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Summary of the 97TH INTERNATIONAL LABOUR CONFERENCE, celebrated in Geneva, 28 May to 13 June 2008

26 June 2008



Geneva, 28 May to 13 June 2008

Some 4,000 delegates and advisers, including labour ministers and leaders of workers ‘and employers’ organizations from 182 ILO member States, attended the annual Conference.                                                                                


The 97th Session of the International Labour Conference elected as its President Mr. Edwin Salamín Jaén, Minister of Labour and Labour Development of Panama and as Vice-Presidents Mr. Tayeb Louh Algeria’s Minister of Labour, Employment and Social Security (Governments), Mr. Ashraf W. Tabani, President of the Employer’s Federation of Pakistan (Employers) and Ms Rabiatou Sérah Diallo, Secretary General of the National Confederation of Workers (CNTG) of Guinea. (Workers).


The Conference hosted three prominent guest speakers, including H.E. Danilo Türk, President of the Republic of Slovenia, H.E. Martin Torrijos Espino, President of the Republic of Panama, and the Right Honourable Mr Pakalitha Mosisili, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Lesotho.


The ILO Director-General Juan Somavia in his address on 9 June presented a new report on “Decent Work – Some Strategic Challenges Ahead” that examines the role of the ILO’s Decent Work Agenda in promoting balance and equity in a world at an economic, financial, social and environmental crossroads.


Citing growing global imbalances in wages, jobs, productivity and poverty reduction, Juan Somavia, Director-General of the International Labour Organization, said today counter measures were urgently needed to head off what he called a “globalization without social justice” and he added “the ILO has a unique opportunity to play a central role in an emerging system of global governance combining financial stability, investment for development with fair trade and decent work”.

During the discussions in plenary tripartite delegates also referred to the ILO recent Report on the situation of workers of the occupied Arab territories.


The Conference Plenary which discussed on 6 June, the ILO’s new Global Report “Freedom of Association in practice: Lessons learned”, says that despite a global trend towards wider recognition of civil rights, millions of workers and employers around the world still lack fundamental rights. The report is issued under the follow-up of the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work adopted in 1998.


This year, the Conference Committee on Application of Standards marked the 60th anniversary of the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize Convention, 1948 (No.87), the 50th anniversary of the Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention, 1958 (No.111) and the 10th anniversary of the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, 1998.

The Committee again held a special sitting on the application by Myanmar of the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29), follow up measures taken in the context of Article 33 of the ILO Constitution.

Besides this special session, the Committee examined 23 individual cases that covered 10 ILO’s Conventions.

· Convention 29 on Forced Labour (India, Myanmar, Paraguay, Sudan)

· Convention 81 on Labour inspection (Sweden, Uganda)

· Convention 87 on freedom of association and protection of trade unions rights (Bangladesh, Belarus, Bulgaria, Colombia, Egypt, Guatemala, Guinea Equatorial, Japan, Zimbabwe)

· Convention 98 on Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining (Georgia, Iraq)

· Convention 105 on Abolition of Forced Labour (Indonesia)

· Convention 111 on Discrimination (Employment and occupation)(Czech. Rep, Dominican Rep, Iran)

· Convention 138 on Minimum Age (Zambia)

· Convention 162 on Asbestos (Croatia)

· Convention 180 on Seafarers’ Hours of work and the Manning of Ships (United Kingdom)

· Convention 182 Worst Forms of Child Labour (Mexico)


An issue without precedents was the Colombian case: Although it was not formally on the list, the government “voluntary” presented information about steps they have made and the case was discussed. In the conclusions, the Committee took note of the efforts made by the government but expressed its concern over an increase in violent acts against trade unionists in the first half of 2008 and urged the government to take further steps to reinforce the available protective measures, to render more efficient and expedient the investigations of murders of trade unionists and to ensure that the trade union movement might finally develop and flourish in a climate that was free from violence.


The Committee discussed a general survey on the social dimension of public procurement and review ways to promote social sustainability of public procurement, and how ILO Convention No. 94 on Labour Clauses can be used to this end.



The Committee highlighted the importance of agriculture for economic growth and poverty reduction. Many issues like rural employment tendencies, decent work deficit, extension of social protection, applications of international conventions, governance, empowerment and institutions were in the center of discussions. A concrete ILO Action Plan was agreed based on the 4 strategic objectives of decent work.


The Committee also adopted unanimously a draft resolution presented by workers Vice President concerning the ILO and the tripartite constituents’ role in tackling the global food crisis and proposed that the ILO convene a technical workshop to discuss the social and employment impact of food prices on decent work.


The annual meeting hosted a high-level panel discussion on 11 June on “Tackling the Food Crisis through investment, production and decent work”.




