Promote freedom of association, do not curb workers’ rights: ILO declaration

The “Singapore Declaration”, which was adopted in Singapore on Friday by the delegates representing governments

Published - December 09, 2022 09:30 pm IST - Singapore

The 17th Asia and the Pacific Regional Meeting of the International Labour Organisation (APRM of ILO) set ten-point priorities of national action for the member countries to deal with the issue of dwindling wages of workers, inflation and unemployment.

The “Singapore Declaration”, which was adopted in Singapore on Friday by the delegates representing governments, employers and workers’ governments, employers and workers in the regions, agreed that social dialogue is essential to address labour market challenges and finding solutions in crisis situations such as the COVID-19 pandemic, natural disasters, and economic uncertainty.

The declaration said social dialogue is key to building trust, and resilient labour market institutions are essential to sustained recovery and inclusive and sustainable growth, and need to be strengthened in the regions.

“Recognising that strong and representative organisations of workers and employers play an important role in building and sustaining inclusive societies and are fundamental to achieving social justice and decent work and that the social partners in some countries do not have the capacity, mechanisms or freedom to contribute effectively to policy development and discussion, the capacities and skills of employer and worker representatives, and of governments must be strengthened,” it said.

It urged the governments to ensure labour protection for all through the promotion of freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining throughout the regions, including for workers in vulnerable situations and workers in the informal economy, as enabling rights for decent work. “Governments and social partners should urgently take effective measures to address allegations of serious violations of these rights,” the declaration said.

It called for closing gender gaps in the world of work through measures that increase women’s labour force participation, promote equal pay for work of equal value, balance work and responsibilities, and promoting women’s leadership. It suggested that governments must develop and implement inclusive labour market programmes and policies that support life transitions and demographic shifts.

“Pursue collective and determined efforts to promote and accelerate a smooth and sustained transition from the informal to formal economy, guided by the Transition from the Informal to the Formal Economy Recommendation, 2015 (No. 204 of the ILO recommendations),” it said.

The declaration also urged the governments to strengthen governance frameworks and respect for freedom of association to protect the rights of migrant workers, including improved accommodation, protection of wages and extension of social protection and, where appropriate, through enhanced bilateral labour migration agreements between both sending and receiving countries. “Tripartite mechanisms should help promote cooperation between constituents to mitigate negative impacts and harness opportunities that arise from labour migration,” the declaration said.

It wanted the governments to facilitate the transition to peace, security and decent work in situations of crisis. “Recognise the impact of climate change and develop through tripartite committees’ national plans for a just transition that help build environmentally sustainable economies and societies, based on meaningful and effective social dialogue, taking into account policies regarding the labour market, regulated labour migration, coordinated labour mobility, and social protection,” it added.

The ILO meeting asked the member countries to strengthen the foundation for social and employment protection and resilience, including expanding social protection to all workers, guaranteeing universal access to comprehensive, adequate and sustainable social protection for all, with a particular focus on extending protection to workers in the informal economy.

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