UN labour agency closes conference amid appeals for a sustainable ‘future of work’

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13 June 2015 – The transformation of the global workforce must happen “here and now,” the head of the United Nations labour agency said today as he urged Member States to move ahead and implement changes critical for a sustainable, inclusive and green future of work.

Closing a two-week conference held at the Geneva-based headquarters of the International Labour Organization (ILO), agency Director-General Guy Ryder reminded delegates that they would now need to focus their efforts on four major areas – work and society, decent jobs, the organization of work, and production and the governance of work – in order to bring to fruition the so-called Future of Work Initiative.

“This Initiative will not be implemented in a vacuum. Critically important international processes will be underway – not least the post-2015 development agenda and follow-up to the Paris Climate Change Conference,” Mr. Ryder declared.

“And the changes transforming the world of work will not be put on hold while we work out what to do about them. And so our efforts must take due regard of all of these factors and weave them into the Initiative itself.”

According to the ILO, this year’s conference saw nearly 4,500 delegates from 169 ILO Member States engage in “intensive debate” as they appointed a high-level commission on the future of work to prepare a report for the agency’s centenary conference to be held in 2019. This exercise is expected to define how the ILO will realize its mandate on social justice as it enters its next century.

At the same time, delegates narrowed in on four critical labour issues, namely the adoption of an historic new labour standard aiming to regularize informal workers and lift them into the formal economy; the reaffirmation of their commitment to ensuring the application in law and practice of freedom of association for all workers and employers in the rural economy; the promotion of small and medium-sized enterprises and entrepreneurship development; and the advancement of labour protection.

“Turning to the question of the next concrete steps, I think we must be mindful of those who said that we cannot wait until 2019 to act because change is here and now,” Mr. Ryder continued.

“It is precisely for that reason that implementation of our Initiative must start as soon as this conference ends.”

Sources: United Nations

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