The Committee on Skills adopted a series of conclusions to guide the Governments and their social interlocutors in strengthening professional training and long life learning, as central pillars for the employability of the workers and the sustainability of the companies in the framework of Decent Work Agenda. Improving the quality and the facility of access to education, training and skills for men and women can generate a virtuous circle in which the development of skills feeds the innovation, the investment, the technological change, the development of companies, the economic diversification and the competitiveness, which is necessary to accelerate the creation of more employment of better quality.





The main task of this Committee was to achieve a universal commitment to promote decent work and its 4 strategic objectives. That’s why, strengthening the ILO’s capacity should contribute to achieve the full implementation of decent work and to respond to member States’ needs.


This Committee adopted a very important and historical text, the ILO Declaration on social justice for a fair globalization, its annex and the Resolution on strengthening the ILO’s capacity to assist its Members’ efforts to reach its objectives in the context of globalization. (Annex 3)




On 2 June, the International Labour Conference elected new members of the Governing Body. For the full list of members, please visit: http://www.ilo.org/global/What_we_do/Officialmeetings/ilc/ILCSessions/97thSession/pr/lang–en/docName–WCMS_093826/index.htm


Workers Group

Titular Members (14)

Deputy Members (19)

Mr. N. Adyanthaya (India) Mr. H. Abdulla (Bahrain)
Mrs. S. Burrow (Australia) Mr. K. Ahmed (Pakistan)
Mrs. B. Byers (Canada) Mr. M. Al-Ma’ayta (Jordan)
Mrs. R. Diallo (Guinea) Mrs. H. Anderson Navarez (México)
Mr. J.R. Gómez Esguerra (Colombia) Mr. F. Atwoli (Kenya)*
Mr. S. Nakajima (Japan) Mr. L. Basnet (Nepal)
Mr. A. Omar (Nigeria)* Mr. A. Benedetti (Brazil)*
Mr. A. Sidi Said (Alger) Mrs. C. Del Rio (Italia)
Mr. E. Sidorov (Russian Federation) Mr. U. Edström (Sweden)*
Mr. M. Sommer (Germany)* Mrs. M.F.C. Francisco (Angola)*
Mr. S. Steyne (Reino Unido) Mr. B. Hossu (Rumania)
Mrs. T.L. Sundes (Norway)* Mr. G. Jiang (China)*
Mr. L. Trotman (Barbados) Mr. G.A. Martínez (Argentina)
Mr. J. Zellhoefer (United States) Mrs. L. Matibenga (Zimbabwe)*
| Mr. A. Palanga (Togo)
| Mr. E. Patel (South Africa)
| Mr. Y. Veyrier (France)*
| Mrs. A. Wolenska (Poland)*
| Mrs. H. Yacob (Singapore)


(* New members)


Also a 3rd list of 19 substitute members was elected.

Mr. Abdel-Hafiz Abdel-Halim (Egypt), Mr. Alviz Fernández, Apecides (Colombia), Mr. Asamoah, Kofi (Ghana), Mr. Canak, Branislav (Serbia), Mr. De Valle Pérez, José (México), Mr. Djibrine, Assali (Chad), Mr. Gentil, Pierre Alain (Switzerland), Mr. Gyorgy, Karoly (Hungary), Mrs. Hanzevacki, Marija (Croatia), Mr. Islam Khan, Nazrul (Bangladesh), Mr. Kang, Choong Ho (Korea Rep.), Mrs. Kelly, Helen (New Zeeland), Mrs. Montero d’Oleo, Daisy (Dominican Rep), Mrs. Mukaruzima, Dativa (Rwanda), Mr. Nkojjo, David (Uganda), Mr. Parra, Pedro (Paraguay), Mr. Sandrasekera, Harindranath (Sri Lanka), Mr. Sithole, Jan (Swaziland), Mr. Syed Mohamud, Syed Shahir (Malaysia)


In the new composition of the WG Governing Body there are 10 women and 10 new members that represent 30% out of the total. Among titular members Norway replaced Sweden and also there were changes among members from Germany and Niger. In the case of Deputy Members, new delegates from Poland, Sweden, Kenya, Zimbabwe and China replaced members from Serbia and Montenegro, Netherlands, Uganda, Namibia and Indonesia. Also there were changes of persons in the cases of France, Angola and Brazil.


Geographical distribution of workers members in the ILO Governing Body













Asia Pacific













We consider a positive step the inclusion of Chinese Trade Unions ACFTU in the ILO Governing Body as Deputy Member, but taking into account the industrial, inhabitants and affiliates members weight they really deserved a Titular seat.


We deplore that trade union plurality and proportional representation of trade unions tendencies was not guaranteed in this new composition, despite all the efforts and actions undertaken by WFTU in this respect.


6 March 2008

WFTU Presidential Council delegation met with Mr. Juan Somavia, ILO Director General and Mr. Dan Cunniah, ACTRAV Director


9 April 2008

Letter of George Mavrikos, WFTU General Secretary to ILO Director General


19 May 2008

Meeting of George Mavrikos, WFTU General Secretary and Mr. Juan Somavia, ILO Director General and Mr. Dan Cunniah, ACTRAV Director. A proposal of proportional representation of trade unions tendencies was presented.


28 May 2008

Official presentation of a draft Resolution on fair and proportional representation of Workers Members in the Governing Body to the 97 ILC President (Annex 4)


29 May 2008

Interventions in the Workers Group Meeting about pluralism and proportional representation of trade unions tendencies (Annex 5)


31 May 2008

Informal exchange of WFTU affiliated organizations with Sr. Leroy Trotman, President of Workers Group to know any reactions and comments about our concrete proposal.


Once again, our claims were not met and WFTU affiliated organizations keep being excluded from this important ILO executive structure. We shall continue claiming our rights.




On 13 June the 302nd Session of the Governing Body was held. It elected H.E. Mr. Zdzislaw Rapacki, Ambassador of Poland to the Conference on Disarmament and Permanent Representative of Poland to the United Nations Office in Geneva as Chairperson for its 2008-09 Session.


Sir Leroy Trotman, General Secretary, Barbados Workers’ Union and spokesperson of the Workers’ Group in the Governing Body, was re-elected Workers’ Vice-chairperson. Daniel Funes de Rioja, President of the Social Policy Department of the Argentine Industrial Union and Chairman of the Employers’ Group of the Organization of American States from 1995 to 1998, was re-elected as Employer Vice-chairperson.



Following a now established tradition in the framework of the International Labor Conference, a Solidarity Meeting with Palestine and the occupied Arab territories took place with the presence of hundreds of delegates.

This time it was held on 4. June (Room XVII, Palais ONU) and George Mavrikos, WFTU General Secretary, delivered a solidarity and greeting message. (Annex 6)


The Plenary of the Conference celebrated on 12 June the World Day against Child Labour focussed on: Education - the right response to child labour”.

WFTU distributed at the Meeting of the Workers Group a Statement and poster related to this date. (Annex 7)

poster child



27 May 09:30 to 12:30 Initial Preparatory Meeting (room V, ILO)

4 June 10:30 to 13:00 Informal Presidential Council Meeting (room III, P. UNO)

6 June 13:30 to 14:30 WFTU Activity in Solidarity with Colombians trade unionists in the framework of 60th Anniversary of the Human Rights Declaration and the 60th Anniversary of Convention 87 on Freedom of Association (room XII, Palais UNO)

                                       Colombia                            Colombia

The meeting was chaired by George Mavrikos, WFTU General Secretary, Sir LeRoy Trotman, President of Workers Group, Mr. Dan Cunniah, ACTRAV Director, Alfonso Ahumada Barbosa, CUT Colombia and Ramon Cardona, Secretary WFTU America Region. More than 100 worker delegates attended this activity and trade unions organizations from Portugal, China, South Africa, Palestine and Venezuela took the floor to deliver their solidarity messages.

Speech of George Mavrikos in Solidarity with Colombia (Annex 8 )

9 June 10:30 to 13:00 Meeting of the WFTU Friends Council (room IV, ILO)

10 June 11:30 to 13:00 Meeting of the WFTU European Regional Office (room IV, ILO)

In summary we have a positive evaluation on meetings, activities and actions made by WFTU in the framework of the 97 International Labour Conference, not only by the level of attendance, but also by all the interventions, their content and the debate generated. There is a general recognition of the work and efforts made by WFTU since its XV Congress and particular debate on activities made during 2008. Also several issues of the 97 ILC were analysed and evaluated in order to coordinate actions and positions, we received suggestions and proposals and in a collective way we will continue improving our work in the ILO.


A call was made to increase the presence and performance of our affiliated organizations and friends in this tribune. First of all, it becomes necessary that at national level efforts be made to be appointed and included in national workers delegations that attend the ILC, also a formula of proportional representation and rotation should be applied. Secondly, it is very important to improve communication and work coordination among WFTU Central Office, WFTU Geneva Office and those affiliated organizations that will attend the ILC. We should know in advance who is coming, period of stay, subjects in which they are interested to participate, availability to integrate committees and to distribute responsibilities. Thirdly, the importance to study the reports and items on the ILC agenda was highlighted in order to be ready and prepared and to follow those issues during the Conference, so that our affiliated organizations can be in better conditions to playing a more active role in different commissions.


