorised assembly’ on 1 October 2019.

 

It was noted that this was in addition to an 18 month sentence he received in April 2021 for another pro-democracy event in August 2019.

It was further reported that Lee Cheuk Yan will serve the two sentences concurrently. Taking into account time already served, he will be imprisoned for 20 months in total.

‘The movement will continue’

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, was reported as saying: “The international trade union movement stands with Lee Cheuk Yan and Hong Kong’s democracy movement throughout this difficult time.

“Beijing’s strong-arm regime must realise that they will not crush the working people of Hong Kong. Their wish for democracy will not end and the movement will continue with global support.”

 

Peter Sagar, A Living Tradition CIC

As workers around the world who have lost their lives to workplace accidents and disease are commemorated on 28 April, trade unions are pressing two key demands to save lives.

At the end of April, ITUC  was calling for two key demands to save lives.

1. Occupational health and safety must be given the status of a fundamental right by the International Labour Organization (ILO), alongside the existing fundamental rights: freedom of association, collective bargaining and protection from discrimination, forced labour and child labour. A landmark decision by the ILO Governing Body in March means this should happen at the ILO Conference in June 2022.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, was reported as saying: “This is an issue of the utmost importance and it has already taken too long to resolve. Poor workplace health and safety costs some 2.78 million lives every year.

“Making occupational health and safety a fundamental ILO right will increase the accountability of governments and employers to stop the carnage and give more leverage to unions and workplace safety representatives. Only bad employers would resist this and we are prepared to fight hard to save lives.”

2. COVID-19 must be classified as an occupational disease. This would provide enhanced protection for workers and enable access to compensation funds for families of workers who die or are infected with Covid-19 at work. Last year, global unions called on the ILO to list Covid-19 as an occupational disease and an initial ITUC survey of 58 countries shows that, so far, only 26 have taken this step. In some cases this coverage is restricted to workers in the health sector.

Sharan Burrow was reported as saying that, “most Covid-19 outbreaks happen in workplaces, including schools. Safe workplaces would play a crucial role in suppressing the spread of the pandemic.

“Access to compensation for work-related Covid-19 is especially important, in particular because it has killed many workers and can cause debilitating illness long after infection.

“While we welcome coverage of health workers, it is wrong that some countries have excluded others such as meat packing and warehouse workers who, through poor regulation and employer neglect, have seen high rates of infection.

Every worker deserves to be covered. Those countries that have failed to act must do so without further delay, and ILO listing would encourage that”.

The ITUC was also reported as  calling for a massive boost in the production of vaccines against the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19. This must include the removal of all barriers, including intellectual property and profit-gouging, to ensure that vaccines, tests, treatments and other public health tools are available to all, without discrimination.

 

Is the future ready for youth? Youth employment policies for evolving labour markets

On 3rd May, ILO News carried an interview with Sukti Dasgupta, ILO Employment Department Chief of the Employment, Labour Markets and Youth Branch, and Juan Chacaltana, Senior Employment Policies Specialist.   The interview looked at youth employment policies for changing labour markets.

 

Tourism: An opportunity to rethink the future of the industry

It was noted by ILO News on 4th May, that tourism had been among the hardest hit of all sectors by the COVID-19 pandemic. It was reported that women, youth, and workers in the informal economy were the most at risk from tourism sector job losses and business closures and that building back better from the COVID-19 pandemic represented an opportunity to rethink the future of the tourism sector, including how it contributes to the lives of 300 million workers worldwide.

ILO launches the 7th Global Media Competition on Labour Migration

Journalists are invited to submit their best stories on labour migration, especially those relating to domestic workers and the impact of COVID-19 on labour migration and fair recruitment.

On 6th May ILO News reported that the International Labour Organization (ILO) was launching its seventh annual Global Media Competition , with the aim being to recognize fair and balanced reports that contribute to the elimination of xenophobia and discrimination against migrant workers, and highlight the positive contributions migrants make to society.

It was noted that this year, judges are particularly interested in coverage of the impact of COVID-19 on labour migration and fair recruitment, including those relating to migrant care workers and that stories about migrant domestic workers will also be viewed favourably, since this year marks the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the ILO’s Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 (No. 189) .

It was also reported that the competition is open to professional and student journalists and will be judged by a panel of international migration and journalism experts. It was said that the winning entries will be selected according to a range of criteria including creativity, accuracy, balance and the positive portrayal of labour migration, with a focus on the protection of migrants.

 

 

ILO launches the 7th Global Media Competition on Labour Migration

Journalists are invited to submit their best stories on labour migration, especially those relating to domestic workers and the impact of COVID-19 on labour migration and fair recruitment.

On 6th May, ILO News reported that the International Labour Organization (ILO) was launching its seventh annual Global Media Competition . It was noted that its aim is to recognize fair and balanced reports that contribute to the elimination of xenophobia and discrimination against migrant workers, and highlight the positive contributions migrants make to society.

It was also reported that this year, judges are particularly interested in coverage of the impact of COVID-19 on labour migration and fair recruitment, including those relating to migrant care workers. Stories about migrant domestic workers will also be viewed favourably, since this year marks the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the ILO’s Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 (No. 189) .

 

 

UN leaders urge companies relying on shipping supply chains to undertake urgent measures to protect seafarers’ rights

 

UNITED NATIONS, New York, 6 May 2021  On 6th May, the ILO News reported that a wide-ranging human rights checklist had that day been issued to business enterprises engaged with the maritime industry to protect seafarers stranded on ships due to new COVID-19 variants and government-imposed travel restrictions, under a joint initiative by the UN Global Compact, the UN Human Rights Office, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

 

Colombia: Duque government must end violence against protestors

 On 5th May, the ITUC reported that it was expressing its support for the people of Colombia as they faced a brutal crackdown by the government of President Iván Duque.

