Ecuador approves ILO Convention 190 ratification
22 January, 2021: On 17 January, the National Assembly of Ecuador unanimously approved the ratification of International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 190 on the Violence and Harassment in the World of Work. Ecuador joins Fiji, Argentina, Uruguay and Namibia in ratifying the Convention. This also makes Ecuador the third country in Latin America and the Caribbean to have approved the ratification.
"The ratification of ILO Convention 190 reinforces the fight of Ecuadorian women workers for equality and respect both at the social and labour levels. This victory belongs to all of us. It will represent a positive change in the lives of many, women," said Faviola Rueda, Secretary for Women of the Equatorian Federation of Mechanic Equipment Workers (FEDESOMEC), a BWI affiliate in the country.
FEDESOMEC actively campaigned for the ratification of ILO Convention 190 and was a leading voice in the region on BWI's "16 Days of Trade Union Activism on Violence Against Women" campaign last year.
With the National Assembly's approval, Ecuador will now begin the official ratification process before the ILO. All relevant laws will also be adjusted to align them with the Convention and ensure that efficient reporting mechanisms and social actions inside and outside the workplaces take place.
The ITUC is calling on governments to commit to a world of work free from violence and harassment
On the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, 25 November, trade unions around the world are urging governments to ratify and implement the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 190 and Recommendation 206, to end the scourge of gender-based violence and harassment in the world of work.
24-11-2020: The COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated the risks of violence and harassment, both at work and at home, and has highlighted the importance of strong preventive and protective measures to ensure safe, healthy, dignified and respectful working environments. There have been alarming reports of health and care workers and other frontline workers, such as food retail workers, transport workers and cleaners, being targets of violence and harassment by employers, co-workers or anxious customers, clients, and patients.
Rates of domestic violence have spiked since the onset of this crisis - a phenomenon described by the United Nations as a shadow pandemic as many workers, in particular women, required to work from home find themselves trapped with their abusers. At the same time, the rise in teleworking leaves workers more exposed to technology-enabled harassment such as cyberbullying.
Women working in the informal economy, whether as street vendors, market traders, waste pickers, home-based workers, or domestic workers, have seen their livelihoods devastated as they face increased violence and harassment from employers, members of the public or local authorities. In some cases, their activities have been criminalised.
Trade unions have played a crucial role in addressing gender-based violence during the pandemic by:
Unions have also joined calls for immediate food and safety relief and social protection coverage for informal economy and migrant workers, including those stranded away from home, and an end to violence, harassment and criminalisation. On 25 November, we show our solidarity with women working in the informal economy, who are the backbone of so many national economies.
The ILO Violence and Harassment Convention 190 and Recommendation 206 provide a clear framework for governments, employers and workers and their representatives on how to effectively prevent, address and remedy violence and harassment in the world of work. These instruments also provide important guidance on mitigating the impacts of domestic violence in the world of work.
While the pandemic has necessarily focused the attention of governments on dealing with the public health, economic and social impacts, the pandemic is a reason to push forward with ratification, rather than delay it further. Ratification and effective implementation of these instruments should be an integral part of a sustainable recovery and building resilience in the face of this and future crises. Uruguay and Fiji have led by example, becoming the first two countries to ratify the Convention. Argentina is set to become the third. Now more governments must follow suit!
On 25 November, we urge governments globally to fulfill the commitments made at the Centenary International Labour Conference in June 2019 to a world of work free from violence and harassment.
ILO Convention 190 on Violence and Harassment in the World of Work adopted in Argentina
NOV 11, 2020: With 241 votes in favour, one against and two abstentions, the Argentine Chamber of Deputies approved this Wednesday, November 11, International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 190 on Violence and Harassment in the World of Work.
Convention 190 and its respective Recommendation 206 were adopted as part of the celebration of the ILO centenary in June 2019, during the 108th International Labour Conference. A bill on Convention 190 had been sent to the Argentine Congress by President Alberto Fernández on 28 May 2020. In June, the matter was approved by the Senate.
This is a great triumph for the Argentine and the global trade union movement, in particular for Public Services International (PSI), which has been working on this issue for eight years. PSI's national Women's Committee in Argentina, as well as the affiliated organizations in that country, are among those responsible for this approval.