Prof. Ibrahim Ghandour, President (SWTUF) Sudan, President (OATUU) and Member WFTU Presidential Council was elected to the Workers Group Bureau proposed by OATUU meeting.

Shaban Azzouz, Secretary General of (GFTU) Syria and WFTU President was Member of the Workers Bureau in the Committee on Strengthening the ILO’s capacity to assist its Members’ efforts to reach its objectives in the context of globalization where Ramon Cardona, WFTU Secretary for America was coordinator.

Santiago Yagual, Secretary General (CTE) Ecuador and Souribandhu Kar, Secretary General State Committee Orissa (AITUC) India integrated the Standing Orders Committee and this last one also participated in the Committee on Skills.

Adib Miro and Valentin Pacho, Members of the WFTU Secretariat, followed the work of the Standards Committee.
Bernard Gleize, Member of the Executive Committee (FNAF CGT) France on behalf of the Trade Unions International of Workers in Agriculture, Food, Commerce, Textiles and Allied Industries (UISTAACT) previously prepared a note on the subject, followed the work of this committee and made an intervention in the plenary session.

To all and each one of them, our gratefulness for their efforts, their contributions and the work made within the framework of this Conference.


In the framework of the 97 ILC, WFTU President and General Secretary had meetings and exchanges with several trade union organizations that attended the Conference.


Elections ILO Director General

In November 2008 elections in ILO will take place to choose the Director General for the period 2008-12.

Today’s Director General, Mr. Juan Somavia has been proposed for a new mandate and numerous governments of Africa, Latin America and the Workers Group have expressed support for this candidacy.

The WFTU also made public its support in the speech delivered by George Mavrikos, WFTU General Secretary in the Plenary Session of the 97 ILC held 10 of June 2008.

ILO 90th Anniversary in 2009

The ILO Director General, Mr. Juan Somavia has proposed to develop a campaign from 21-28 April 2009 for the ILO’s 90th Anniversary.

This anniversary provides an opportunity to reinforce the ILO’s position as the leading source of knowledge and expertise on the world of work. It provides a unique platform for the Office and constituents to reach out to all those concerned with the world of work, consolidating and showcasing the achievements of the past and debating responses to the challenges of the future. And today, to work together to make the global goal of decent work a progressive national reality.

We encouraged our affiliated organizations to be part of this campaign and commemoration.



The 298th session of the Governing Body decided to place the following items on the agenda of the 98th International Labour Conference (2009)

· Reports of the Chairperson of the Governing Body and of the Director-General· Global Report on elimination of forced and compulsory labour under the Follow-up to the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work ;· Programme and Budget proposals for 2010-20110 and other questions· Information and reports on the application of Conventions and Recommendations. (i) Employment and social protection in the new demographic context (general discussion based on an integrated approach);(ii) Gender equality at the heart of decent work (general discussion)(iii) Adoption of an autonomous Recommendation on HIV/AIDS in the world of work (standard setting, double discussion).

ii) The International Labour Organization is launching a one-year global campaign to highlight the central role of gender equality in its Decent Work Agenda and in the work of its constituents – governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations.

The campaign is built around 12 different Decent Work themes. These themes will be looked at through a gender lens to illustrate how various issues in the world of work may affect women and men in different ways, particularly in their accessing rights, employment, social protection and social dialogue.


The awareness-raising campaign will be effective for one year and will lead to a general discussion on gender equality at the heart of decent work at the International Labour Conference in June 2009. Delegates from governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations of the ILO member States will then have the opportunity to study the issues and draft a roadmap to promote gender equality for the decade to come.


The campaign will produce an information brief for each theme, accompanied by a poster and postcard. A specific campaign website has been developed and during the one-year campaign new materials on different themes will be uploaded regularly. http://www.ilo.org/gender/Events/Campaign2008-2009/lang–en/index.htm


iii) The first discussion at the 2009 Conference will be an occasion to bring together ILO constituents to consider in detail the valuable experience gained over the past decade. The discussions will be based on Member States’ responses to a questionnaire included in the report, which asks for government, employers’ and workers’ organizations’ views on the potential scope and content of the proposed standard. Given the broad nature of the subject, labour ministries are advised to consult with other national ministries and institutions dealing with HIV/AIDS, including organizations of persons living with HIV (PLHIV) and others engaged in national programmes.

The report has been sent to ILO Member States for their consideration and response by 31 August 2008. A second report will then be produced based on their responses, with conclusions for discussion at the 2009 Conference, and sent out in February 2009.

Copies of this Report available in the following link:


Osiris Oviedo de la Torre

WFTU Permanent Representative in Geneva

10 Rue du Fendt, 1201 Geneva

Tel/Fax: 00 41 22 733 94 35

Email: fsmgin@bluewin.ch


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