It was noteds that working people in Colombia, led by an alliance of trade unions and social groups, had taken to the streets every day since 28 April against the far-right Duque government and its planned tax reform, which would deepen inequality. It was said that the scale of the demonstrations had forced the government to withdraw the bill.

It was further reported that this week the government had deployed the notorious Anti-Riot Squad (ESMAD) across the country with more than 1,089 cases of violence reported.

 

 

US administration’s support for COVID-19 vaccines’ TRIPS waiver a huge step forward

 On 6th May the ITUC reported that the announcement by the Biden administration that it would support the waiver of WTO TRIPS rules for COVID-19 vaccines was a major step towards bringing the pandemic under control.

 

The waiver, proposed by India and South Africa, was reported as having support from many other governments, but the European Union, the UK and Australia in particular had yet to agree.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, was reported as saying: “US support will hopefully break the stalemate on this vital question. All governments must stand up to the greed of pharmaceutical companies putting profits before people. The WTO TRIPS Council meeting on 8 and 9 June must be the moment to settle this matter, and in the meantime preparations to implement the waiver should be underway.”

It was noted that the TRIPS rules mean only the companies that own patents on newer vaccine technologies, such as mRNA vaccines, can make the vaccines and that this would limit the speed with which vaccines such as mRNA vaccines can be supplied.

It was also noted that richer countries had bought up these limited stocks, leaving little for poorer countries through the WHO COVAX facility. As a result, rich countries, it was said were  vaccinating a person a minute, including groups not at higher risk of death or severe disease, while most poor countries had yet to vaccinate anyone.

 

Violence in Israel and Palestine must stop

 

On 11th May the ITUC reported that it was calling for an immediate cessation of violence in Israel and Palestine, and urgent talks through the UN and the Middle East Quad to tackle the immediate causes of the violence and the underlying injustices from the Israeli occupation.

It was noted that Israeli airstrikes on Gaza had killed 24 people, including nine children and that these had been launched in retaliation for rockets fired from Gaza, which had injured more than 20 people.  It was also noted that these attacks had come after days of violence, in particular in Jerusalem, where hundreds of Palestinians had been injured in demonstrations against forced evictions of Palestinian families by the Israeli authorities so that their houses could be handed over to Israelis.

It was also reported that the planned evictions, if implemented, would constitute a gross violation of Israel’s obligations under international law.

Root cause

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, was reported as saying: “We utterly condemn the violence and in particular the loss of life in all cases. It is also heart breaking to see Palestinian families facing being thrown out of their homes to make way for Israeli settlers. Yet again, the unjust and illegal occupation of Palestinian lands, and the perpetuation of the occupation of Palestine by Israel, are the root cause.

“The only acceptable and sustainable solution is the full implementation of the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions aimed at ending the occupation, with negotiations bringing about the existence of two sovereign states: Palestine and Israel.”

It was further reported that in another development, Ashraf Al-A’war, a Secretary of the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions, had been detained on 8 May by Israeli security forces and subjected to questioning about his trade union activities until late that night. An Israeli court had then prohibited him from taking part in any trade union or political gathering for a period of one month.

“This is a completely unacceptable example of harassment of a trade union official in the course of his trade union work. It is a clear violation of ILO Convention 87 on Freedom of Association. The restriction on his trade union activities must be lifted immediately, and he should receive an apology for the mistreatment he has experienced at the hands of the Israeli security forces and the court,” added Sharan Burrow.

 

ITUC welcomes WHO independent panel report

 It was reported on 12th May by the ITUC that they welcomed the far-reaching and essential recommendations of the Independent Panel on Pandemic Preparedness and Response (IPPPR), chaired by Helen Clark and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Immediate and longer-term action was said to be  needed by revitalised multilateral institutions.

It was noted that the ITUC backs the panel’s vital and urgent call for sharing wealth, productive capacity and intellectual property. It was said that the World Trade Organization needs to enact a pandemic TRIPS waiver, and the G20 needs to provide the resources to ramp up productive capacity, vaccination and testing.

It was further reported that as well as the raft of reforms to the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended in the report, the WHO needed to rely more on the ILO to ensure that jobs and workers are protected from future pandemics, and it needs to consult with unions and employers more effectively and consistently about how to manage pandemics in, and their effect on, workplaces.

 

 

Extending social protection to the culture and creative sector

It was reported by the ILO on 13th may that the culture and creative sector is among the sectors hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. It was noted that Lockdown measures had led to the closure of theatres and cinemas, and the suspension or cancellation of movie, television and music productions. It was further noted that many workers in the industry had lost their jobs and had had no social protection to help them. A new ILO study was said to show that extending social protection to the culture and creative sector is possible.

 

109th International Labour Conference to be held virtually, opening in May

On 17th May ILO News reported that the 109th Session of the International Labour Conference would, for the first time in its history, be held virtually, reflecting changes imposed by the COVID-19 crisis.

It was also noted that in another special arrangement the ILC would open on 20 May (13:00 - Geneva time) to elect its Officers and set the Conference in motion. It was aais that the Conference would then proceed in two parts; the first in June 2021 and a second in November-December 2021.

The June sittings were said to be starting on 3 June, with meetings of the Conference committees that are expected to run for two and a half weeks.

