ILO Director General emphasizes Tripartism

National Secretary FTUC Mr Felix Anthony with Director General ILO Mr Guy Ryder

The Director General of ILO addressed the Regional General Council on Sunday 25th October and outlined the challenges faced by ILO and its focus on the world of work. He discussed the prevailing issues faced in the region with Council members.

The DG also was the key speaker at the Tripartite Forum on Monday 26th October. He stressed the importance of Tripartism. The DG however warned that Tripartism must not be misused only in difficult times. The success of Tripartism will only be realised if it is genuine based on trust and is not an opportunist Tripartism in difficult times. Tripartism must be permanent in good and bad times where the partners acted in a sincere manner. He stressed that Tripartism is the only way for countries to realise their full potential.

Tripartite partners from Barbados, Norway, Singapore and Sweden also participated.

Mr Anthony with the Prime Minister of Singapore

The PM of Singapore, Mr Lee Hsien Loong, was the main speaker at the occasion of a dinner hosted by NTUC (Singapore Union National Center) on Monday 26th October.

The Prime Minister  spoke on the unique partnership that the Government enjoyed with the Trade Union Movement and the Employers Federation. He stated that the relationship was crucial to the success of Singapore as a nation. He assured the Trade Unions of the Government’s commitment to the workers and urged the new leaders of NTUC to continue to work for the workers of the country and also in the national interest.

TUNISIAN UNION AS PART OF A QUARTET WINS 2015 NOBEL PEACE PRIZE

National Secretary FTUC with his Tunisian General Labour Union counterpart

The little known Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet left some people wondering why a string quartet would win the Nobel Peace Prize.

ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow provides the real story on the group that brought together people across Tunisian society, from trade unions, employers, human rights groups and lawyers to forge a peaceful democratic transition.

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Every year in October there is a collective moment when the world thinks about peace, and the individuals and institutions who make peace happen.

The Nobel Peace Prize has traditionally put the spotlight on the work of stateswomen and men Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Barrack Obama, civil rights activists Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi and organisations and institutes from the European Union to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

With wars and battles being waged from Yemen to Afghanistan, Syria to the Democratic Republic of Congo and many more street corners in between – talk of peace has a hollow meaning for millions of people denied a voice by the power of bombs and artillery.

As the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the winner of the 2015 to the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet, the power of the collective voice of people was finally recognised on the global stage.

The ILO’s Director General Guy Ryder went to the heart of the Dialogue’s significance with a new twitter hashtag welcoming the award: ‪#‎socialdialogueworks‬.

As the only UN body which has a formal tripartite structure with employers unions and governments having an equal say, the ILO sets global standards for our workplace economies and democracies – which provide the foundations for peace in all societies.

While the 2015 Peace Prize celebrates the work of Tunisian society to forge a peaceful and stable future, it also puts in the spotlight the dialogue that underpins progress in many countries in our world.

The Nordic model of dialogue and collective bargaining has reigned in the rising inequality faced by many nations including the US and India.

Germany’s model of corporate co-determination and strong collective bargaining has held firm a strong economy and introduced a new national minimum wage.

In the Netherlands, unions, governments and employers are negotiating a tripartite compact to realise rights in global supply chains.

Workers, employers and the government have negotiated the basis for a new labour law in Oman, representing all workers including migrant workers.

Unions successfully mobilised against the racist apartheid regime in South Africa, and resisted military dictatorships by organising strikes and mass protests in countries such as Brazil.

After years of negotiation a constitution and stable democracy is being realised in Nepal, with unions and civil society partners in dialogue with the government.

And the UGTT in Tunisia as part of the National Dialogue Quartet mobilised and negotiated the countries democratic transition while avoiding the level of bloodshed suffered in other countries during the “Arab Spring”.

Unions were the driving force behind the drafting of a Tunisian constitution which guaranteed fundamental principles such as the separation of powers, and independent judiciary, freedom of association, the right to organise and the right to strike.

These rights, and the dialogue through which they were achieved are the real winners of the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize.

The irony will not be lost on us that many of those governments that choose to praise the winners of the peace prize, are at the same time attempting to destroy and undermine social dialogue in their own countries, as they close down democratic space.

Austerity policies and the attack on wages and social protection has driven the world to the brink of another recession.

Belgium historically had the space for the social dialogue that was a hallmark of a European way of doing business, but these are under attack and social unrest growing. Earlier this week thousands of workers and their families took to the streets to demand to be heard, after growing discontent with the government

In the UK the Trade Union Bill is the fiercest attack on workers’ rights in a century, undermining the right to strike and peacefully protest.

Across the world, there has been immense increase in the number of arbitrary arrests and detentions of workers for exercising their rights in a legitimate and peaceful manner. According to the findings of the 2015 ITUC Global Rights Index, the number of countries where these were used to silence and intimidate activists rose from 35 to 44 in the past year.

Trade unions have stood at the frontlines of struggles for democratic change and social justice throughout history. In many countries we are the organised voice of oppositions to governments operating at the behest of corporate power and vested interests.

This historic award recognised that unions and social dialogue are vital for peace democratic rights and equality. It’s a reminder to the world, in the face of workers’ rights being stripped away, that if you build unions and social dialogue, you build democracy.

State yet to deliver on ILO Geneva Agreement

Adapted from a report in the Fiji Times: Dated 2nd Oct 2015.

GOVERNMENT wanted tripartite discussions on the review of labour laws to be held with a wider forum apart from the Fiji Trades Union Congress and Fiji Commerce and Employers Federation.

This was the statement by Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum at the opening of the FCEF’s TOPEX Conference on Thursday. He mentioned that upon his return from Geneva, he wanted  an expanded ERAB (Employment Relations Advisory Board) in place.

“Let’s not just have FTUC and FCEF, let’s get a bigger cross-section of representation.

“Let’s get some other unions and umbrella organisations.

“We were told, if you do it, we will go back to Geneva and say you breached the agreement.

“So we were forced to go into ERAB with that limited number, with only FTUC, FCEF and Government and we came up with the amendments to the ERP.”

FTUC National  Secretary Felix Anthony refuted the claims and said the A-G needed to be more truthful if discussions among the three parties could progress in a collaborative manner.

“The Attorney-General needs to tell the whole story,” Mr Anthony said.

“Prior to ERAB, we had the Labour Advisory Board where the workers were always represented by the FTUC and the employers by FCEF.

“And another important point the A-G needs to acknowledge is the agreement signed in Geneva in March this year was between FTUC, FCEF and the Government.

“No other party was involved.”

An agreement was signed by Government, FTUC and FCEF in March this year to defer a Commission of Inquiry — the International Labour Organisation highest-level investigative procedure that is generally set up when a member State is accused of committing persistent and serious violations, and has repeatedly refused to address them.

Fiji was flagged after serious breaches of ILO core conventions in regards to decrees and labour laws introduced by the Government, including the Essential National Industries Decree.