ILO regional meet begins on December 6; Director-General calls for social security for all

Strong and effective gender-responsive policies and institutions of work that are oriented towards human-centred recovery needed in the Asia-Pacific region, says Gilbert F. Houngbo

December 06, 2022 12:20 am | Updated 12:20 am IST - Singapore

International Labour Organization (ILO) Director-General Gilbert Houngbo speaks during a press conference after a meeting of the heads of international financial and economic organisations in Berlin, on November 29, 2022.

International Labour Organization (ILO) Director-General Gilbert Houngbo speaks during a press conference after a meeting of the heads of international financial and economic organisations in Berlin, on November 29, 2022. | Photo Credit: AFP

“Integrated policy agenda for a human–centred recovery that is inclusive, sustainable and resilient” is the theme of the 17 th Asia and the Pacific Regional Meeting (APRM) of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) beginning in Singapore on Tuesday.

In his report on the theme, ILO Director-General Gilbert F. Houngbo has called for strengthening tripartism and social dialogue to address issues in employment in the region. Mr. Houngbo also pitched for strong and effective gender-responsive policies and institutions of work that are oriented towards a human-centred recovery after the pandemic and the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. He asked governments in the region to increase investments in social justice for the achievement of decent job-rich growth, universal social protection, respect for rights at work and inclusive social dialogue.

Minister of State for Labour Rameswar Teli and Secretary Arti Ahuja will represent India, while Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh’s (BMS) president Hiranmay Pandya will represent workers and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry’s (FICCI) Alok Bansidhar is the delegate of employers.

Meanwhile, ten Central Trade Unions (CTUs) from India wrote to Mr. Houngbo complaining that the Indian government did not allow them to attend the meeting. They said in the complaint that the government of India not only ignored their plea but has facilitated the participation of one union, which is close to the government.

“We have taken serious objection to it and would be intimating the Government of India appropriately. Here our plea before you is to take cognisance in the matter to intervene effectively to stop the deviation from and undermining these conferences as against the interest of workers and their representatives,” the letter said.

Mr. Houngbo said in his report that “the Russian aggression” against Ukraine has led to “major new disruptions to energy and food supply chains as well as rising inflation, with impacts that are filtering down to the Asia and the Pacific and the Arab States regions, adversely impacting the prospects for labour market recovery.”

Poverty in general, as well as working poverty, increased for the first time after having trended downwards for decades in the Asia and the Pacific regions as well as in the Arab States, he said in the report.

The report added that in the absence of effective institutionalised support, households relied on limited savings to meet basic needs or went into debt. “According to ILO estimates, the number of working women and men living in extreme poverty [below US$1.90 a day] increased by 2.1 million people in Asia and the Pacific in 2020, bringing the total to 64.5 million [3.5% of total employment]. The number of employed persons living in extreme or moderate poverty [below US$3.20 a day] increased by 3.7 million to reach 304 million [15.8% of total employment] as a result of the COVID-19 crisis,” he said.

In times marked by economic, social and environmental crises, he said, the governments and social partners must not miss the opportunity to join forces and channel investments towards a human-centred recovery, while “gradually removing the longer-term structural barriers to decent work and inclusive growth”.

To tackle the root causes of inequalities and socio-economic insecurities, he said ILO must take action towards making progress on universal social protection, youth employment, gender equality, just transitions towards digital and environmentally sustainable economies, formalisation, fair labour migration, building labour market resilience in fragile settings and decent work in supply chains.

For this, he said strengthening good governance, with a priority focus on improving the ratifications and application of international labour standards, tripartism and social dialogue, implementation of strong and effective gender-responsive policies and institutions of work that are oriented towards a human-centred recovery and focusing on policy coherence and the alignment of financing towards significantly increased investments in social justice in Member States are important.

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