It was then said that work in plenary will commence on 7 June and will be addressed by the President of the Swiss Confederation. The ILO’s Director-General, Guy Ryder and the Chairperson of the Governing Body will also present their reports, which will cover two years. This will be followed by the introductory statements of the Presidents of the ILC’s Employers and Workers groups.

 

Educators and the changing world of education and work

On 17th May, the ILO noted that effective lifelong learning and quality education for all was essential for a better future of work. It was noted that if teachers, trainers and support workers were to fill this need they would need to master new technologies and learning techniques and receive support to deal with their expanded responsibilities. It was further reported that representatives of governments, employers and workers were meeting at the ILO to discuss strategies for promoting quality learning and decent work in education.

 

Long working hours can increase deaths from heart disease and stroke, say ILO and WHO

It was noted by ILO News on 17th May that the number of people working long hours globally had increased over time, to an estimated 479 million workers, or nine per cent of the global population.

It was further noted that long working hours had led to 745,000 deaths from ischemic heart disease and stroke in 2016, a 29 per cent increase since 2000, according to new estimates  from the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

It was also reported that in a first global analysis of the loss of life and health from these two diseases associated with working long hours, WHO and ILO had estimated that in 2016, 398,000 people died from stroke and 347,000 from heart diseases attributable to having worked 55 or more hours per week

 

 

ILO teams with J.P Morgan to support women entrepreneurs

It was reported by ILO News on 17th May that women entrepreneurs in Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand looking to recover from the pandemic and build long-term business resilience could receive support through a new initiative launched by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and JPMorgan Chase Foundation.

 

 

COVID-19: 98% of world’s workers not getting the basic support they need

 On 18th May, ITUC reported that a new global study from the ITUC and UNI Global Union had found that 98% of the world’s workers were not getting the sick pay, wage replacement and social benefits they need to address the challenges of COVID-19.

It was further reported that this ground-breaking global analysis ranked 181 governmental responses to the pandemic and places Argentina at the top. It was also noted that just over half of the governments in the study recognise Covid-19 as an occupational disease through a formal regulatory process.

 

First ever virtual International Labour Conference opens

For the first time in its history the International Labour Conference is taking place online and will be divided into two segments during the course of the year.

 

On 20th May, ILO News reported that the 109th International Labour Conference  (ILC) had opened, the first to take place virtually due to restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was noted that Omar Zniber, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Morocco to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva, had been elected President of the Conference in its opening session, on 20 May 2021 and that he described his election as “a source of pride” for his country and the African region.

He was quoted as saying: “As it is often said, the International Labour Conference is the global parliament of labour, affording governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations of Member States a unique opportunity to hold tripartite discussions about social and labour issues, as well as matters related to the world of work”.

“This year, our Conference takes on a special format and is particularly significant, in view of its deferral last year for reasons we all know too well. Needless to say, high expectations have been placed in the work we will undertake over the next few weeks, and at the resumption of our session, later this year. I shall do my best, together with my Vice-Presidents, to guide our work in that spirit, and will spare no effort to ensure that this Conference is a success for all.”

 

ILO, Viet Nam join force to promote international labour standards and decent work for all

Viet Nam plans to ratify 15 more ILO Conventions, including a core convention on freedom of association, during the 2021-30 period.

It was reported by the ILO on 20th May that the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Vietnamese Government had signed a Memorandum of Understanding to push the promotion of international labour standards in Viet Nam over the next 10 years.

It was noted that the document for the 2021-30 period had been signed on 20 May 2021 in Hanoi by representatives of ILO Viet Nam and the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA).

It was also noted that both sides had agreed to work together to promote the ratification and implementation of international labour standards in Viet Nam through a cooperation framework between the MOLISA and ILO Viet Nam, and ensure the participation of representatives of workers and employers in the entire process.

 

ILO to release new analysis of labour market and social trends

 On 21st May ILO News reported that the International Labour Organization (ILO) would publish a new edition of its World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2021 (WESO Trends), which looks at the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global labour market and the prospects for recovery.

It was noted that the WESO Trends and accompanying press release would be published on Thursday 27 May 2021. It was also noted that it covers the extent and consequences of the labour market disruption caused by the crisis, including the effects on inequality, working poverty and youth employment and also outlines principles for a comprehensive and human-centred recovery strategy.

 

 

Help educators now so they can help build a better future of work, says ILO

ILO News reported on 24th May that education workers needed more support if they were to provide the additional learning needed for building a more resilient and sustainable recovery from the pandemic.

It was also noted that there was an urgent need to invest in education and in training and decent work for education workers, so they could contribute to the post-COVID-19 recovery, according to delegates at an ILO technical meeting on the future of work in the education sector .

It was further reported that effective lifelong learning and quality education for all were essential for a better future of work. It was said that if teachers, trainers and support workers were to fill this need and pave the way to address the challenges that lie ahead, they would need to master new technologies and learning techniques, understand the skills’ needs of the labour market and receive support to deal with their expanded responsibilities.

 

 

New legislation in Qatar provides greater protection to workers from heat stress

Prohibited summertime working hours expanded by six weeks and annual health checks for workers introduced.

On 26th May, ILO News reported that as temperatures began to soar across the Gulf region, Qatar had adopted new rules providing further protection to workers from heat stress.

It was noted that a Ministerial Decision announced on 26 May 2021 has introduced a significant expansion of summertime working hours during which outdoor work is prohibited.

It was further noted that under the new rules which came into force immediately, workers cannot work outside between 10:00 and 15:30 from 1 June to 15 September. This, it was said has replaced legislation from 2007, that had prohibited work in outdoor workspaces from 11:30 to 15:00, between 15 June and 31 August.

