World leaders commit to empowering workers

Key moments from the ILO’s labour conference

World leaders commit to empowering workers
“The effectiveness and resilience of the recovery from COVID-19 will depend heavily on how broadly-based and socially inclusive it is.”

The International Labour Organization (ILO), a UN agency based in Geneva, Switzerland, recently held its annual International Labour Conference (ILC). The 109th ILC was held from June 7 to June 18 gathering delegates from 181 countries around the world to work to advance workers’ rights – this was the first ever virtual edition.

Alongside the numerous panels and events, the ILO’s World of Work Summit drew global leaders, who spoke at length about the importance of empowering workers.

Said U.S. President Joe Biden: “We have to prove that democracy can deliver. We do that by empowering workers, raising wages, standing up for union rights, holding bad actors everywhere accountable when they subject their citizens to forced labour or child labour, even as they seek positions of global leadership.”

Another one of the biggest takeaways of the ILO conference? Pope Francis champions the right of workers to unionize.

In a video message on June 17 addressing the conference’s participants, the Pope said that the “right to organize in unions” was one of the fundamental protections for workers, and that workers should be met with “decent and dignified working conditions.”

He spoke on the extra efforts needed to protection female and migrant workers, highlighting that excluding migrant workers from national health plans makes them vulnerable and “complicates early detection, testing, diagnosis, contact tracing and seeking medical care for COVID-19 for refugees and migrants, and thus increases the risk of outbreaks in these populations.”

Key topics during the conference included COVID-19 (of course), sustainability and youth employment.

One of the big moments of the conference was the adoption of a Global Call to Action for a Human-Centered Recovery that prioritizes the creation of decent jobs for all and addresses the inequalities caused by the crisis.

“The effectiveness and resilience of the recovery from COVID-19 will depend heavily on how broadly-based and socially inclusive it is.

Unless we specifically address the inequalities that have deepened during this crisis there is a very real risk that the economic and social consequences will cause long-term scarring, particularly for disproportionately-affected groups such as young people and women, and the small and microenterprises that provide most of the world’s employment,” said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder.