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  • Writer's pictureMelo Acuna

Collective action to protect workers, employers needed

COVID-19 and social protection still priorities at the ILO virtual conference

MANILA – With policy makers, labor leaders and employers at the first virtual International Labor Conference, the impact of COVID-19 and how it shaped the world of work remained on top of the agenda. Decisions on social protection and the application of international labour standards were passed on the final day as well as an emergency resolution on Myanmar.

In a statement from Geneva and released in Manila at dawn today, it was learned discussions on the impact of COVID-19 on working conditions and how to pursue a human-centered, inclusive recovery remained priorities.

At the plenary discussions, the delegates addressed the Director-General’s report to the Conferenced on the “Work in the time of COVID” which underscored the need for a human-centered approach of the ILO’s 2019 Centenary Declaration, said to be keys to a sustainable and inclusive global pandemic response. The delegates unanimously adopted a Global Call to Action which highlighted the steps to create a human-centered recovery from the pandemic to avoid a long-term scarring of economies and societies.

The Global Call to Action commits countries to ensuring that their economic and social recovery from the crisis is “fully inclusive, sustainable and resilient.”

A “World of Work Summit” was held from June 17-18 which highlighted remarks from world leaders and representatives of workers’ and employers’ organizations and the United Nations. Among the speakers were Pope Francis, President Moon Jae-in of the Republic of Korea, Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa, US President Joe Biden and the president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Félix Tshisekedi.

The Summit focused on the need for a collective and global response to the COVID-19 crisis and the action required to build a better future of work.

The Conference adopted the report of its Committee on the Application of Standards which adopted conclusions on the application of specific ILO Conventions in 19 countries. It included Belarus, El Salvador and Zimbabwe in special paragraphs identifying particularly serious problems in the application of standards. It agreed on the importance of promoting employment and decent work in rapidly changing world of work, underscoring the need for governments, in consultation with employers’ and workers organizations and stakeholders to develop, implement, monitor and review policies and programs founded in International Labour Standards.

A thorough discussion on Social Protection which highlighted the impact of COVID-19 and the rapid changes in the world of work. Delegates adopted conclusions that highlighted a framework for urgent action towards universal, adequate, comprehensive and sustainable social protection systems related to the developments in the world of work. The actions included measures to further strengthen social protection policies, close financing gaps, strengthen governance and implement social protection programs.

They also passed a resolution on Myanmar which called for the restoration of democracy, the reestablishment of civilian rule, end to arbitrary detentions and violations of human rights as well as the restoration of basic fundamental principles and rights at work.They called on the ILO Governing Body to monitor the situation in Myanmar and follow-up on the implementation of the resolution. (Melo M. Acuña)

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