It also reported that in addition, regardless of the time, all work must stop if the wet-bulb globe temperature (WBGT) rises beyond 32.1 °C in a particular workplace. The WBGT index it was said, takes into consideration ambient temperature, humidity, solar radiation and wind speed.

 

Tokyo Olympics: IOC must review COVID-19 protocols with players’ unions and experts

The ITUC reported on 27th May that they were calling for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to fix the deeply flawed COVID-19 protocols it has published for the Tokyo Olympics, through engagement with sports players’ unions and pandemic experts.

It was also noted that an article published on 25 May in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine reveals major deficits in the IOC plans, which expose athletes, workers, volunteers and potentially people in athletes’ home countries to avoidable risk of infection.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, was reported as saying: “An event that would bring together people from virtually every country in the world when the global pandemic is raging could only be envisaged on the basis of the most up-to-date scientific knowledge. This is not the case with the IOC’s ‘Playbook’ for the Tokyo Olympics.

“Best-practice occupational health and safety standards on ventilation, testing, sharing accommodation, prevention of transmission and other vital protections are not included in the IOC’s plans. Participation in the Olympics is the summit of their sporting experience for many thousands of athletes, and everyone involved in the Games deserves the maximum protection, not arrangements that cut corners and expose people to risks that can be prevented and avoided.”

 

Saudi Arabia reinforces its commitment to eradicate forced labour in all its forms

Saudi Arabia ratifies the Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention

 

On 27th May ILO News reported that the previous day, Saudi Arabia had deposited the instrument of ratification of the Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 , so becoming the fifty-second country worldwide and the first among members of the Gulf Cooperation Council to ratify this instrument. It was noted that with this ratification, Saudi Arabia was demonstrating its firm commitment to combating forced labour in all its forms, including human trafficking.

It was also noted that having been overwhelmingly adopted during the 2014 International Labour Conference, the Protocol reinforces the international legal framework for combating forced labour. It was said that it commits States to take effective measures to prevent forced labour, sanction its perpetrators, and protect its victims and ensure their access to justice and remedies.

It was further reported that according to the latest global estimates , there are still 25 million men, women and children trapped in forced labour.   The ILO  has recently highlighted that the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the risk of the most vulnerable workers, including migrant workers, to get tricked and trapped in forced labour. The risk of increasing debt bondage is particularly important.

 

 

 

Iraq ratifies Convention No. 184 and Convention No. 185

ILO News reported on 27th May that on 21 May 2021, His Excellency Ambassador Abdul Karim Hashim Mostafa, Permanent Representative of Iraq had presented the instruments of ratification for the Safety and Health in Agriculture Convention, 2001 (No. 184)  and the Seafarers' Identity Documents Convention (Revised), 2003, as amended (No. 185)  to the ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder.

It was noted that the ILO Director-General Guy Ryder had welcomed the ratifications, stating “With these ratifications, Iraq has re-affirmed its commitment to decent work and the ILO’s standards system, during this time of crisis.”  Upon receipt of the instrument of ratification of Convention No. 184, he stated “I am pleased to welcome Iraq’s formal commitment to improving occupational safety and health in the agricultural sector, in consultation with the social partners. Agriculture is one of the most hazardous economic sectors in the world. By ratifying Convention No. 184, the Government of Iraq confirms its determination to prevent accidents and occupational diseases in this sector in a continuous and sustainable manner. This is the 10th occupational safety and health Convention ratified by Iraq - I welcome this significant step towards building and strengthening a preventative safety and health culture.” Furthet o this, turning to Convention No. 185, Mr Ryder had indicated “It is with great pleasure that I welcome Iraq among the States parties to Convention No. 185. This ratification strengthens Iraq’s commitment to ensuring decent working and living conditions for seafarers by facilitating their rights to shore leave, transit and transfer. The vital importance of these elements for seafarers’ general well-being has clearly been exposed during the crisis currently faced by the maritime sector as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

 

 

 

Tokyo Olympics: IOC must review COVID-19 protocols with players’ unions and experts

On 27th the ITUC reported that they were calling for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to fix the deeply flawed COVID-19 protocols it had published for the Tokyo Olympics, through engagement with sports players’ unions and pandemic experts.

It was argued that an article published on 25 May in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine revealed major deficits in the IOC plans, which expose athletes, workers, volunteers and potentially people in athletes’ home countries to avoidable risk of infection.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, was reported as saying: “An event that would bring together people from virtually every country in the world when the global pandemic is raging could only be envisaged on the basis of the most up-to-date scientific knowledge. This is not the case with the IOC’s ‘Playbook’ for the Tokyo Olympics.

“Best-practice occupational health and safety standards on ventilation, testing, sharing accommodation, prevention of transmission and other vital protections are not included in the IOC’s plans. Participation in the Olympics is the summit of their sporting experience for many thousands of athletes, and everyone involved in the Games deserves the maximum protection, not arrangements that cut corners and expose people to risks that can be prevented and avoided.”

 

Hong Kong: Lee Cheuk Yan given further jail sentence for pro-democracy protest

On 28th May, it was reported by the ITUC that Lee Cheuk Yan, General Secretary of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, had been sentenced to 18 months in prison for ‘inciting, organising and participating in an unauthorised assembly’ on 1 October 2019.

 

It was noted that this was in addition to an 18 month sentence he received in April 2021 for another pro-democracy event in August 2019.

It was further reported that Lee Cheuk Yan will serve the two sentences concurrently. Taking into account time already served, he will be imprisoned for 20 months in total.

