The International Labour Organisation (ILO) Deputy Director General, Guy Ryder, addressed today’s opening plenary at Congress and emphasised the central role of education trade unions in key struggles for human and trade union rights.
Mr Ryder made special mention of teachers’ struggles to defend the rights to organise and collectively bargain in countries that were affected by civil conflicts, such as Colombia and Nepal.
In a wide-ranging speech, the ILO Deputy Director General underlined the need for participants to meet the dramatic challenges posed by the global financial crisis, and called on education unions to help stimulate new models for growth.
“Never waste a crisis,” he said, referring to the opportunity that the turbulent political and socio- economic context offered to participants. “The old model has shown its incapacity of generating enough decent work, defeating world poverty and controlling financial power.”
He went on to say, “the fact is that policy-makers appear to be returning to a business as usual model, which will lead to a further turning of the screw for millions of working people.”
Mr Ryder called on policy-makers to put an end to the mistaken logic of recovery through austerity measures and warned about future generations’ greatest betrayal by denying them access to quality education and loading them down with onerous debt.
“We all understand the conditions we face and the harsh policy choices they bring, but what greater betrayal of future generations could there be than denial their access to quality education?” he asked.
Mr Ryder concluded by thanking teachers and education unions’ around the world because “we all benefit from what you do and the ILO trusts that EI Congress will give you new strength. We wish you well.”