published 6 July 2017 updated 12 July 2017


ILO meeting on decent work for persons with disabilities

From 15-16 May, Education International (EI) took part in the Expert conference on disabilities organised by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Bureau for Workers' Activities (ACTRAV) in cooperation with the Gender, Equality and Diversity branch. The meeting, held in Geneva, Switzerland, called for more engagement of worker’s organisations to guarantee the right to decent work for all workers.

Unions and trade union confederations were encouraged to integrate the rights of workers with disabilities in social dialogue and collective bargaining as well as union structures. In addition, the key role of inclusive education was stressed in terms of empowering people with disabilities to find decent work, reach their full potential, learn about their rights and the benefits of inclusive societies. It was also stressed that girls with disabilities face the biggest challenges in terms of getting access to quality education.

At the meeting, a new study on workers with disabilities was launched. EI affiliates contributed to Trade Union action on Disability and Decent Work - A Global Overview by sharing their work on teachers and education support personnel with disabilities. Read the EI resolution on the rights of children and teachers with disabilities

Research – Refine – Resist: Annual global Research Network meeting in Belgium

Under the banner, Research - Refine - Resist: Unions on the move!, this year’s EI Research Network (ResNet) meeting focused on further strengthening EI’s research network and research programmes to foster resistance and reverse misleading education policies, attacks on trade union rights and privatisation trends. There was a firm focus on using research for activism and the skills and practices needed to do this.

From 31 May-1 June in Brussels, among other issues, participatory workshops explored opportunities and challenges in the use of technology in education, along with career pathways, teacher identities and professional standards. Education 2030, inclusive practices, breadth of learning and the development of EI’s research toolkit also featured on the agenda.

In addition, EI launched its latest Research Board study, Organising Teaching: Developing the power of the profession, conducted by Nina Bascia and Howard Stevenson.

PSI Tax and Finance Report Workshop

Public Services International (PSI) organised a workshop on tax and finance with Finance Uncovered in Ferney-Voltaire, France, from 31 May-2 June.

The workshop examined the accounts of selected companies, especially in relation to potential tax avoidance, ‘fat cat’-style pay compared to flat-lining or dwindling average workforce pay, high dividends compared to large redundancies and extraordinary profits. EI reviewed the accounts of Elsevier, the largest global commercial academic publisher.

Louise Hoj Larsen represented EI.

106th Session of the International Labour Conference

This year’s annual International Labour Conference was held from 5-16 June in Geneva, Switzerland. The Conference, which adopts standards to protect workers worldwide and promotes social justice and decent work, focused on: migrant workers’ rights, a review of country violations of labour standards, the adoption of a new standard on decent work for peace and resilience; and recommendations for the implementation of fundamental principles and rights at work. In the ILO Committee on the Application of Standards, clear recommendations were issued to governments. Education unions contributed to the discussion on Algeria, Bahrain, Botswana, Cambodia and Ecuador.

The discussions on labour migration governance will inform the UN Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration in 2018. The ILO Committee highlights the recognition and compliance of migrants’ rights without distinction and not only for “chosen migrants”. The relevance of existing ILO Conventions 97 and 143 on migration was acknowledged. Further guidelines may be considered for fair recruitment because of the poor practice of some employment agencies.

The ILO Committee on Employment and decent work for Peace and Resilience adopted a new standard, Recommendation 205, to deal with contemporary crisis situations arising from wars, conflicts and different forms of disasters.

Technical training on the Trade in Services Agreement

From 6-9 June, the Seattle to Brussels Network and Our World Is Not For Sale organised in-depth technical training on the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) strategy, in Brussels, Belgium. Jane Kelsey, a law professor at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, guided participants through the main aspects of the TiSA.

Louise Hoj Larsen participated in this meeting on behalf of EI.

Meeting of the OECD Informal Working Group on Higher Education

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Informal Working Group on Higher Education met on 15-16 June in Paris, France.

The Higher Education Secretariat updated attendees on the state of the Benchmarking Higher Education Systems Performance project. The first round of the benchmarking exercise will examine the quality of the higher education teaching profession, equity in higher education, and the social impact of higher education. In-depth country reviews will be conducted in Belgium (Flanders), Estonia, the Netherlands, and Norway. The secretariat also presented a proposal to study the resourcing of higher education as the second topic of the in-depth analysis.

Louise Hoj Larsen participated in this meeting on behalf of EI.

TUAC meeting

The Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD (TUAC) organised a second launch of Organising teaching: Developing the power of the profession, from 19-20 June in Paris, France. Delegates said the report would help them in the process of union renewal.

Delegates acknowledged the contributions of John Evans, long-time chair of TUAC, and Mike Jennings, General Secretary of the Irish Federation of University Teachers and long-time voice for higher education, both attending their last TUAC meeting.

Other topics explored included the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment and wellbeing, refugees and migrants, Education 2030, the OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey’s Starting Strong, and the early childhood education pilot to the OECD Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies and Jobs and Skills in the digital transformation.

CoE Conference on Education for human rights and democratic citizenship

Education for human rights and democratic citizenship was the focus of a conference held by the Council of Europe (CoE) from 20-22 June, in Strasbourg, France. EI Deputy General Secretary Haldis Holst was a panellist at this participatory event that brought together around 300 representatives of governments, education institutions, civil society, and youth organisations.

Participants agreed on recommendations for practical and actionable ways to implement the CoE Charter on Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights. The charter, adopted in 2010, commits to making education for democratic citizenship and human rights universal, and this review exercise was part of the CoE’s contribution towards the United Nations World Programme for Human Rights Education and the UN 2030 Education Agenda.

The EI delegation highlighted the role of quality education systems, from early childhood education through to higher education, including vocational education and training, in making Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights a reality for all. EI underlined the role that teachers and education personnel play – provided that they are trained and qualified, and supported in the profession, including through decent working conditions and trade unions rights.

Education International continues its work on Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights within the framework of the implementation of the SDGs, and particularly target 4.7. Democracy and human rights values in education will be discussed by EI affiliates at a world conference in 2018.