‘The movement will continue’

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, was reported as saying: “The international trade union movement stands with Lee Cheuk Yan and Hong Kong’s democracy movement throughout this difficult time.

“Beijing’s strong-arm regime must realise that they will not crush the working people of Hong Kong. Their wish for democracy will not end and the movement will continue with global support.”

 

Peter Sagar, A Living Tradition CIC

As workers around the world who have lost their lives to workplace accidents and disease are commemorated on 28 April, trade unions are pressing two key demands to save lives.

At the end of April, ITUC  was calling for two key demands to save lives.

1. Occupational health and safety must be given the status of a fundamental right by the International Labour Organization (ILO), alongside the existing fundamental rights: freedom of association, collective bargaining and protection from discrimination, forced labour and child labour. A landmark decision by the ILO Governing Body in March means this should happen at the ILO Conference in June 2022.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, was reported as saying: “This is an issue of the utmost importance and it has already taken too long to resolve. Poor workplace health and safety costs some 2.78 million lives every year.

“Making occupational health and safety a fundamental ILO right will increase the accountability of governments and employers to stop the carnage and give more leverage to unions and workplace safety representatives. Only bad employers would resist this and we are prepared to fight hard to save lives.”

2. COVID-19 must be classified as an occupational disease. This would provide enhanced protection for workers and enable access to compensation funds for families of workers who die or are infected with Covid-19 at work. Last year, global unions called on the ILO to list Covid-19 as an occupational disease and an initial ITUC survey of 58 countries shows that, so far, only 26 have taken this step. In some cases this coverage is restricted to workers in the health sector.

Sharan Burrow was reported as saying that, “most Covid-19 outbreaks happen in workplaces, including schools. Safe workplaces would play a crucial role in suppressing the spread of the pandemic.

“Access to compensation for work-related Covid-19 is especially important, in particular because it has killed many workers and can cause debilitating illness long after infection.

“While we welcome coverage of health workers, it is wrong that some countries have excluded others such as meat packing and warehouse workers who, through poor regulation and employer neglect, have seen high rates of infection.

Every worker deserves to be covered. Those countries that have failed to act must do so without further delay, and ILO listing would encourage that”.

The ITUC was also reported as  calling for a massive boost in the production of vaccines against the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19. This must include the removal of all barriers, including intellectual property and profit-gouging, to ensure that vaccines, tests, treatments and other public health tools are available to all, without discrimination.

 

Is the future ready for youth? Youth employment policies for evolving labour markets

On 3rd May, ILO News carried an interview with Sukti Dasgupta, ILO Employment Department Chief of the Employment, Labour Markets and Youth Branch, and Juan Chacaltana, Senior Employment Policies Specialist.   The interview looked at youth employment policies for changing labour markets.

 

Tourism: An opportunity to rethink the future of the industry

It was noted by ILO News on 4th May, that tourism had been among the hardest hit of all sectors by the COVID-19 pandemic. It was reported that women, youth, and workers in the informal economy were the most at risk from tourism sector job losses and business closures and that building back better from the COVID-19 pandemic represented an opportunity to rethink the future of the tourism sector, including how it contributes to the lives of 300 million workers worldwide.

ILO launches the 7th Global Media Competition on Labour Migration

Journalists are invited to submit their best stories on labour migration, especially those relating to domestic workers and the impact of COVID-19 on labour migration and fair recruitment.

On 6th May ILO News reported that the International Labour Organization (ILO) was launching its seventh annual Global Media Competition , with the aim being to recognize fair and balanced reports that contribute to the elimination of xenophobia and discrimination against migrant workers, and highlight the positive contributions migrants make to society.

It was noted that this year, judges are particularly interested in coverage of the impact of COVID-19 on labour migration and fair recruitment, including those relating to migrant care workers and that stories about migrant domestic workers will also be viewed favourably, since this year marks the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the ILO’s Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 (No. 189) .

It was also reported that the competition is open to professional and student journalists and will be judged by a panel of international migration and journalism experts. It was said that the winning entries will be selected according to a range of criteria including creativity, accuracy, balance and the positive portrayal of labour migration, with a focus on the protection of migrants.

 

 

ILO launches the 7th Global Media Competition on Labour Migration

Journalists are invited to submit their best stories on labour migration, especially those relating to domestic workers and the impact of COVID-19 on labour migration and fair recruitment.

On 6th May, ILO News reported that the International Labour Organization (ILO) was launching its seventh annual Global Media Competition . It was noted that its aim is to recognize fair and balanced reports that contribute to the elimination of xenophobia and discrimination against migrant workers, and highlight the positive contributions migrants make to society.

It was also reported that this year, judges are particularly interested in coverage of the impact of COVID-19 on labour migration and fair recruitment, including those relating to migrant care workers. Stories about migrant domestic workers will also be viewed favourably, since this year marks the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the ILO’s Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 (No. 189) .

 

 

UN leaders urge companies relying on shipping supply chains to undertake urgent measures to protect seafarers’ rights

 

UNITED NATIONS, New York, 6 May 2021  On 6th May, the ILO News reported that a wide-ranging human rights checklist had that day been issued to business enterprises engaged with the maritime industry to protect seafarers stranded on ships due to new COVID-19 variants and government-imposed travel restrictions, under a joint initiative by the UN Global Compact, the UN Human Rights Office, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

 

Colombia: Duque government must end violence against protestors

 On 5th May, the ITUC reported that it was expressing its support for the people of Colombia as they faced a brutal crackdown by the government of President Iván Duque.

