The social dialogue in Europe and its role in international labour policy and social policy

“As the European Centre for Workers’ Questions, we feel it is of urgent necessity to develop a new culture of equality, and balance between work and private life in Europe”, said the President of the European Centre for Workers’ Questions (EZA) Bartho Pronk in the plenary session of the International Labour Conference (ILC) 2018. He continued by saying this must have “a strong legal basis”. It is with this demand that Pronk commented on the report by the Director-General of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). With regard to the ILO’s “Women at Work” centenary initiative, the report had pointed up numerous challenges and stated: “…we are still a long way off the aim of equality, and the path to it is slow, unsteady and uncertain.”

President Pronk, who before the ILC delegates had referred to the EZA Platform for Equal Opportunities’ many years of work, responded to the report: “EZA is striving to work together with the ILO to achieve the aim of the equality of women and men at work faster, more steadily and with greater certainty.”

The speech is on the ILO Website at www.ilo.org/ilc/ILCSessions/107/plenary/recordings/lang--en/index.htm, “Video recordings of plenary sessions”, 4 June 2018, timeline 3:35:05 to 3:40:50

Talks with ILO representatives

The talks Pronk held together with EZA Co-President Piergiorgio Sciacqua in Geneva reflected the preparation for celebrations on the centenary of the ILO in 2019. Both the President of the ILO Governing Body, Luc Cortebeeck, and the Deputy Director and Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia, Heinz Koller, referred to the Global Commission on the Future of Work. It will not only submit recommendations on the future of work but also put forward proposals on what role the ILO itself should play in future.

Cortebeeck was also concerned by increasing trends towards “de-globalisation” becoming evident in the political agendas in some countries of the world. The noticeable shift away from international organisations and towards nationally oriented political approaches could also weaken the ILO.

Talks with the Deputy Director of the Bureau for Workers’ Activities (ACTRAV), Anna Biondi, and with the special adviser for socio-religious affairs to the ILO Director-General, Pierre Martinot-Lagarde, also focused on the forthcoming ILO anniversary.

EZA will contribute to this with content. At the beginning of the next year a seminar co-organised with Cartel Alfa and involving ILO representatives will tackle ethical issues of the future of work and forward ensuing ideas to the ILO.

A discussion with the Senior Economist in the ILO Research Department, Prof. Dr. Irmgard Nübler, addressed findings on digitisation processes in the world of work. According to her, in future it will be important for education systems to combine skills and abilities as well as possible in a new way and link them with digital fields. At the same time it is important to create decent work with the new jobs that will result.

Meeting with representatives of the EZA member centres

Once again at the ILC, EZA organised an exchange of views and experience with representatives of the EZA member centres who attended the 107th ILC as delegates. The focus was on intensifying networking and exchanging ideas on ongoing ILC debates. It was particularly encouraging that Luc Cortebeeck as well as Anna Biondi and Pierre Martinot-Lagarde enriched discussions with their presence. This event has almost become a tradition and once again was very well received.

Focuses of the ILC

Besides the discussions on “social dialogue and tripartism” and the question of how the ILO could shape its development co-operation for supporting the aims of sustainable development as effectively as possible, the primary focus was on deliberations about “bringing an end to violence and harassment in the world of work”. The hope is that at the end of the debate there is to be an international agreement in this area for creating a binding standard. If this were to succeed in the ILO’s anniversary year, this would send out a major signal on the importance of the ILO in international standard setting in labour and social affairs.