In Geneva, the Committee on Sectoral and Technical Meetings (STM) of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Governing Body approved on 19 March a new approach to activities that takes ILO's agenda out into the workplace.
These activities address employment issues in the major sectors of industry and services. In the case of education, for example, an Action Programme "Teachers for the Future: Meeting teacher shortages to achieve education for all" has helped to build social dialogue aimed at improving the status of teachers in 13 countries.
EI as current chair of the Council of Global Unions played a key role in developing the new approach, which will provide greater focus, linking with the ILO’s Decent Work Agenda, and stronger consultation with global unions and employers.
Work will be undertaken in 30 sectors, and advisory bodies of unions and employers will be established for each of eight major groupings, including Education and Research. In an exceptional appearance at the Committee, ILO Director General Juan Somavia emphasized the importance he attached to developing a new dynamic, taking ILO sectoral activities out to the member countries, and linking them with the Decent Work Agenda and to the work of the organization as a whole.
Speaking for the Global Unions at the invitation of the Workers' Chairperson, EI's Bob Harris pointed out that the new approach was built upon a clear rationale for sectoral work; a more dynamic and flexible programme reflecting the rapid changes in the world, and consultation with the ILO’s constituents – workers and employers – through the advisory bodies. The new approach was developed over 18 months of consultations among the Global Unions, with the International Employers' Organisation (IOE), the ILO Office, including the Director General personally, and key governments.
Commenting on the positive outcome of the meeting, Jerry Zellhoefer, spokesperson for the Workers' group, said there was now tri-partite support to move forward. Both he and Bob Harris noted that there would be special challenges for the groupings working mainly with public service employers.
It is expected that the new approach will be endorsed by the ILO Governing Body meeting in Geneva next week.