It was noteds that working people in Colombia, led by an alliance of trade unions and social groups, had taken to the streets every day since 28 April against the far-right Duque government and its planned tax reform, which would deepen inequality. It was said that the scale of the demonstrations had forced the government to withdraw the bill.

It was further reported that this week the government had deployed the notorious Anti-Riot Squad (ESMAD) across the country with more than 1,089 cases of violence reported.

 

 

US administration’s support for COVID-19 vaccines’ TRIPS waiver a huge step forward

 On 6th May the ITUC reported that the announcement by the Biden administration that it would support the waiver of WTO TRIPS rules for COVID-19 vaccines was a major step towards bringing the pandemic under control.

 

The waiver, proposed by India and South Africa, was reported as having support from many other governments, but the European Union, the UK and Australia in particular had yet to agree.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, was reported as saying: “US support will hopefully break the stalemate on this vital question. All governments must stand up to the greed of pharmaceutical companies putting profits before people. The WTO TRIPS Council meeting on 8 and 9 June must be the moment to settle this matter, and in the meantime preparations to implement the waiver should be underway.”

It was noted that the TRIPS rules mean only the companies that own patents on newer vaccine technologies, such as mRNA vaccines, can make the vaccines and that this would limit the speed with which vaccines such as mRNA vaccines can be supplied.

It was also noted that richer countries had bought up these limited stocks, leaving little for poorer countries through the WHO COVAX facility. As a result, rich countries, it was said were  vaccinating a person a minute, including groups not at higher risk of death or severe disease, while most poor countries had yet to vaccinate anyone.

 

Violence in Israel and Palestine must stop

 

On 11th May the ITUC reported that it was calling for an immediate cessation of violence in Israel and Palestine, and urgent talks through the UN and the Middle East Quad to tackle the immediate causes of the violence and the underlying injustices from the Israeli occupation.

It was noted that Israeli airstrikes on Gaza had killed 24 people, including nine children and that these had been launched in retaliation for rockets fired from Gaza, which had injured more than 20 people.  It was also noted that these attacks had come after days of violence, in particular in Jerusalem, where hundreds of Palestinians had been injured in demonstrations against forced evictions of Palestinian families by the Israeli authorities so that their houses could be handed over to Israelis.

It was also reported that the planned evictions, if implemented, would constitute a gross violation of Israel’s obligations under international law.

Root cause

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, was reported as saying: “We utterly condemn the violence and in particular the loss of life in all cases. It is also heart breaking to see Palestinian families facing being thrown out of their homes to make way for Israeli settlers. Yet again, the unjust and illegal occupation of Palestinian lands, and the perpetuation of the occupation of Palestine by Israel, are the root cause.

“The only acceptable and sustainable solution is the full implementation of the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions aimed at ending the occupation, with negotiations bringing about the existence of two sovereign states: Palestine and Israel.”

It was further reported that in another development, Ashraf Al-A’war, a Secretary of the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions, had been detained on 8 May by Israeli security forces and subjected to questioning about his trade union activities until late that night. An Israeli court had then prohibited him from taking part in any trade union or political gathering for a period of one month.

“This is a completely unacceptable example of harassment of a trade union official in the course of his trade union work. It is a clear violation of ILO Convention 87 on Freedom of Association. The restriction on his trade union activities must be lifted immediately, and he should receive an apology for the mistreatment he has experienced at the hands of the Israeli security forces and the court,” added Sharan Burrow.

 

ITUC welcomes WHO independent panel report

 It was reported on 12th May by the ITUC that they welcomed the far-reaching and essential recommendations of the Independent Panel on Pandemic Preparedness and Response (IPPPR), chaired by Helen Clark and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Immediate and longer-term action was said to be  needed by revitalised multilateral institutions.

It was noted that the ITUC backs the panel’s vital and urgent call for sharing wealth, productive capacity and intellectual property. It was said that the World Trade Organization needs to enact a pandemic TRIPS waiver, and the G20 needs to provide the resources to ramp up productive capacity, vaccination and testing.

It was further reported that as well as the raft of reforms to the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended in the report, the WHO needed to rely more on the ILO to ensure that jobs and workers are protected from future pandemics, and it needs to consult with unions and employers more effectively and consistently about how to manage pandemics in, and their effect on, workplaces.

 

 

Extending social protection to the culture and creative sector

It was reported by the ILO on 13th may that the culture and creative sector is among the sectors hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. It was noted that Lockdown measures had led to the closure of theatres and cinemas, and the suspension or cancellation of movie, television and music productions. It was further noted that many workers in the industry had lost their jobs and had had no social protection to help them. A new ILO study was said to show that extending social protection to the culture and creative sector is possible.

 

109th International Labour Conference to be held virtually, opening in May

On 17th May ILO News reported that the 109th Session of the International Labour Conference would, for the first time in its history, be held virtually, reflecting changes imposed by the COVID-19 crisis.

It was also noted that in another special arrangement the ILC would open on 20 May (13:00 - Geneva time) to elect its Officers and set the Conference in motion. It was aais that the Conference would then proceed in two parts; the first in June 2021 and a second in November-December 2021.

The June sittings were said to be starting on 3 June, with meetings of the Conference committees that are expected to run for two and a half weeks.

It was then said that work in plenary will commence on 7 June and will be addressed by the President of the Swiss Confederation. The ILO’s Director-General, Guy Ryder and the Chairperson of the Governing Body will also present their reports, which will cover two years. This will be followed by the introductory statements of the Presidents of the ILC’s Employers and Workers groups.

 

Educators and the changing world of education and work

On 17th May, the ILO noted that effective lifelong learning and quality education for all was essential for a better future of work. It was noted that if teachers, trainers and support workers were to fill this need they would need to master new technologies and learning techniques and receive support to deal with their expanded responsibilities. It was further reported that representatives of governments, employers and workers were meeting at the ILO to discuss strategies for promoting quality learning and decent work in education.

 

Long working hours can increase deaths from heart disease and stroke, say ILO and WHO

It was noted by ILO News on 17th May that the number of people working long hours globally had increased over time, to an estimated 479 million workers, or nine per cent of the global population.

It was further noted that long working hours had led to 745,000 deaths from ischemic heart disease and stroke in 2016, a 29 per cent increase since 2000, according to new estimates  from the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

It was also reported that in a first global analysis of the loss of life and health from these two diseases associated with working long hours, WHO and ILO had estimated that in 2016, 398,000 people died from stroke and 347,000 from heart diseases attributable to having worked 55 or more hours per week

 

 

ILO teams with J.P Morgan to support women entrepreneurs

It was reported by ILO News on 17th May that women entrepreneurs in Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand looking to recover from the pandemic and build long-term business resilience could receive support through a new initiative launched by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and JPMorgan Chase Foundation.

 

 

COVID-19: 98% of world’s workers not getting the basic support they need

 On 18th May, ITUC reported that a new global study from the ITUC and UNI Global Union had found that 98% of the world’s workers were not getting the sick pay, wage replacement and social benefits they need to address the challenges of COVID-19.

It was further reported that this ground-breaking global analysis ranked 181 governmental responses to the pandemic and places Argentina at the top. It was also noted that just over half of the governments in the study recognise Covid-19 as an occupational disease through a formal regulatory process.

 

First ever virtual International Labour Conference opens

For the first time in its history the International Labour Conference is taking place online and will be divided into two segments during the course of the year.

 

On 20th May, ILO News reported that the 109th International Labour Conference  (ILC) had opened, the first to take place virtually due to restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was noted that Omar Zniber, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Morocco to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva, had been elected President of the Conference in its opening session, on 20 May 2021 and that he described his election as “a source of pride” for his country and the African region.

He was quoted as saying: “As it is often said, the International Labour Conference is the global parliament of labour, affording governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations of Member States a unique opportunity to hold tripartite discussions about social and labour issues, as well as matters related to the world of work”.

“This year, our Conference takes on a special format and is particularly significant, in view of its deferral last year for reasons we all know too well. Needless to say, high expectations have been placed in the work we will undertake over the next few weeks, and at the resumption of our session, later this year. I shall do my best, together with my Vice-Presidents, to guide our work in that spirit, and will spare no effort to ensure that this Conference is a success for all.”

 

ILO, Viet Nam join force to promote international labour standards and decent work for all

Viet Nam plans to ratify 15 more ILO Conventions, including a core convention on freedom of association, during the 2021-30 period.

It was reported by the ILO on 20th May that the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Vietnamese Government had signed a Memorandum of Understanding to push the promotion of international labour standards in Viet Nam over the next 10 years.

It was noted that the document for the 2021-30 period had been signed on 20 May 2021 in Hanoi by representatives of ILO Viet Nam and the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA).

It was also noted that both sides had agreed to work together to promote the ratification and implementation of international labour standards in Viet Nam through a cooperation framework between the MOLISA and ILO Viet Nam, and ensure the participation of representatives of workers and employers in the entire process.

 

ILO to release new analysis of labour market and social trends

 On 21st May ILO News reported that the International Labour Organization (ILO) would publish a new edition of its World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2021 (WESO Trends), which looks at the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global labour market and the prospects for recovery.

It was noted that the WESO Trends and accompanying press release would be published on Thursday 27 May 2021. It was also noted that it covers the extent and consequences of the labour market disruption caused by the crisis, including the effects on inequality, working poverty and youth employment and also outlines principles for a comprehensive and human-centred recovery strategy.

 

 

Help educators now so they can help build a better future of work, says ILO

ILO News reported on 24th May that education workers needed more support if they were to provide the additional learning needed for building a more resilient and sustainable recovery from the pandemic.

It was also noted that there was an urgent need to invest in education and in training and decent work for education workers, so they could contribute to the post-COVID-19 recovery, according to delegates at an ILO technical meeting on the future of work in the education sector .

It was further reported that effective lifelong learning and quality education for all were essential for a better future of work. It was said that if teachers, trainers and support workers were to fill this need and pave the way to address the challenges that lie ahead, they would need to master new technologies and learning techniques, understand the skills’ needs of the labour market and receive support to deal with their expanded responsibilities.

 

 

New legislation in Qatar provides greater protection to workers from heat stress

Prohibited summertime working hours expanded by six weeks and annual health checks for workers introduced.

On 26th May, ILO News reported that as temperatures began to soar across the Gulf region, Qatar had adopted new rules providing further protection to workers from heat stress.

It was noted that a Ministerial Decision announced on 26 May 2021 has introduced a significant expansion of summertime working hours during which outdoor work is prohibited.

It was further noted that under the new rules which came into force immediately, workers cannot work outside between 10:00 and 15:30 from 1 June to 15 September. This, it was said has replaced legislation from 2007, that had prohibited work in outdoor workspaces from 11:30 to 15:00, between 15 June and 31 August.

It also reported that in addition, regardless of the time, all work must stop if the wet-bulb globe temperature (WBGT) rises beyond 32.1 °C in a particular workplace. The WBGT index it was said, takes into consideration ambient temperature, humidity, solar radiation and wind speed.