When the Argentine government presents this law at ILO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, it will be formally recognized as the third country to ratify Convention 190, after Uruguay on 12 June 2019 and Fiji on 25 June 2020. Fiji's ratification confirms the entry into force of C190 as of June 25, 2021. "It is symbolic that Convention 190 was approved on the day we Argentinian women first voted [in national elections], on 11 November 1951," said Isabel BerÓn, coordinator of PSI's national Women's Committee in Argentina.
PSI's Global Gender Officer, Veronica Montufar congratulated Argentina on this important step. "With the ratification of ILO Convention 190, the Argentinian Chamber of Deputies has confirmed to the world that it is a relevant State power and will be remembered in history for committing to make effective the right to work free of violence and harassment. Convention 190 is once again being confirmed as an extremely important and relevant instrument of international labour law as it applies to recent changes including telework, working from home, the digitalization of work and the indivisibility of domestic space with the workplace; issues that were impossible to foresee at the time of its adoption at the ILO's 2019 Centennial Conference. All of these recent changes in working conditions increase levels of violence and harassment, particularly gender-based violence. We celebrate this victory of the Argentinean trade union movement and especially of the unified, strategic, and intelligent struggle of feminist women trade unionists. We commemorate their incredible effort and their victory. On to implementation!"
ILO Child Labour Convention achieves universal ratification
All 187 member States of the International Labour Organization (ILO) have ratified the ILO Convention on the Worst Forms of Child Labour, 1999 (No. 182).
04 August 2020: GENEVA (ILO News) - For the first time in the ILO's history, an International Labour Convention has been ratified by all member States.
Convention No. 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour achieved universal ratification, following ratification by the Kingdom of Tonga. Ambassador for the Kingdom of Tonga, Titilupe Fanetupouvava'u Tuivakano, formally deposited the ratification instruments with ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder on 4 August, 2020.
The Convention is the most rapidly ratified Convention in the history of the Organization, since its adoption 21 years ago by the International Labour Conference.
"Universal ratification of Convention 182 is an historic first that means that all children now have legal protection against the worst forms of child labour," said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder. "It reflects a global commitment that the worst forms of child labour, such as slavery, sexual exploitation, the use of children in armed conflict or other illicit or hazardous work that compromises children's health, morals or psychological wellbeing, have no place in our society."
Secretary-General of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), Sharan Burrow, welcomed the ratification.
"Universal ratification of Convention 182 is a potent and timely reminder of the importance of ILO standards and the need for multilateral solutions to global problems. Child labour is a grievous violation of fundamental rights, and it is incumbent on the ILO's constituents and the international community to ensure that this Convention is fully implemented, including through due diligence in global supply chains," she said.
"The universal ratification of ILO Convention No. 182 on the worst forms of child labour is an historic moment," said Roberto Suárez Santos, Secretary-General of the International Organization of Employers (IOE). "Throughout the years, the IOE and its member organizations have supported the implementation of this Convention. Today, the business community is both aware of and acting on the need to do business with respect for children's rights. This is even more urgent in the times of the COVID-19 pandemic. We cannot allow the fight against the worst form of child labour to backslide. Together we can work towards the end of child labour in all its forms."
This universal ratification is a further step towards making more concrete the aspirations of Kailash Satyarthi, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, when he said: "I dream of a world full of safe children and safe childhoods; ...I dream of a world where every child enjoys the freedom to be a child."
The ILO estimates that there are 152 million children in child labour, 73 million of whom are in hazardous work. Seventy per cent of all child labour takes place in agriculture and is mostly related to poverty and parents' difficulties finding decent work. Convention No. 182 calls for the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including slavery, forced labour and trafficking. It prohibits the use of children in armed conflict, prostitution, pornography and illicit activities such as drug trafficking, and in hazardous work.
It is one of the ILO's eight Fundamental Conventions. These cover the abolition of child labour, the elimination of forced labour, the abolition of work-related discrimination and the rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining. These principles are also covered by the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work (1998).
Since the ILO's founding in 1919, child labour has been a core concern. The Organization's first Director, Albert Thomas, described child labour as, "the exploitation of childhood which constitutes the evil... most unbearable to the human heart. Serious work in social legislation begins always with the protection of children."
It is the focus of one of the ILO's largest development cooperation programmes - the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour and Forced Labour (IPEC+), which has supported over 100 countries in all continents. The incidence of child labour and its worst forms dropped by almost 40 per cent between 2000 and 2016, as ratification rates of Convention No. 182 and Convention No. 138 (on minimum age to work) increased, and countries adopted effective laws and policies.
