Director-general of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Guy Ryder has called for a global debate on the future of work. “The issues of jobs, equity, sustainability, human security, labour mobility, social dialogue, which need to be tackled in a future of work initiative, are almost by definition the key policy issues of our time,” said Ryder at the start of the annual ILO Conference which brings together some 4,000 government, worker and employer representatives in Geneva.
The proposed Future of work initiative would be structured around four conversations: work and society; the organisation of work and production; decent jobs for all; and the governance of work. Subsequently, a high-level commission on the future of work would prepare a report to the ILO’s centenary conference in 2019.
Ryder called on delegates to “look at the longer term drivers of change, the transformational mega-trends, and what they imply for the goals we pursue in the ILO in its second century.”
Ryder’s proposal is contained in his report to the ILC entitled, The Future of work centenary initiative and is accompanied by an annual report on the situation of workers in the occupied Arab territories.
According to the latest World Employment and Social Outlook report , global unemployment reached 201 million in 2014, over 30 million higher than before the start of the global crisis in 2008. Moreover, providing jobs to the more than 40 million additional people who enter the global labour market every year is proving to be a daunting challenge. In addition to widespread joblessness, the employment relationship itself is facing a major transformation that is bringing further challenges.
In addition to the director-general’s future of work initiative, the conference this year will discuss various other issues, including climate change, a proposed first ever international standard on the transition from the informal to the formal economy; the role of small and medium enterprises as a major job creation engine; and how to ensure labour protection (wages, working time, maternity protection and occupational safety and health) which is at the heart of the ILO’s mandate and does not currently cover many types of employees.
High-level discussions on climate change and the world of work, as well as child labour will take place on 11 and 12 June, respectively, and there will be a focus on encouraging ratification by member States of the 2014 protocol to the ILO Convention on Forced Labour (C029, 1930) to enable it to enter into force.