 

Tokyo Olympics: IOC must review COVID-19 protocols with players’ unions and experts

The ITUC reported on 27th May that they were calling for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to fix the deeply flawed COVID-19 protocols it has published for the Tokyo Olympics, through engagement with sports players’ unions and pandemic experts.

It was also noted that an article published on 25 May in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine reveals major deficits in the IOC plans, which expose athletes, workers, volunteers and potentially people in athletes’ home countries to avoidable risk of infection.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, was reported as saying: “An event that would bring together people from virtually every country in the world when the global pandemic is raging could only be envisaged on the basis of the most up-to-date scientific knowledge. This is not the case with the IOC’s ‘Playbook’ for the Tokyo Olympics.

“Best-practice occupational health and safety standards on ventilation, testing, sharing accommodation, prevention of transmission and other vital protections are not included in the IOC’s plans. Participation in the Olympics is the summit of their sporting experience for many thousands of athletes, and everyone involved in the Games deserves the maximum protection, not arrangements that cut corners and expose people to risks that can be prevented and avoided.”

 

Saudi Arabia reinforces its commitment to eradicate forced labour in all its forms

Saudi Arabia ratifies the Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention

 

On 27th May ILO News reported that the previous day, Saudi Arabia had deposited the instrument of ratification of the Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 , so becoming the fifty-second country worldwide and the first among members of the Gulf Cooperation Council to ratify this instrument. It was noted that with this ratification, Saudi Arabia was demonstrating its firm commitment to combating forced labour in all its forms, including human trafficking.

It was also noted that having been overwhelmingly adopted during the 2014 International Labour Conference, the Protocol reinforces the international legal framework for combating forced labour. It was said that it commits States to take effective measures to prevent forced labour, sanction its perpetrators, and protect its victims and ensure their access to justice and remedies.

It was further reported that according to the latest global estimates , there are still 25 million men, women and children trapped in forced labour.   The ILO  has recently highlighted that the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the risk of the most vulnerable workers, including migrant workers, to get tricked and trapped in forced labour. The risk of increasing debt bondage is particularly important.

 

 

 

Iraq ratifies Convention No. 184 and Convention No. 185

ILO News reported on 27th May that on 21 May 2021, His Excellency Ambassador Abdul Karim Hashim Mostafa, Permanent Representative of Iraq had presented the instruments of ratification for the Safety and Health in Agriculture Convention, 2001 (No. 184)  and the Seafarers' Identity Documents Convention (Revised), 2003, as amended (No. 185)  to the ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder.

It was noted that the ILO Director-General Guy Ryder had welcomed the ratifications, stating “With these ratifications, Iraq has re-affirmed its commitment to decent work and the ILO’s standards system, during this time of crisis.”  Upon receipt of the instrument of ratification of Convention No. 184, he stated “I am pleased to welcome Iraq’s formal commitment to improving occupational safety and health in the agricultural sector, in consultation with the social partners. Agriculture is one of the most hazardous economic sectors in the world. By ratifying Convention No. 184, the Government of Iraq confirms its determination to prevent accidents and occupational diseases in this sector in a continuous and sustainable manner. This is the 10th occupational safety and health Convention ratified by Iraq - I welcome this significant step towards building and strengthening a preventative safety and health culture.” Furthet o this, turning to Convention No. 185, Mr Ryder had indicated “It is with great pleasure that I welcome Iraq among the States parties to Convention No. 185. This ratification strengthens Iraq’s commitment to ensuring decent working and living conditions for seafarers by facilitating their rights to shore leave, transit and transfer. The vital importance of these elements for seafarers’ general well-being has clearly been exposed during the crisis currently faced by the maritime sector as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

 

 

 

Tokyo Olympics: IOC must review COVID-19 protocols with players’ unions and experts

On 27th the ITUC reported that they were calling for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to fix the deeply flawed COVID-19 protocols it had published for the Tokyo Olympics, through engagement with sports players’ unions and pandemic experts.

It was argued that an article published on 25 May in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine revealed major deficits in the IOC plans, which expose athletes, workers, volunteers and potentially people in athletes’ home countries to avoidable risk of infection.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, was reported as saying: “An event that would bring together people from virtually every country in the world when the global pandemic is raging could only be envisaged on the basis of the most up-to-date scientific knowledge. This is not the case with the IOC’s ‘Playbook’ for the Tokyo Olympics.

“Best-practice occupational health and safety standards on ventilation, testing, sharing accommodation, prevention of transmission and other vital protections are not included in the IOC’s plans. Participation in the Olympics is the summit of their sporting experience for many thousands of athletes, and everyone involved in the Games deserves the maximum protection, not arrangements that cut corners and expose people to risks that can be prevented and avoided.”

 

Hong Kong: Lee Cheuk Yan given further jail sentence for pro-democracy protest

On 28th May, it was reported by the ITUC that Lee Cheuk Yan, General Secretary of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, had been sentenced to 18 months in prison for ‘inciting, organising and participating in an unauthorised assembly’ on 1 October 2019.

 

It was noted that this was in addition to an 18 month sentence he received in April 2021 for another pro-democracy event in August 2019.

It was further reported that Lee Cheuk Yan will serve the two sentences concurrently. Taking into account time already served, he will be imprisoned for 20 months in total.

‘The movement will continue’

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, was reported as saying: “The international trade union movement stands with Lee Cheuk Yan and Hong Kong’s democracy movement throughout this difficult time.

“Beijing’s strong-arm regime must realise that they will not crush the working people of Hong Kong. Their wish for democracy will not end and the movement will continue with global support.”

 

Peter Sagar, A Living Tradition CIC

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