However, progress has slowed in recent years, particularly amongst the youngest age group (5-11 years) and in some geographical areas. With the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a real risk that years of progress will be reversed, leading to a potential increase in child labour for the first time in 20 years, unless appropriate action is taken.
"Ending child labour by 2025 in all its forms" is included under Target 8.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals, adopted by all UN Member States in 2015. The global partnership, Alliance 8.7, for which the ILO provides the Secretariat, brings together over 250 partners and 21 Pathfinder Countries to coordinate, innovate and accelerate progress to end child labour, forced labour, human trafficking and modern slavery. The universal ratification of Convention No. 182 demonstrates the will of all ILO member States to ensure that every child, everywhere, is free from child labour and its worst forms.
This landmark achievement comes just months before the start of the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour in 2021 , to be led by the ILO in collaboration with partners. Its aim is to raise awareness of the issue and to help accelerate the pace of progress.
Safety crisis in Indian mines call for ratification of ILO C-176
5 June, 2020: 268 workers were killed and 748 workers suffered serious injuries in India's mines between 2016 to 2019. A series of accidents in May suggest that 11 coal miners were killed and many more injured.
Four contract workers were killed and five seriously injured on 2 June at the Godavarikhani open cast mine of Singareni Collieries Company Limited (SCCL) in Telangana. The accidents occurred as workers were engaged in blasting operations. According to union sources, six workers have been killed at SCCL during the Covid-19 lockdown.
A vehicle operator was killed at Rajapur open cast mine of Bharat Coking Coal Limited on 29 May. On 27 May, there was an accident at Dudhichua project of Northern Coalfields Limited as a machine fell on a dumper. According to the union, a similar accident occurred a few days before, violating safety norms.
One worker was killed and two others injured on 25 May at the Parascole mine of Kajora Area in Eastern Coalfields Limited due to a roof fall. On 22 May, a contract worker died while four others escaped unhurt in an accident while cleaning a clogged chimney at a coal mine owned by Steel Authority of India Limited in Chasnala. An internal enquiry has been launched and three managers have been suspended pending the enquiry.
One worker was smashed by a dumper on 19 May in the Nandgaon project of Western Coalfields Limited. A worker at the Ananata open cast project of Mahanadi Coalfields Limited was killed on 3 May while filling diesel into heavy earth moving machinery.
Nathulal Pandey, president of Hind Khadan Mazdoor Federation and S Q Zama, secretary general of Indian National Mineworkers Federation, say: "A shortage of manpower, high production targets, unplanned extraction of coal, outsourcing coal production to third parties, engagement of a large number of untrained contract workers in critical areas, not fully using safety budgets for the past three years, a shortage of safety equipment for all workers and negligence of safety measures continue to cause avoidable accidents and a loss of workers' lives in the mines of CIL and in SCCL. "The government's attempts to allow commercial mining and privatisation of CIL may actually worsen the safety situation."
Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL Global Union assistant general secretary, says: "These fatal accidents underline the safety crisis in Indian mines and the government can no longer ignore it. Before losing more lives, we reiterate that it is urgent that India take steps to ratify ILO Convention C176 on safety and health in mines. "National laws should be in line with C176, and unions should be involved in decision making processes to create a robust safety culture in Indian mines."
Online campaign on ILO Conventions 190 and 183 in Cambodia
20 May, 2020: IndustriALL South East Asia office and Cambodian affiliates have joined forces in an online campaign, creating awareness on ILO Convention 190 on violence and harassment and Convention 183 on maternity protection.
Since ILO C190 was adopted in June last year, IndustriALL's office in South East Asia has prepared leaflets and posters in various languages for affiliates in the region.
IndustriALL regional secretary Annie Adviento says: "The pandemic has significantly restricted the movement of trade unionists and our ability to create awareness on the convention has also been restrained. So we have to find creative ways to continue the campaign on ratification of C190 and C183. "People reduce outdoor activities and communication is concentrated on online platforms. So sharing the message on social media is very effective."
Even though the Cambodian government has expressed its commitment to women's rights by ratifying United Nations Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination of All Women (CEDAW), the current maternity protection falls short of international standards. Currently, women workers are entitled to 90 days maternity leave with half wages.
Annie Adviento says that ratifying C183 to realize 14 weeks maternity leave is crucial: "Women workers must receive full wages during maternity leave. C183 clearly states that the maternity benefit shall ensure women and their children to remain healthy and enjoy adequate standard of living; the current 50 per cent of the national minimum wage, US$190 per month, is not enough for mothers and babies."
IndustriALL urges Madagascar to ratify C176
24 March, 2020: IndustriALL Global Union and its affiliates in Madagascar are intensifying demands for the ratification of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 176 on safety and health in mines.
Last year, the affiliates wrote to the Minister of Labour, Employment, Public Services, and Social Legislation urging the government to ratify C176. None of the ILO conventions signed by Madagascar protects mine workers safety and health. The concerns regarding the regulation of the state of health and safety in the mining industry came under the spotlight at a well-attended panel discussion organized by IndustriALL in Antananarivo on 11 March.
Mining in Madagascar, which has vast deposits of ilmenite, graphite, limestone, gypsum, dolomite, silica, mica, titanium, quartz, gold, platinum group, silver, iron, copper, zinc, nickel, cobalt, chromite, is a huge source of foreign direct investment. Considering the magnitude of the mining sector, mining's contribution to the country's GDP and the growth of the extractives relative to the primary, secondary or tertiary sector, Madagascar is potentially a resource-rich country.
Glen Mpufane, IndustriALL director of mining, diamonds, gems, ornaments and jewellery production, said: "Occupational health and health and safety in mining in Madagascar is hopelessly unregulated which is inconsistent with mining's role in the economy."
Brian Kohler, IndustriALL director of health, safety and sustainability concurred: "Convention 176 provides the necessary basis for a sustainable mining industry that ensures that its workers return to their workplaces safe and healthy."
The panel discussion event, moderated by Hanta Andrianasy from Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Madagascar, followed a two-day training workshop on 9-10 March for IndustriALL affiliates. Kohler ran the training workshop.
The panellists included the IndustriALL directors and representatives from the two major global multinational mining companies, Rio Tinto's QMM ilmenite mine and Sheritt International's Ambatovy Sherritt Madagascar. Government of Madagascar representatives from the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Public Service and Social Legislation, director-general, Jerson Razafimanantsoa and Yvan Rakotomalala, the director of health and social action also presented.
The panellists were unanimous on the importance of ratification to ensure the safety and protection of mineworkers. Razafimanantsoa made a positive contribution to the panel discussions, committing the government of Madagascar to eventual ratification of C176. The ratification due process will include a gap analysis of the legislative occupational health and safety regime and will involve all tripartite stakeholders.
Mexico must ratify ILO C176
18 February, 2020: On 19 February 2006, 65 workers died following a methane gas explosion at the Grupo Mexico mine in Pasta de Conchos, Mexico. Only two bodies were recovered before the company sealed the mine. As the 14th anniversary of the mining tragedy approaches, IndustriALL is calling on the Mexican government to ratify ILO Convention 176 on Safety and Health in Mines.
At the time of the tragedy, the leader of Los Mineros, Napoleón Gómez Urrutia, accused Grupo Mexico of "industrial homicide". In response, the authorities unleashed a campaign of political persecution that forced Gómez into exile. In 2018, Gómez was elected to the Mexican Senate on the ticket of the Morena party led by Andrés Manuel López Obrador, and returned to Mexico where he is now President of the Senate Labour Commission.
Mexico is now working with international experts to attempt the recovery of the 63 workers whose bodies remain in the mine. Grupo Mexico continues to control its Mexican workforce through company-imposed protection unions; it also faces a four-month strike by unions at its US subsidiary Asarco in response to the company's unfair labour practices. In November 2018, the Mexican Senate approved a point of agreement presented by Senator Gómez requesting the Executive to submit ILO Convention 176 on Safety and Health in Mines for ratification, but this has yet to be acted on.
IndustriALL general secretary Valter Sanches says: "IndustriALL and its predecessing organizations have supported Los Mineros' fight for the families' right to rescue the bodies of the 65 mineworkers that were killed in Pasta de Conchos. Although we recognize that the Mexican government has made important progress on workers' rights, many challenges still remain. This is the case for the mining industry, dominated by corporations like Grupo Mexico with a long history of violating workers' rights, including the right to secure and safe workplaces at its operations around the world.
"IndustriALL is calling on Mexico's government to ratify ILO Convention 176 as soon as possible in order to guarantee occupational safety and health in the mining industry."
Uruguay becomes first country to ratify ILO Convention 190
16 January, 2020: Uruguay is the first country in the world to ratify the International Labour Organization's (ILO) Convention 190, which recognizes that violence and harassment in the world of work can constitute a human rights violation.
The new Convention and Recommendation were adopted at the International Labour Conference in June, 2019. The Convention recognizes that violence and harassment are a threat to equal opportunities and are unacceptable and incompatible with decent work.
The government of Uruguay submitted the ratification bill to Parliament in September 2019, and the House of Representatives unanimously adopted the bill on 17 December 2019, making Uruguay the first ILO Member State to ratify C190.
"As it has now ratified the ILO Convention, Uruguay will have to adopt an inclusive, integrated and gender-responsive approach to preventing and eliminating violence and harassment in the world of work. This will apply to both the private and public sectors, to the formal and informal economy, and in both urban or rural areas," said an official statement released by the Office of the President of Uruguay. The statement also said that legislation will require employers to take appropriate steps to prevent violence and harassment in the world of work.
The ratification process was facilitated by the fact that Uruguay already has laws in place to address some of the issues covered by C190, such as legislation on sexual harassment in the workplace and concerning student-teacher relationships, as well as on gender-based violence against women.
In November last year, IndustriALL Global Union launched a campaign to encourage affiliates to work together to ensure the ratification of the Convention and incorporation into domestic law. Through the gender office of Uruguay's central union PIT-CNT, IndustriALL's affiliates in Uruguay were actively involved in the tripartite talks on the ratification process.
Gender office representative and UNTMRA member Fernanda Ceballos says on the recent ratification: "We promoted the ratification of C190 in Uruguay from the gender equality and diversity office of PIT-CNT. We have worked on the issue of sexual harassment and zero tolerance of violence in the workplace for a long time, and we are very aware of the issue of raising awareness with the different unions through workshops on gender violence.
"In turn, we work on gender clauses, in conjunction with companies and the labour ministry. Once C190 was ratified, we held assemblies with UNTMRA to inform people of its scope. Many workers affiliated with UNTMRA have faced of sexual harassment at work, so we believe that ratification is very important to fight for a world of violence-free work."
IndustriALL's regional secretary, Marino Vani, says: "Convention 190 is an important tool for fighting discrimination and inequality in the workforce. We congratulate our affiliates in Uruguay for their tireless efforts to tackle gender-based violence, and the government for ratifying the new convention, which will help to create a world of work that is free of violence and harassment."
190 reasons and more for ratifying ILO C190
25 November 2019: Today we commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. The strongest message and best possible way of celebrating this International Day would be the announcement by several governments of the ratification of ILO Convention C190 on Violence and Harassment.
This new international instrument - Convention 190 and Recommendation 206 - on violence and harassment in the world of work was adopted at the Centenary International Labour Conference in June 2019.
Much progress has been made but we still have a long way to go. It is exactly two decades since the United Nations officially designated 25th November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women in memory of the three Mirabal sisters, assassinated in 1960 in the Dominican Republic. Public Services International (PSI) celebrates the adoption of Convention 190 as a major milestone and strongly urges all ILO Member States to ratify and implement it.
Rosa Pavanelli, PSI General Secretary: "Violence and harassment is not part of life, it is not something you have to go through because you are a woman. The campaign for C190 was initiated by women trade unionists many years ago, fighting for the elimination of gender-based violence at work. It gathered momentum and obtained global consensus culminating with adoption of a new international instrument for everyone, dealing with violence and harassment in the world of work. This goes to show that the struggle for women's rights can advance the rights for all".
Call for ratification of ILO C87 in Malaysia
16 September 2019: Together with other unions in the country, IndustriALL's affiliates in Malaysia are calling on the government to immediately ratify ILO convention 87 on freedom of association and the right to organize.
Unions are saying that since the new government has taken steps to reform the Trade Union Act (1959) and the Industrial Relations Act (1967) by removing restrictive provisions that violate the principle of freedom of association, there are no obstacles for the government to ratify the convention, as domestic laws will soon be in compliance with the convention.
"The Malaysian union movement has been been urging the government to ratify the convention, and past leaderships of the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) have tirelessly campaigned for its ratification. Saying that unions don't support the ratification is wrong and the call for a ten-year moratorium doesn't make sense," said Gopal Kishnam, general secretary of IndustriALL affiliate National Union of Transport Equipment and Allied Industry Workers (NUTEAIW) and Labour Law Reform Coalition (LLRC) co-chairperson at a press conference during an LLRC Symposium on Freedom of Association on 8 September. Around 100 national union leaders and worker organization representatives attended the meeting.
"There is a misunderstanding that C87 promotes multiplicity of trade unions in workplaces and would add to disunity among Malaysian workers, but in fact the convention is instrumental in protecting workers' right to organize without interference from governments and employers. Effective and democratic unions will definitely have the unanimous support of workers," added Gopal.
"We believe that with the implementation of C87, Malaysian workers will prefer to join industrial union rather than enterprise union, as industry-wide bargaining has greater leverage safeguarding workers' interest and general well-being."
The LLRC was established in the wake of the first regime change at federal level in Malaysia in 2018, and is a coalition of 58 trade unions and NGOs and formerly known as the decent work working group. The coalition organizes consultation meetings with union leaders on reforming the Employment Act, Trade Union Act and Industrial Relations Act.
Trade Unions in South Korea for Ratification of ILO Core Conventions
15 April 2019 Today the Korean Construction Workers' Union (KCWU) affiliated to the Korean Federation of Construction Industry Trade Unions (KFCITU) held a rally demanding the government guarantee construction workers basic labor rights in front of Namdaemun on April 13th. Then they marched to join more than 20,000 at the main rally organized by its national center, the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU). The key demands of the main rally included ratify ILO core conventions including conventions 87 and 98; amend Article 2 of the Labour Union Act; and guarantee specially-employed workers such as self-employed, contractor, and "misclassified" workers basic labor rights."
In addressing the protesters, KCTU Chairman Kim Myeong Hwan stated, "President Moon Jae-in promised to guarantee specially-employed workers basic labor rights even before he took office, but he has failed to do so after three years from in office and now he is attempting to eliminate the right to association for specially employed workers. We call on President to keep his promise to workers in South Korea."
Lee Young Cheol, Chair of the Specially Employed Workers' Association and the Vice President of the KCWU added, "We must not forget the martyrs who sacrificed themselves for the rights of workers for the past two decades. We will continue to fight and mobilize until the ILO General Assembly in June to ratify the ILO core conventions and revise the labor union law. The specially employed workers, will take the lead in this important struggle."
Following the rally, participants marched to the Presidential office Cheong Wa Dae.
The BWI along with UNI and ITF sent letters to the South Korean government this week calling for the immediate ratification of the ILO core conventions to ensure basic labor rights.
In the letter, BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson urged President Moon Jae In to live up to his campaign promises to South Korean workers. He stated, "This is the 100th anniversary of the ILO. It would be only fitting that South Korea shows its commitment to abide by international standards by ratifying the core ILO conventions."
PSI supports KCTU's general strike for ratification of ILO Core Conventions without regression
05 March 2019: Social dialogue towards ratification of ILO Core Conventions 87 (freedom of association) and 98 (collective bargaining) in the Republic of Korea appears to be moving in the direction of actually weakening fundamental labour rights.
Public Services International (PSI) expresses its support for the KCTU General Strike and concern that social dialogue towards ratification of ILO Core Conventions 87 (freedom of association) and 98 (collective bargaining) in the Republic of Korea appears to be moving in the direction of actually weakening fundamental labour rights.
Discussions on ratification of ILO conventions and revision of labour law are currently taking place in the Committee on Improvement of Labour Relations Law and Practice of the Economic, a subcommittee of the Social and Labour Council (ESLC), a social dialogue body established by South Korean President Moon Jae-in. The committee is scheduled to issue recommendations on labour law revision on March 7.
Public interest members of the committee have already issued recommendations on labour law revision, which fall well below international standards by failing to guarantee trade union rights for self-employed workers, maintaining restrictions on freedom of association and political activities for government employees and teachers, and calling for new concrete limitations on the participation of dismissed and unemployed workers and officers of unions formed above the company level. Legislation based on these recommendations, but that is even more restrictive, has already been proposed in the National Assembly.
Further, PSI has learned that employers' representatives involved in the ESLC process have called for further revisions of the Trade Union and Labour Relations Adjustment Act (TULRAA), which put even greater restrictions on trade union rights, particularly the right to strike, while granting employers new powers, such as to make claims of 'unfair labour practices' against unions. The Moon Jae-in government has indicated willingness to accept many of these demands, claiming this is necessary to win support for ratification of ILO conventions.
PSI is particularly concerned that throughout committee discussions, guarantees for self-employed and precarious workers are being side-lined. The ILO Committee on Freedom of Association has, on several occasions, recommended that the South Korean government take the necessary steps to protect the rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining for these workers. The European Commission, which is currently engaged in formal consultation over the Korean government's failure to live up to obligations under the EU-ROK FTA, has also raised the issue of the exclusion of self-employed, unemployed and dismissed workers from the right to freedom of association as an essential issue the South Korean government must address.
The question of a system of minimum services in line with ILO standards has been left out of the discussion. As it now stands, the broad and vague definition of 'public interest businesses' in South Korean labour law means that many public institutions and other sectors not considered 'essential services in the strict sense of the term' have set excessively high levels of minimum services to be maintained during strikes and that employers may freely use replacement workers to break strikes.
The ILO has also recommended on several occasions that restrictions on the right to strike in workplaces that are not 'essential services in the strict sense of the term', such as railway, airlines and energy companies be keep to a minimum and that unions be granted the right to participate on equal footing with employers in deciding these minimum levels.
PSI General Secretary Rosa Pavanelli has expressed her concern over these developments, stating: "Since 1996 when South Korea joined the OECD, the government has made repeated promises to the international community to ratify ILO Core Conventions and improve the legal framework on trade union rights. PSI welcomed President's Moon promise to live up to these commitments when he first took office, but has been disappointed by what has followed since. The current discussions that tie regressive revision of the labour law to ratification of ILO conventions and ignore past ILO recommendations are unacceptable. Dialogue concerning ratification of ILO conventions should take place following a strict commitment to the principle of non-regression in existing laws and with a view towards actually improving the rights of workers in South Korea."
International Labour Organisation - 50 for Freedom
Malta has become the 30th country worldwide to ratify the ILO Protocol on Forced labour, thereby committing to take effective measures to prevent all forms of forced labour, including trafficking in persons, protect victims and ensure their access to justice and compensation.
The Government of Malta has ratified the legally-binding treaty that requires countries to take new measures to tackle forced labour and modern slavery with a keen focus on protection, prevention and compensation.
"As the International Labour Organisation (ILO) celebrates its Centenary, we are faced with the realisation that the work and values that the organisation stands for remain relevant and applicable more so in today's world", Ambassador Olaph Terribile, Permanent Representative of Malta to the UN Office and other International Organizations in Geneva said. "Malta shall continue to seek and promote the enhancement of labour conditions both at a national level as well as within the appropriate multilateral platforms, confident in the belief that decent work is undeniably linked to sustainability and prosperity", he added.
The Government of Malta has taken significant measures to develop the legal and institutional framework for combatting trafficking in persons, including by criminalizing all forms of trafficking as well as forced labour, with penalties of four to 12 years imprisonment. Malta has also strengthened its efforts towards the protection of victims of trafficking in persons by enacting the "Victims of Crime Act" in April 2015, which includes provisions regarding access to assistance services and compensation. Moreover, the Anti-Human Trafficking Monitoring Committee was set up in 2011 for drawing up and monitoring the implementation of anti-trafficking policies. A National Referral Mechanism has also been active in Malta since 2013 and is mainly involved in the identification of victims or potential victims of trafficking.
The ILO Director-General, Mr. Guy Ryder, welcomed the step: "With the ratification of the Protocol, Malta once again confirms its commitment to promoting and implementing fundamental rights and principles at work".
This ratification supports the effective promotion of the ILO's Decent Work Agenda and achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, in particular Target 8.7 to eradicate forced labour, modern slavery, human trafficking and child labour, and represents a significant contribution to mark ILO's centenary. The ILO estimates that about 24.9 million people worldwide are victims of forced labour, with 16 million people exploited in the private sector in activities such as domestic work, construction or agriculture; 4.8 million in forced sexual exploitation, and 4 million in forced labour imposed by state authorities. The ILO also estimates that this exploitation generates some US$150 billion a year in illicit profits.
In November 2017, during the Global Conference on child labour and forced labour in Argentina, the European Union pledged to "promote actively swift ratification of the Forced Labour Protocol among EU members". Malta is the 14th EU member state to ratify the ILO Protocol on Forced Labour.